Definition fest: Loudness of corn assessed; affirming what isn’t a muffin


LOUD or just corny?

Mr. Tidbit hadn’t visited the Pringles end of the potato chip aisle in quite a long time, as all that seemed to be happening among those potato crisps was the occasional new flavor (there are now 16).

Thus he hadn’t noticed Pringles Baked Stix, whenever they first appeared. (They are wheat-based and include, among the five flavors, two sweet ones: honey butter and sugar cookie.) Had he noticed them, though, between the “Stix” in the name and the drawing on the package, he would have known they weren’t just more flavors of the regular Pringles potato crisp.

That’s not the case with new Pringles LOUD. All five kinds have flavor names suggesting either spiciness or intensity, so Mr. Tidbit assumed that’s what made them a separate line from regular Pringles. Not so. Rather than the dried potatoes that are the main ingredient in regular Pringles, the first ingredient in all five LOUD versions is degerminated yellow corn flour. So they’re Corn Crisps. And two of them (Super Cheesy Italian and Mighty Margherita Pizza) also contain a “grain and vegetable blend” consisting of dried carrots, modified rice starch, malted barley flour, oat flour, dried spinach, dried peas and wheat starch. If you read down far enough, there’s even a soupcon of dried potatoes.


Oh, do you know the cupcake man?


Mr. Tidbit would like to be remembered for two observations. The first, with which he described the unpleasant offspring of an equally unpleasant parent: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the horse.” The second, the one of interest here (but he likes the first one a lot), was in answer to a friend’s definitional question: “The difference between a muffin and a cupcake is intent.”

Hershey’s Gourmet Filled Muffins, a four-pack of chocolate cakes he encountered recently in a supermarket prepackaged-bakery section, has caused him not to rethink his muffin/cupcake remark but to aver that the item in question was misnamed. Here’s the descriptive passage on the label: “Hershey’s chocolate muffins filled with decadent Hershey’s fudge filling, topped with chocolate icing and decorated with Hershey’s chips.”

Not a word about nutrition or whole grains, no cranberries but use of the word “decadent.” Clearly that’s dessert, not the kind of abstemious comestible we call a muffin. Confirmation appears in the nutrition label: One of these objects weighs four ounces and contains 450 calories and 24 grams of fat.




Al Sicherman

Author: Al Sicherman

Al Sicherman and his used dog, Gus, live in Minneapolis. Al is on the left/

5 thoughts on “Definition fest: Loudness of corn assessed; affirming what isn’t a muffin”

  1. Dear Mr. Tidbit,
    I thought you would enjoy knowing that the truncated subject line of your recent message shows up in my email as “New post published Definition fest: Loudness of corn asses” … I know that corn has ears, but I didn’t know that corn has other body parts. And why are they loud? I don’t think I want to know.
    Kay Peltier

  2. It sounds like a cupcake to me. I always thought that “muffins” had a fairly high proportion of fat, (sugar too) and weren’t necessarily a “healthy” choice, even if they do have whole wheat flour, or grated carrots, or sunflower seeds, etc. (I’d rather have Great Harvest whole wheat toast with peanut butter anyway.)

  3. We seldom purchased Pringles, but now never. So little potato, so many substitutes and chemicals. But primarily because packaging is the most difficult–the very most difficult if not impossible–to recycle. That is important to us.

  4. Perhaps it’s time for a whole new label to cover huge gooey sweet things that aren’t muffins OR cupcakes, both of which always sounded fairly small — you know, the cute size of things you needed a muffin pan for in pre- and post-WWII America. With those cute ruffly paper cupcake skirts.
    How about new combo names like goop-fin or glup-cake?
    The potential is great — a wide-open field, barely touched. Meat-fin?

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