You just know that Vani Hari, the popular blogger and self-proclaimed “Food Babe,” was the whiny kid in her elementary school cafeteria. Chocolate milk? Who needs that? Drink your watery skim and be happy.
I picture her skipping from table to table admonishing her classmates to eat their fibrous navy beans and “reconsider turnips.”
Personally, I’d duck under the table if I saw her coming. And I might even take that big ol’ bowl of neon “butter” that sat on every cafeteria table with me along with a few packets of sugar to sprinkle on top in case she hovered.
Hari’s in the news lately because she got 350,000 signatures on her online petition asking Kraft Foods (which is such a huge conglomerate that it really should be written KRAFT FOODS) to remove the fake orange color from its popular macaroni and cheese. And it worked.
Kraft, sounding a lot like a dumped lover trying to save face, said the decision to remove the food dyes had nothing whatsoever to do with Hari’s petition. They were, uh, planning to do away with that orange color anyway, so the timing was perfect.
And stoners around the world actually wait for the noodles to be “al dente” before they dive into a bowl of that blue-box goodness. Gimme a break.
It’s obvious that the petition brought Kraft to its knees. And the victory has Vani Hari’s crusade against food dyes in hyper drive. It’s like she has eaten a bazillion boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which, of course, would never happen, but it’s like that.
Empowered by her success, the Food Babe has now asked Kraft to remove all the dyes used in two of its other iconic products: Jell-O and Kool-Aid.
Oh, no she did-unt.
I don’t know what kind of miserable childhood this woman had, but I’m guessing it involved a depressing amount of fresh fruit and robust discussions about genetically modified cauliflower.
While her classmates spent their lazy summers trading Pokemon cards and slurping up bowls of those festive dye-coated noodles, young Vani was probably crunching celery and boycotting stores that sold microwave ovens.
Yes, yes, I know that food dyes, in the words of one industry wag, “are so 1950s.” I know that’s meant as a slam, but the ’50s were cool. Sort of. Without the ’50s, we wouldn’t have all those cute couples scouring flea markets today for “atomic pattern,” mid-century coffee tables, now would we?
I’m all for food safety, as long as it doesn’t impact my own narrow notion of what is “pretty,” so let me just admit that I don’t want to see a quivering mold of transparent Jell-O at the church potluck or see kids slurp Kool-Aid at the playground, only to discover that their tongues aren’t colored and they don’t have a “juice mustache.”
Kraft says the mac and cheese change will go into effect next January, so we have a few months to stockpile. Whew.
CELIA RIVENBARK is a New York Times best-selling author and humor columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.