KFC and HFCS

Menu ingredients

There are only a few restaurants that I frequent, not because the food is somehow better there, but because the choice of ingredients by corporate chefs. Some businesses choose to use high fructose corn syrup as an additive in menu items (I understand this choice from a cost/profitability perspective, from a sugar/sweetness index perspective, and from an addictiveness perspective). For many years I have avoided fast food restaurants because the ingredient list is difficult to obtain.

In my case I am not part of the “HFCS is the evil in the food industry” crowd. I simply have an allergy where I can not process this sugar, and to consume it makes me physically sick. To give these institutions $5 for a meal, is to give myself a 5 dollar-14 hour illness. This has resulted in a lot of label reading. So when I go to a restaurant I always ask for ingredient lists.

Today I stop by KFC for the first time in 10 years, I asked the clerk behind the counter if they could give me an ingredients list for the traditional and extra crispy chicken, he promptly contacted his manager who came out and told me that they could not give out ingredients list for liability reasons. However, I could go to the website and look at the nutritional information provided by KFC on their website.

In a way this is surprising because at many places like QDoba I can ask at the register (which is no longer just a point of sale, but is a point of service) and receive a printed list of ingredients. Other companies have been able to print off ingredients from their point of service machines for menu items.

Here is the rub: KFC is one of those companies that uses a service to manage the information presentation of their ingredient lists. They use nutritionix.com.

Now the fact that they use a service is not inherently bad, and shows that some management thought has gone into providing customers with access to some ingredients, but the following question should be asked from a services management perspective: is this service meeting the needs of our customers? In this case I would like to suggest it doesn’t. The nutritionix page for KFC starts the user out by having them select the allergens that they would like to avoid.

The problem is that things like high fructose corn syrup are not considered allergens (by this website). A broader approach to information access in this case would solve more use cases. What if the question asked was: what ingredients would you like to avoid?

Asking the question this way would allow users and customers like me to quickly find menu items that fall within our dietary needs.

What is in a soda?

The pictured sign in the KFC, which is also shared with an A & W suggest that the root beer sold by A & W in this particular store is made with real cane sugar. It does not expressly state that there is no high fructose corn syrup in the soda, only that there is also at least some real cane sugar included in the drink. It is often the case with sodas that if they are made with real cane sugar it’s implied that there without high fructose corn syrup. So when my wife ordered me one I was curious what was really in the drink. With this in mind I went to the A & W website (because the staff of this jointly branded store is unlikely to tell me anything about the A & W ingredients either) to find their ingredients list. I found a PDF which shows that their root beer does contain high fructose corn syrup. The disappointing feature of this soda is that there is an apparent disagreement between the corporate messaging in store and their presentation online. I feel the in store messaging is misleading in a physically painful manner.

Sporks

Photo of spork.

As an aside, my 2 year old daughter found eating with the spork difficult. The macaroni and cheese kept falling off. But this is is more about making the eating experience more family friendly, rather than less painful.

The Ulster Fry

The Ulster Fry

The Ulster Fry : a traditional full breakfast from Northern Ireland.

This week Becky and I have been vising some of her friends in Northern Ireland. It has been interesting to sit and talk with people and to watch how the culture is different when compared the cultural elements we encountered in Edinburgh, Scotland. On of the things we had the privilege of eating was an Ulster Fry. Complete with eggs, ham, potato, tomato, sausage, toast, jam, tea, farls and friends.

Girl Scout Samoas

Girl Scout Samoas are my second favorite Girl Scout Cookie (GSC). But the price is outrageous and they use High Fructose Corn Syrup. I think I would rather eat a brownie. So I though it time that Becky and I figure out a recipe we like. So, here are a few we’ll try when we get back to the States:

Recipe: Girl Scout Samoa Cookies (Copycat)

Ingredients

  1. 6 tablespoons butter
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  4. 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  5. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  6. 4 cups toasted coconut
  7. 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Place each shortbread cookie in cup of a greased muffin tin.
  2. In 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, sugar and corn syrup.
  3. Heat to a full boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Slowly pour in sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly.
  6. Continue cooking over low heat until candy thermometer reaches 220-228ºF degrees.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Stir in vanilla.
  9. Beat until creamy.
  10. Immediately stir in toasted coconut and mix well.
  11. Spoon mixture by teaspoonfuls over shortbread cookies.
  12. Cool completely.
  13. Remove cooled cookies from muffin tin onto waxed paper.
  14. Melt chocolate chips and drizzle thinly in stripes over cookies and let chocolate harden at room temperature.
  15. Store in airtight container.

Quick Notes

24 -30 shortbread cookies (I used Lauryn Clark’s copycat recipe for the Girl Scout shortbread cookies, just cut them out so that they look right.)

Variations

Substitutions: 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tbsp water = 1/2 cup light corn syrup; 1/2 cup honey = 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Meal type: dessert

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

Recipe: Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

Ingredients

  1. 6 tblsp butter shopping list
  2. 1/2 cup sugar shopping list
  3. 1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup shopping list
  4. 1/2 of a 14 ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk shopping list
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract shopping list
  6. 4 cups toasted coconut shopping list
  7. 1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a 2 quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, sugar and corn syrup.
  2. Heat to a full boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Slowly pour in Eagle Brand milk, stirring constantly. Continue cooking over low heat until candy thermometer reaches 220-228 degrees.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Beat until creamy. Immediately stir in toasted coconut and mix well.
  5. Spoon by tablespoonfuls into circular mounds onto buttered wax paper. Flatten slightly. With the end of a wooden spoon, poke a small round hole into the center of each cookie.
  6. Cool completely.
  7. Melt the chocolate chips and drizzle thinly in stripes over cookies. Let chocolate harden at room temperature. Store in a airtight container.
  8. To toast coconut: Spread coconut on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.

Meal type: dessert

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

Recipe: Caramel de-Lites

Summary: Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Samoas

Ingredients

    Cookies

  1. 1 cup butter, soft
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 cups all purpose flour
  4. 1/4 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  7. up to 2 tbsp milk
  8. Topping

  9. 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  10. 12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
  11. 1/4 tsp salt
  12. 3 tbsp milk
  13. 8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Instructions

    Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.
  3. Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough. Alternatively, use scant tablespoons of dough and press into an even layer in a mini donut pan to form the rounds.
  4. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. If using a mini donut pan, bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are light gold.
  5. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Topping

  7. Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  8. Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
  9. Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.
  10. While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.
  11. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Quick Notes

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

Variations

Samoas Bars

Meal type: dessert

Culinary tradition: USA (General)