I was on Twitter last night checking in when I noticed an interesting hashtag: #WhoNu. For those who are uninformed: WhoNu cookies are being billed as “nutrition rich cookies.” They have, according to the manufacturer:
- as much Vitamin C as cup of blueberries
- as much iron as a cup of spinach
- as much calcium and Vitamin D as a glass of milk
- as much Vitamin A as an 8 ounce glass of tomato juice
- as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal
- as much Vitamin E as two glasses of carrot juice
- as much Vitamin B-12 as a cup of cottage cheese and fruit
Wow, I thought, a cookie that is actually healthy is probably something I would want to buy! I had to see the list of ingredients, though, since it sounded too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was. Every one of the four varieties (Chocolate, Crispy, Soft & Chewy, and Vanilla) contains artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals like monocalcium phosphate, monoglycerides, and polydextrose. (Polydextrose, according to Wikipedia, is “an indigestable synthetic polymer of glucose.” Ugh.) The Soft & Chewy version lists high fructose corn syrup as its third ingredient. Have a look at the ingredients yourself.
The Twitter party, which was HUGE and well-attended, was a busy one, but the conversation didn’t reflect the fact that these cookies are basically plain old cookies that contain some not-so-great ingredients — with some added vitamins thrown in. Instead, the hosts played up a health and nutrition angle. Most of the questions, in fact, were directly related to nutrition such as: What is your best tip for ensuring your child has a nutrition-rich diet? Do you worry your athlete is not getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diet? How do you celebrate the end of a (sports) season? What does your athlete eat after a game? What type of food would you take to your child’s game or a team party? Have you ever struggled with being asked to be the Team Snack Mom?
Attendee comments during the two-hour Twitter party were all over the place, but most were very enthusiastic. One attendee/host suggested dunking WhoNus into milk to get a “double” vitamin boost. (“When you dunk a Whonu in milk its like getting double the vitimans.”) Another said she likes crumpling up the cookies into Greek yogurt. Yet another said how happy she was that cookies were finally a healthy food. Exact words: “It is nice they are nutritious.” Sigh.
My take away from this is how smart the folks at WhoNu’s parent company Suncore Products are. They are marketing these cookies as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Moms, who may not have the time or gumption to look at the ingredients, are falling for the hype hook, line, and sinker. And that’s one of the biggest problem I have with these cookies: Parents are being lulled into thinking they are doing something good for their kids when in reality they are simply giving them a highly processed food that just happens to have vitamins in it. Oh, and the fact that all those parents are probably playing up the vitamin angle when giving them to their kids, who will then learn to equate cookies with healthy food. I’d have fewer problems with them if Suncore Products removed all the artificial gunk and high fructose corn syrup. How about you?
This post is how I am participating in this week’s Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday, two awesome blog carnivals dedicated to promoting the use and consumption of — what else? — real food. BTW: If you’re looking for a truly “healthy” cookie, why not bake some yourself? There are some great recipes out there. Try this one or this one or this one.