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Foods You Don't Want To See Made

We've all heard gross food stories about people finding strange items in their lunch or dinner. Maybe it's the Milky Way bar that had a human tooth in it. Perhaps it's the slice of human skin in an Arby's sandwich, or the needles in strawberries.

Finding an unwanted piece of grossness in your food can undoubtedly be traumatizing... but what about the ingredients that are supposed to be there? Have you ever wondered about the processes behind processed food? Thankfully, manufacturers are not legally allowed to mix human teeth or needles into our food. However, you might be surprised by some of the ingredients they use.

These gross food-processing facts might spoil your next meal, but they're still not as unappetizing as an Arby's thumb-skin sandwich.

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  • Pringles

    Photo: Glane23 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    "Once you pop, you can't stop," went the former advertising slogan for Pringles, the famously stackable chips in a pop-top can. But you might want to stop popping once you learn how these potato-esque snacks are made. First of all, remove yourself from the idea that Pringles are actually "potato" chips. Instead, they are an amalgamation of ingredients including corn, rice, wheat, and potato flakes.

    The ingredients are steadily mixed before being chopped and dropped into a vat of boiling oil, allowing them to reach their final ultra-thin chip form. Each chip is then dried and dusted with one of the many Pringles flavors before stacking and shipping. 


  • Maraschino Cherries

    Maraschino Cherries
    Photo: WindyWinters / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    We've all been fooling ourselves when it comes to maraschino cherries. A luscious, radiant maraschino cherry seems to exude a million lies when compared to an actual cherry. One looks like actual fruit from a tree, while the other, well... looks like it grew on some glowing, mutant plant that exists in Fallout 4.  

    The reason? To "maraschino-ize" your cherries, the once-pure, all-natural fruit is plucked from the tree and whisked off to a processing center where it's subjected to a mixture of calcium chloride and sulfur dioxide that destroys the natural color and turns the cherries yellow. 

    The stripped cherries are then dunked in vats of high-fructose corn syrup and red food dye to give them that blindingly artificial glow. What's more, the red dye often contians carmine, a food coloring made from ground-up insects.

  • Non-Dairy Creamer

    Non-Dairy Creamer
    Photo: Lombroso / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Oat milk. Almond milk. Soy milk. Rice milk. Cow's milk. When you add these products to your morning coffee, you know what's in your "milk." But what about non-dairy creamer? What makes it not dairy? And what kind of creamer can be kept in a room temperature pantry for months without spoiling? 

    Hopefully, you're not surprised to learn that those tiny little plastic cups don't contain actual milk, but rather a long list of ingredients that all come together to make something "milk-esque." 

    Here are the basic ingredients: corn syrup solids (i.e., sugar), casein (a milk protein that stabilizes the creamer), and several monoglycerides and diglycerides, which make sure your manufactured creamer mixes well with your coffee. 

    You've got milk... without getting anywhere near the stuff.

  • Cheese Powder

    Cheese Powder
    Photo: Nordelch / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    Most of us don't probably think twice about that granular blanket of cheese powder found on Doritos and other cheese-flavored chips. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, this powder is basically dehydrated cheese that's been spray-dried to keep it from spoiling. According to Fundamentals of Cheese Science, manufacturers developed dried cheese products for the US Army during World War II "as a means of preserving cheese solids under conditions to which natural cheese would not normally be subjected."

    The cheese is dehydrated, then blasted through a hot dryer, which creates the powdered texture we all know, love, and can't wait to get off our fingers once we've polished off an entire bag of cheese puffs. 

  • Hot Dogs

    Consuming a hot dog requires some mental jumping jacks. After all.. what exactly is it? Sometimes it's "beef." Sometimes it's "pork." But actually, hot dogs consist of a quick-and-easy mixture of meat parts that come together to form a pinkish tube.

    The hot dog manufacturing process begins with butchers at meat plants gathering up leftover scraps (i.e., the less desirable parts) from different beef and pork cuts, depending on which "flavor" you're after. Next, those bits and pieces are ground up together, and along with chicken parts thrown into the mix. This meat hybrid is liquefied into an unattractive sludge, which is then flavored with everything from salt to mustard to corn syrup. The mixture is packed into temporary tube-casings before being baked, smoked, salted, chilled, packaged, and sent out the door. 


  • Caviar

    As the fish eggs (also called "roe") that will become caviar make their way from the ocean to the gold-trimmed platters of the rich and famous, they undergo a painstaking process to make sure they are up to snuff. However, the hands-on process isn't particularly gentle. 

    Sturgeon, bred in large basins using filtered water, is brought to an advanced facility where workers harvest the eggs. The first step? Slicing the fish's egg sac from its belly. "Caviar dreams," indeed. 

    After the fish has been gutted, its egg sac is rolled over a grate to separate the eggs from the sac. From there, the finest-quality eggs are hand-selected and generously dusted with salt before packaging. These precious black pearls can cost up to $285 per ounce.