By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
Originally I had planned to publish this as the alternate breakfast to the ball of oatmeal that was served at my daughter's elementary school this week. But it's just as well to focus on how much of the food offered in D.C. school cafeterias consists of processed package foods, especially at breakfast. Missing from this tray is the cereal, such as Apple Jacks, that comes in a sealed plastic tub and the ubiquitous strawberry or chocolate milk the kids pour on it.
The juice you see here is typically frozen, or at least partially frozen. It arrives that way at the school, then is moved into a walk-in refrigerator to defrost, but rarely spends enough time there to defrost completely.
What I want to focus on today is the Otis Spunkmeyer "Delicious Essential" apple cinnamon muffin. Otis Spunkmeyer was the creation of Kenneth B. Rawlings and his wife Linda, who began in the food business in 1977 with a fresh-baked cookie store in Oakland, CA. After expanding to a chain of cookie stores, they eventually left the retail business to sell frozen cookie dough nationwide, and later muffins and other baked goods.
The name "Otis Spunkmeyer" was the creation of the Rawlings' 12-year-old daughter.
After the company reached some $200 million in annual sales, the Rawlings sold it to a private investment group, and in 2006, the company passed to IAWS Group for $561 million. IAWS is described as an "international lifestyle food business" with operations in the United Kingdom, France, Canada and the U.S.
In 2008, IAWS merged with Hiestand Holding AG, a Swiss baked goods and convenience food company with operations in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Poland, Malaysia, Japan and Australia. The new company is called ARYZTA AG, which reported combined revenues of $2.3 billion.
ARYZTA AG continues to operate Otis Spunkmeyer out of San Leandro, CA.
Otis Spunkmeyer continues to do a land office business selling frozen cookie dough for school and other types of fundraisers. The company advertises its "Delicious Essentials" muffins this way on its website:
Made with Whole Grain (1.8oz size only)
Fortified with 25% Daily Value of 10 nutrients
No more than 30% calories from fat
Less than 10% calories from saturated fat
0 grams trans fat
Less than 35% added sugar by weight
No partially hydrogenated oils
3.6 oz muffin size meets CN requirements for two bread servings
1.8 oz muffin size meets CN requirements for one bread serving
In other words, the muffins have been designed to meet standards for school meals set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
These muffins are engineered using a number of industrial food additives. Here are the ingredients for the apple cinnamon muffin, as listed on the company website:
Enriched Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Eggs, Invert Sugar, Apple Sauce, Brown Rice Flour, Soybean Oil, Water. Contains 2% or less of the following: Food Starch—Modified, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Corn Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cinnamon, Salt, Potassium Sorbate as a preservative, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Propylene Glycol Monostearate, Monoglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, Caramel Color. Nutrient Blend: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin E Acetate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Sulfate, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Vitamin D-3, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin B-12.Contains: Milk, Wheat, Eggs
Oh, and each apple cinnamon muffin contains 15 grams of sugar, almost four teaspoons worth.