Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm Dissectin' It: The Big Mac Deconstructed Day Three -- MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN STUFF

The Big Mac bun is a marvel of chemical engineering... white, fluffy, and apparently quite fresh. I dropped one and it bounced with a springiness I haven't often observed in baked goods. Since I'm the kind of guy who loves taking things apart to see how they work, here (straight from McD's web site) are the ingredients in a Big Mac bun. My comments are in italics.


Big Mac® Bun: Enriched wheat flour ("Enriched" meaning "mechanically processed and stripped of a lot of nutrients, then a few are put back, like when you get gouged on your cell phone bill but then get a "Preferred Customer" half-price movie admission coupon in the mail), water, sugar and/or glucose-fructose (in other words, sugar and/or sugar-sugar), yeast, vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola) (why not one or the other?), salt, calcium sulphate (soaks up excess moisture. Can be made at home from drywall)...


(This is what I don't get. "May contain any or all of the following." Imagine wedding vows like that: "I, (Bride/Groom), MAY take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold IN ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part, IN VARYING PROPORTIONS . MAYBE.")

diacetyl tartaric acid (used as a pesticide -- go ahead, look it up) esters of mono and diglycerides (gives it a nice smell), vegetable mono and diglycerides (mono and diglycerides are "emulsifiers" -- chemicals that make other compounds that would normally stick together, stick togther -- like oil and water), calcium propionate (another pesticide -- may or may not be toxic to humans. The jury's still out), sodium stearoyl-2- lactylate (another emulsifier), corn flour, calcium phosphate, soy flour, sunflower oil, wheat starch, ammonium phosphate (often used in fertilizer -- here it's meant to stimulate growth of yeast. Gotta crank those buns out FAST!), calcium peroxide (a flour bleaching agent -- everyone likes white bread!), wheat gluten, ethanol (alcohol -- woo hoo!), sorbitol (made from corn syrup as a sweetner. Common in cough syrup), polysorbate 20 (a surfactant -- chemically changes the surface tension of liquids. Beats the hell outta me what it's doing here), sodium propionate (a preservative -- inhibits mold formation), enzymes ("enzymes" covers a lot of ground. It's like saying a KKK rally and an Amnesty International conference both contain "motivated people"), dextrin (more sweetener!), corn starch, wheat starch, cellulose gum (according to one chemical company web site I found, "cellulose gum significantly enhances quality by acting as a thickener and stabilizer and by controlling crystallization, moisture retention and fat uptake." Your guess is as good as mine), ammonium sulfate (yet another fertilizer/insecticide component. Is that why it needs the mold inhibitor?), malt, calcium carbonate (in other words, chalk), sesame seeds.


Wait a minute... I thought companies were supposed to list their ingredients in order from greatest to least total percentage of content. And I can see the sesame seeds. Does this mean that there's more calcium propionate than sesame seeds in this thing?

Is that why it bounced so nicely?

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