10 processed foods we secretly love

We all have those packaged treats we won’t be giving up any time soon. In the name of balance, Tony Naylor shares his favourites – do you agree with his top 10?

10 processed foods we secretly love title image

Big Food gets a bad rap, often deservedly so. Like you, I read Joanna Blythman’s broadside against processed food with interest and in some agreement.

However, taking the view that a little bit of what you fancy (out of a microwaveable packet) does you no harm, here are 10 industrially manufactured foods that I still love:

1. Doritos (Tangy Cheese)

Bowl of Doritos

Putting the ‘oh my!’ in umami, the ‘save me!’ in savoury, that fluorescent orange coating has me licking the last crumbs from my fingers like a ravenous dog. Forget the cliché of comparing foods to crack cocaine. I cannot believe that crack is this moreish.

2. Heinz Tomato Ketchup

Heinz long ago defined the sweet-tart flavour of tomato sauce. Why fight it?

3. Dairylea

Cheese triangle on blue background

Of course, I have my favourite raw milk, rind-washed, cave-aged cheeses. But I never ate any of those sat in my karate pyjamas watching Bullseye on a Sunday tea time. Consequently, Ticklemore or Perl Las don’t have quite the emotional pull over me that Dairylea has. Proust had his madeleines. I have Dairylea.

4. Jaffa Cakes 

Jaffa cakes and oranges

Is it a cake? Is it a biscuit? I don’t care.* I just inhaled a full packet in five minutes and 28 seconds (a new personal best!).

5. Birds Eye frozen peas

Your trump card in conversations with local, seasonal militants. Short of standing in a field podding them directly into your mouth, these are the freshest, sweetest peas you can eat. We should make greater use of vitamin-packed frozen veg.

6. Wotsits

Bowl of Wotsits

Newton? Einstein? They had their moments, but the greatest 20th-century thinker was the unsung boffin – nay, genius – who perfected high-pressure production of the puffed and gently melting ‘extruded corn snack’.

7. Cornflakes

Bowl of Cornflakes with spoon

Invented by a religious crank to dampen sexual desire, cornflakes may have failed in that regard, but they remain a spiritual experience. The concentrated dust that collects at the bottom of the box is sublime.

8. Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew

You can’t put any old chocolate in ice cream. The fatty acids in cocoa butter freeze so hard that it becomes gritty. Instead, the boffins had to create ‘chocolatey’ substances (using softer fats), which enable Ben & Jerry to mine this beauty with tiny caramel cups. Forget the moon landing, this is awe-inspiring science.

9. Butterscotch Angel Delight

The ingredients list reads like an A-level science exam (sodium phosphates, propylene glycol esters, silicon dioxide), and it only tastes nominally of butterscotch. Yet this fluffy confection is compelling.

10. Nescafé Azera Americano

Line of mugs of coffee

I own a manual coffee grinder. I have a little pour-over brew bar in my kitchen. I am that guy who can list the 10 best places to get a flat white. Sometimes though, I just want a decent coffee, right now. To that end, this charismatic instant is vital – one of a new wave of upmarket instants to mix ground coffee with the usual soluble granules.

* It's a cake. It goes hard when stale.

Read more articles by Tony Naylor...

For eats' sake, stop the music
A grumpy man's guide to eating overseas
My top 10 food waste crimes
10 unforgivable kitchen crimes
What have they done to our chocolate?
Maximum pleasure, minimum pennies
Is this the future of food?

Tony Naylor writes for Restaurant magazine and The Guardian.

Do you agree with Tony's list? Tell us your favourite packaged foods in the comments below...

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Christina Gregson's picture
Christina Gregson
11th Aug, 2018
Some of those are the absolute biz... JAFFA! and a couple I can take.. or leave but butterscotch is just all levels of vomity wrong... never liked it... and there was a time when I could 'do' heinz sandwich spread
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