How Pepperidge Farm Duped My Family

This is a picture of me on my first birthday. My father was clearly holding me back from taking a chunk out of my cake with my hand. Now I don’t remember this day exactly – but I do remember this Pepperidge Farm Golden 3 Layer cake because we had it more than just on my 1st birthday, we ate it all of the time.  I also remember having the worst asthma and allergies as a child too, but of course did not realize those symptoms were related to what I was eating…


My parents were the first people in their respective families to come to America from India and did not have a slew of homemade family cake recipes to choose from when celebrating events. Growing up, my Mom did make the BEST Indian desserts ever, but that didn’t matter. My family wanted to celebrate like everyone else in America – with cake! I remember this cake so vividly and can almost taste it in my mouth right now. We had it countless times throughout the years. It came out of the freezer section in a white box and I will never forget having to wait for several long grueling minutes for it to thaw on the counter.


Little did we know at the time, but we were clearly being duped. What we thought we were getting and what we actually ended up consuming were 2 totally different things. My poor unsuspecting foreign parents figured it was frozen because it had been baked fresh (probably on a farm like the label suggested) and needed to be preserved. They were clueless to the fact that it was actually preserved not by freezing, but by a slew of chemicals and other artificial ingredients that helped keep it from breaking down, and to keep it “fresh.”

GMOs were not in production or even invented yet on my 1st birthday – so this cake went from pretty bad to REALLY bad in the late 1990′s when food companies like Pepperidge Farm started sneaking GMOs into our food. This was right around the time I left the house for college and discovered Costco cake, which I thought was better (but that’s another story) and stopped eating this cake.

Looking back at this photo, I wanted to understand why the heck a company named after a farm would sell junk food filled with garbage like this? I was downright shocked when I learned the history of Pepperidge Farm and how it started.

The founder Margaret Rudkin had a son who was asthmatic and had an allergy to commercially baked products that contained preservatives and artificial ingredients. He would have terrible reactions when he ate the bread sold in their town’s local bakery, so she decided to make her own bread without additives. The son’s doctor saw an immediate improvement in her son’s allergies after making the switch to home baked bread and started to recommend her bread to his patients with asthma. He eventually convinced Margaret to sell the baked goods to small grocers throughout the area. She named the company after her family’s farm – “Pepperidge.” Her baked goods became very popular especially after she visited Europe to discover what is known as the Milano cookie and Goldfish cracker from Switerzerland and brought it back to the states to sell her own licensed version. Campbell Soup bought her company in 1961 and Margaret continued as the head of the company until she died in 1967. I am not sure when Campbell Soup completely destroyed the integrity and quality of her products – but looking at the ingredients in Pepperidge Farm products today, there is NO WAY these ingredients would be considered natural, free of artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives, like Margaret originally intended for her products.

Case and point – Gold Fish is being sued right now for misleading labeling and false advertising. On the label of Gold Fish it states “Natural” and “No Artificial Preservatives,” however, the product is made with genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs) – namely canola or soybean oil. How can a company claim something is natural when they are using ingredients made in a laboratory? Remember there is nothing natural about taking DNA, a virus or bacteria from one species and inserting it into another. GMOs are man made, not tested for long term human safety and pose disastrous consequences to our water, land and the entire food supply.


I’ve been quoted before saying that I think Gold Fish is one of the most dangerous products on supermarket shelves. The reason I say this is because they are so friendly, unassuming, “made with smiles” and look “natural” enough for millions of families to feed them to themselves and their children. In actuality, they are nothing more than refined white flour colored with annatto, made with GMO oils and a certain special ingredient called “autolyzed yeast” that is actually a hidden form of MSG. This ingredient is probably the most disastrous because it stimulates the brain cells to remember a taste, make you want more and enhance the flavor of something that would other wise not taste as addicting. This is the first cracker that millions of children eat… and this has to stop.

When I saw a new product on the shelf from Pepperidge Farm called “Baked Naturals” – I thought it was a pretty daring move considering the recent lawsuit and all the potential GMO ingredients it contains in the form of various oils, cornstarch and soy lecithin.


Recently, I was delighted to find out Pepperidge Farm removed artificial coloring from their line of Gold Fish and created a new Mac & Cheese product that is colored naturally. However, it would have been nice for them to leave out the yeast extract – another form of hidden MSG and possible GMOs in the form of maltodextrin.


There is even Gold Fish shaped 100% whole wheat bread that is full of GMOs, preservatives and other ingredients like carrageenan that are seriously questionable because of their link to intestinal inflammation. So many moms are buying this product for their children thinking it is natural and healthy, but that can’t be farther from the truth.


Pepperidge Farm’s Light Style Wheat bread has fooled me in the past. I thought I hit the jackpot, getting to eat two slices of bread for 80 calories, but the only person hitting the jackpot was Pepperidge Farm by taking my money and millions of other people’s money and selling us cheap ingredients in the form of GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, dough conditioners (DATEM is linked to asthma), preservatives and artificial sugars.

The artificial sweetener “Sucralose” (a.k.a. Splenda) is added to keep the calories down, make it unnaturally sweet and get you addicted. Recent research out of Europe showed rats developed leukemia after consuming Sucralose. This is obviously an ingredient no one should be consuming… especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Diet breads are worthless when they contain artificial sweeteners because they increase sugar cravings and promote weight gain. That’s right – consuming artificial sweeteners actually increases your appetite. Think about it – when someone consumes something that is sweet, but it has little to no calories – their brain receives a signal to want more calories because their body is not actually getting any energy (i.e. enough calories) to get satisfied.  So that person keeps looking for gratification elsewhere and ends up craving more.


The thing that makes me the most angry about Pepperidge Farm cookies is their fancy packaging. It’s like they were specially made just for me with those fancy compartments divided with paper cupcake holders. They make it seem like you are buying such a premium upscale and high quality product – it even says the word “Distinctive” on the label. These Milano cookies, along with other flavor varieties contain nothing but cheap worthless ingredients that do nothing in terms of nutrition for your body.  Quality cookies do not contain partially hydrogenated oils, but instead real butter.


If Margaret Rudkin were alive today – what would she think?  Do you think she would have sold her company to Campbell Soup knowing that her products would turn into the same ones that caused her son so much trouble?

Luckily, I haven’t seen any Pepperidge Farm products in my family’s pantry for a long time now and I hope it stays that way. I obviously haven’t bought this brand in a while and thankfully don’t have bad asthma or allergies anymore either.

If you know someone who still buys Pepperidge Farm products, please share this post with them. There is no more integrity left in their brand and they do not deserve anyone’s hard earned money.

Wishing you the greatest health imaginable,

Food Babe



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174 Responses to “How Pepperidge Farm Duped My Family”

  1. Kathy

    Never, ever did I think Goldfish were a “natural” food. I mean look at the color, for gosh sakes! lol

    • JuliB1955 (to Kathy)

      Although, the coloring–which the ingredients say comes from turmeric, which is very good for you and which I take every day–might be the most truly natural thing about them. Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look in the spice aisle at turmeric. Same color as goldfish. Off topic, but I’d like to know if the Foodbabe has written about “natural” strawberry flavoring, which comes not from strawberries but from beaver-anus extract, and I kid you not. Foodbabe: please check this out and warn everyone. Thanks!

  2. Wayne

    Thank you foodbabe for all your help to improve the health of America.

  3. wayne

    The person who put me on the path of healthy eating has a degree in biochemistry and is a health nut. Is into homeopathy and natural healing with food. Science as I see it has no place in our food. Science has caused the bad chemicals to be added to our food. And to make fake food no one should eat.

    • doreen (to wayne)

      If science has no place in our food then don’t cook because that’s chemistry itself. Boiling water is a physical change in its state. Heating up eggs denatures the proteins which is irreversible. You know we should all stop eating meat because cooking it messes with the nitrogen bonds and causes it to be….oops…a carcinogen.

      • Kurt (to doreen)

        Oh geez, you know what he meant. Stop being a troll.

    • Jack Dee (to wayne)

      ffs, I see this attack of science constantly from the nutrition and health movement, science isn’t the enemy here, Science is a method, or mechanism for empirically finding truth in the world we live in (science comes from the latin word for knowledge). Wayne, science has brought you all the great technology you depend on every day. You wouldn’t be reading this message if it wasn’t for scientific process, you’d still be in a field somewhere waiting to catch bubonic plague. Corporations that lie to their customers are the enemy, pseudo-scientists who peddle bad science and distort the truth because they’re getting they’re research paid for by the corporations are the enemy… wake up.

  4. Michelle

    It’s case IN point. Not case AND point.

    • Michelle (to Michelle)

      Thank you

    • anon (to Michelle)

      And the grammar nazi strikes again! Thunderous applause!!!

      • Michelle (to anon)

        Why thank you Sir or is it Madam? Hard to tell, anons all look so alike these days.

      • JuliB1955 (to anon)

        Seems the Foodbabe took the correction in the spirit in which it was given. She obviously wants to know the truth about things, and being beyond grammatical reproach only ADDS to her credibility. I am personally grateful when people care enough about me to correct me. It might sting momentarily, but it won’t do me or anyone else any good to give the ego full reign.

    • jill (to Michelle)


  5. locksmith

    I don’t even know how I finished up here, however I assumed this put up was once good. I don’t know who you’re however certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you happen to are not already. Cheers!

  6. Pboyette

    This blog post from Whole Foods says that autolyzed yeast is a glutamate but NOT MSG.

    Autolyzed yeast has less glutamates than MSG and (according to the blog) less effect on people.

  7. Amy

    Hi Food Babe, great post on Goldfish, I want to repost to 100′s of Moms Clubs around the country who buy millions of these crackers but can you please offer your favorite Alternatives to these products so we have a place to turn to, thanks! Otherwise, we’re just a fish out of water (pun intended!)

  8. kkun

    Lies all lies

  9. Jon

    Woman, you obviously have waaaay too much free time worrying about his stuff. Find a real cause to help humans…

    • Susan Parker Leigh (to Jon)

      You have obviously never suffered from food sensitivities. They are difficult to track down and even more difficult to avoid. Any help in truthful labeling is greatly appreciated by those who suffer health problems. This is a very real cause!

    • melissa (to Jon)

      John how is caring about Humans health and what we put in our body NOT important is the question?

  10. Beth A

    They also spray their Goldfish packaging with a preservative, Bht! Never have been natural in my eyes! Thanks for getting the word out!

  11. Laura

    I never heard of cornstarch being unhealthy. Whats wrong with that?

  12. Cynthia Jill Warner

    I am so bummed about Pepperidge Farms! I thought they were quality but I will now never buy any Pepperidge Farms product again. Boohoo :(

  13. celeste

    I was born here in America but my dad, being a single dad, bought that very same cake when I was a young girl. i haven’t had one in ages…but those Milano cookies…Oh my goodness….

    I haven’t bought either in a long long time, but like you, I can still remember that cake and when I do happen to go in a grocery store that carries them, I immediately flash back to a time with my daddy…

    It’s great to see all the big strides happening in food happening recently…even with the 522 vote not being passed in Washington.

    Keep up the great work Food Babe!

  14. Ron

    I may be off subject here but what are “Natural Flavor”s?

  15. KMC

    While I applaud your efforts to improve the health, well being and awareness of consumers, there is a bit of hypocrisy in this website.

    Although my assumption may be incorrect, it looks as if the ‘problem’ ingredients are listed in red on the ingredient labels that were included with this post

    “There is even Gold Fish shaped 100% whole wheat bread that is full of GMOs, preservatives and other ingredients like carrageenan that are seriously questionable because of their link to intestinal inflammation.”

    Some of the ingredients that are listed in red (carrageenan, guar gum) are the very same ingredients used to make Breyers Ice Cream. (Unilever) A company that (please correct me if I am wrong) looks to be paying for advertising space right next to the post that is condemning them.

    • Erin (to KMC)

      My issue with this article is that no one is being “misled.” The ingredients, along with the nutrition information, is listed on every package. It takes what, 30 seconds, to read a label? I read the labels of every food item I purchase so that I am aware what I am putting into my body. No, Milano cookies (they’re cookies!) are not good for you. Goldfish crackers are not good for you. Did anyone really think they were?

    • Katy (to KMC)

      Most advertising on the internet is done based on your web browsing. So, they just push what they think will interest you. It is not specific to FoodBabe but to you.

  16. porofessor


  17. Natalie

    well… DUH!

  18. Eagles

    Quite good post. I became aware of your own web site and also wished to declare that I have genuinely loved surfing around your website blogposts. No matter the reason I am registering to your own feed and i’m wanting you’re yet again as soon as possible!

  19. Anonymous

    As much as I fully support and attempt to incorporate unprocessed foods into my diet, I am a little confused about why sometimes on ingredient labels that are reviewed on the site Sugar is highlighted and sometimes it is not. I suspect it depends on where in the list of ingredients it is (e.g. if it is higher on the list it will be highlighted vs when it is lower on the ingredient list), but am not sure.

    Aside from that question, I totally agree that Goldfish and cheese/dairy products in general are addictive, stemming from my personal experience. I am curious to read the research, and any tips for managing/lowering that addiction would be helpful. Thanks!

    • Nichole (to Anonymous)

      Sugar can come from many different sources. Usually if it only says sugar it came from sugar beets which are genetically modified. If it says cane sugar it is from where most people think of sugar coming from, sugar cane.

      • Evelyn (to Nichole)

        Why do you think that sugar that comes from beets is genetically modified? Beets are a natural source of sugar just like the cane sugar. Really, there should be a little more common sense displayed on this site rather than spreading unfounded rumors.

      • Nichole (to Nichole)

        Most sugar beets are gmo now a days.

  20. Brigitta

    My daughter is allergic to Goldfish crackers. When she eats them, she gets a rash on her chin. Her pediatrician thinks it is one of the preservatives (she also got a similar reaction from a NutriGrain bar) but she said it is probably a good thing because it will force her to make healthier food choices and according to her, kids shouldn’t be eating goldfish crackers anyway! We have a recipe for “cheesy pretzels” with sharp cheddar that have a similar taste but we make them ourselves so we know exactly what’s going in them.

    • kim (to Brigitta)

      pretzels are not good either….made with white flour!! just fyi…. it’s so hard to find good alternatives…

  21. Don

    This makes me sad. I love Gold Fish. It’s a staple at my house.

  22. Elizabeth fox

    I could tear this apart with all it’s propaganda and hype. My main gripe is that you have SUGAR highlighted on these ingredient lists as well as CANOLA OIL, SOYBEAN OIL and COTTONSEED OIL. First, SUGAR… made from beats or sugar cane, is NATURAL!! Here in Michigan our sugar is made from beets, it has been a natural sweetener since the 17th century…tell me how it is dangerous??? CANOLA OIL, SOYBEAN OIL and COTTONSEED OIL are all healthy alternatives to animal fats. What do you expect people to eat? Complaining about artificial sweeteners, by the way, is idiotic…what part of artificial don’t you understand? If you don’t like the HMOs in your foods, go live in the country and grow your own food products, become self sufficient, and quit complaining about foods you purchase for the convenience of not having to work in a field all day long just for the privilege of starving when the storms or insects destroy your crops.

    • Lara (to Elizabeth fox)

      Canola, cottonseed, sugar beets and soybeans are the TOP GMO crops….no thanks! I’ll stick to organic sugar, coconut, sunflower or safflower oils! Might I suggest some research (and I don’t mean that snarky! Just from an educational stand point!) it seems that maybe u don’t believe that GMOs are harmful? All I’m looking for is LABELING! Though banning them would be nice! ;) I hope u find some answers in your journey! My goal is to protect my family as best I can! Suicide By Sugar is a great read to study the effects of sugar! Best regards!

  23. Tracey

    Food allergies are so prevelent because kids dont eat meals from tb beginning. Parents have become lazy and takeout and frozen is commmplace. Thst being said my child has stomach and digestive isues that the doctors swore were food allergies and after years of testing and diet modification. It turned out to be Chron’s. Not allergies. It turns out that food allergies are the go to diagnosis because parents want immediate answers. I will nevet again trust an allergie diagnosis .

  24. Marc

    This piece does a good job of feigning knowledge about a topic that is vastly oversimplified. GMO’s are not an ingredient. Genetically modified food is different from food to food. Some may be safe while others are not. This sweeping statement about GMO’s is just alarmist thinking disguised as valid nutritional information.
    The issue is not science affecting food. The issue is knowledge (of which this article delivers almost none). Just because one thinks GMO’s are bad doesn’t make them bad across the board and vice versa.
    As for “natural ingredients” this term is tossed around frivolously at best. Oils that come from vegetation are natural regardless of where they are extracted. A Mediterranean community making olive oil on a farm isn’t more natural than making oil in a lab if the techniques are the same. If the process creates a dangerous product then perhaps there is a difference, but location and who is doing it doesn’t mean anything.

  25. kath

    If you have food allergies then maybe you should read the packages!!

    • rett (to kath)

      My daughter has food allergies. We read labels. But when she had a PF Strawberry Thumbprint Cookie at her grandmother’s, the allergens were not highlighted. And somewhere among the large block of 4 pt type, PECANS were listed. They didn’t see it, and dealt with a swollen-faced sick grandchild. I’m looking for an ingredient list on PF’s website – cannot find it. Its not under “nutritional info” for the product. Very irresponsible!!

  26. Carol

    The sad thing is that Americans have become so used to the taste of artificial everything they no longer seem to like the real thing at all. I owned a cupcake store for 2+ years ( sold it 6 weeks ago). These cupcakes were obviously not “healthy”, but they were wholesome: pure organic butter, real sugar, fair trade organic choclate, etc….and no food coloring, ever. Women would come in for sweets for their kids’ parties and leave diappointed because the cakes weren’t Barbie pink or GI Joe green, and negative reviews on yelp actually complained of the taste of butter in the buttercream.

  27. Margaret

    I’ve no doubt that this is true. However, to single out one company can mislead people to believe that other companies are better. I think most prepared foods are suspect; only the most basic frozen foods like plain vegetables (not those with sauces) and juices have a chance at being safe and nutritious.

  28. Jenn

    Can’t children grow out of allergies? Do you even have any evidence that this was actually causing your allergies? Did you take into account what else you were eating?

  29. Catherine

    What is GMO?

  30. Soares

    well labels are there for a reason……parents should check the ingredients to be sure its what they want for their children/family

  31. Valeria

    Thanks for the post…do you have any good, non-GMO, organic bread suggestions?

  32. Lol.

    Read this article while eating goldfish crackers….

  33. Dar

    Anything that states it has natural flavors actually has Castoreum in it which is from Beaver Anus:
    CastoreumCastoreum /kæsˈtɔriəm/ is the exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) and the European Beaver (Castor fiber). Within the zoological realm, castoreum is the yellowish secretion of the castor sac which is, in combination with the beaver’s urine, used during scent marking of territory.[1][2] Both male and female beavers possess a pair of castor sacs and a pair of anal glands located in two cavities under the skin between the pelvis and the base of the tail.[3] The castor sacs are not true glands (endocrine or exocrine) on a cellular level, hence references to these structures as preputial glands or castor glands are misnomers.[4] Castor sacs are a type of scent gland.

  34. Joy

    So what do you feel your kids? It seems everything has something bad in it. I tried Annie’s bunnys ans my son won’t eat them. He loves goldfish. Also can anyone suggest a cinnamon bread that isn’t too bad for you. We tried the Ezekiel bread but he won’t eat that either.

  35. LMC

    Are animal crackers okay to eat? What about girl scout cookies?

  36. Gina

    HI Food Babe,

    I totally support all your efforts!! It is so hard to convince friends and family that GMOs are behind all the diseases that are now common in kids and adults. Is there some way you can find out what ingredients were in the candies and breakfast cereals in the 80′s before GMOs were put in our foods? I feel like our butterfingers bars in the 80′s had actual sugar in it and not all these GMO ingredients.



  37. Lyzzy

    I read ingredients, tought my granddauhter 2 years ago. Guess I didn’t know the terms, GMO, natural flavor – castoreum I need help! I shop at a Pepperidge Farm outlet here. purchasing a variety of their breads, and Gold Fish. Jjust this week their mac and cheese for my granddauhter’s 8th birthday. slumber party!

  38. Diane

    Food Babe,
    So glad you published this. After reading Pandora’s Lunchbox a couple of years ago, my family looks at food differently. There are only few cereals and breads on the market that are safe. We were astounded at all the yeast extract, Torula Yeast and other hidden MSG’s big companies like Campbell’s and Frito Lay are using. We make our own pizza crust and most breakfast items. Even local bakeries are using Bromides and other chemicals. Shame the government can’t regulate better. GRAS guidelines are hurting all of us. Foods outlawed in other countries are still on the USA ingredient lists. Thanks for your website… wish everyone would follow it!

  39. Carlito

    Why do you assume all soybean and canola oil is GMO? Soybeans are a healthy natural bean.

  40. Melinda

    I just recently bought Goldfish crackers with the extra cheese, thinking they were one of the “healthier” choices for a snack. I opened a bag today and they had a strange, very unpleasant aftertaste. I remember tasting this strange aftertaste on the potato chips that I threw in the trash last month. They were Ruffles cheese flavored potato chips. I bought these chips before, a while ago and don’t remember this unpleasant taste, that I can’t stop being disgusted by now. They must be putting something different on these products. It is nasty and I will not be buying these products again. It seems to have to do with cheese products. It might be going into the cookies, as well. It is time to learn to cook. No more shortcuts, not worth it.

  41. Naomi (to Brittany)

    I understand your concern. However, many MANY people profit from these major food companies and they are doing so to the detriment of the countries health. If we can shift the dollars to companies producing healthier products then jobs and demand will still be there. They will just be earning a living thru a company that is helping instead of hurting.

  42. Linda (to )

    The sugar in the cookie was probably made with beet sugar which is GMO. Unless the sugars on the packages does not say something like raw cane sugar, I will not usually touch it. I would go to the website of the sweetened products I want to try to find out whether or not it contains GMO sugars. Unfortunately I can tell right away when I have been ‘duped’ with GMO sugars because I get ill very quickly. It has gotten to the point that any potlucks my family and I participate, I now bring my organic foods from home. I’d rather not suffer for a couple of days from having been exposed to GMO, chemical, and toxin foods.

  43. Michelle (to )

    There also is no scientifically valid study that shows that GMO’s are safe. If they are safe, then why the hesitation in doing what it takes to prove it?

  44. Jim (to Naomi)

    What is the IF we can switch? IT IS YOUR CHOICE! DUH.. SWITCH ALREADY! and stop complaining.. disturbing.. very.

  45. Boss (to Naomi)

    I used to work at a fish farm packaging freshly caught fish. I would spend all day placing fillets into packs to be sold at local grocers. I always found it funny because now and then we would put THE SAME fillets into a fancier pack labled organic. I always laughed to myself thinking “someone is actually gonna pay 10 fold for this label” because what’s the difference between organic fish and fish caught for the super market? Nothing!
    my point is, the most profitable thing a food company could do is go natural or organic. Yes I’m aware it can cost more to provide the same product from slightly more natural sources(natural doesn’t mean safe) but the paranoia and fear that nutritionalist propaganda has set into most people these days allows them to charge far and beyond the increased cost of production with no worry of people saying no because there’s is the only “safe” option for your family.

  46. whisperingsage (to Michelle)

    There are plenty of GMO studies that show is isn’t safe- google GMO rats and see what comes up. 50% infant mortality in mice and rats, those that survive, are 1/2 to 1/3 the size on normal rat, and are unthrifty, have bad coats , look sickly, and by the 3rd generation are infertile. Heyy….. that may be why they allow this stuff- to make us all infertile! I get it now!!!! Good sneakiness, Depopulationists (for more on that, look up the Georgia Guidestones and see what they have written in STONE for the world to see. “maintain” the population at half a billion people. Yeah, that’s it, GMO’s estrogen in soy, estrogen in plastics…

  47. Laurie (to Boss)

    If it was actually a farmed fish operation then it was highly illegal to market the fish as organic. Correct me if I am wrong but I didn’t think there was any organic farmed fish on the market? But then again we only eat fish we catch ourselves so I might be behind the times.


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