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 in 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,