Field Guide to Processed Poisons

I think the last time I ate at McDonald’s was sometime prior to 2005 – and I distinctly remember the last fast food I consumed. It was a horrible grilled “chicken” sandwich at Wendy’s. Disgusting.

It was, like, 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night, and I’d just finished a Roller Derby bout. It was always challenging to find something quick and portable to eat after a bout because I was usually starving, tired, sweaty, and in the car, anxious to get my fanny to the after-party at whatever bar was hosting that night. Man! My habits have sure changed.

Anyway… Dave and I stopped at a totally low-rent Wendy’s near Sixth Street in Austin because I knew I could at least get “grilled” chicken. I ordered it with no mayo, discarded the mushy, sugary bun and picked up the floppy, rubbery, pasty-white “chicken” breast. After three bites, I tossed it in the trash… and that’s the last time I will ever eat at Wendy’s.

I’m totally out of the fast food and packaged foods consumption cycle, and it’s STUNNING to me to observe the creativity that goes into reformulating and repackaging snack foods to be smaller, cuter, more portable, and potentially, more irresistible.

[True story: When I saw the new coconut M&Ms in the grocery store checkout aisle, I almost rationalized myself into trying them like this: “They’re made with dark chocolate and coconut; both of those things are mostly OK.”… “I’ll just eat 10 of them and throw the rest away.” … “I never eat candy; it won’t kill me to eat just a few. Plus, they’re COCONUT.” Then I read the ingredients and saw sugar and corn starch and corn syrup and soy, and the spell was broken. Repeat this pattern for the new pretzel M&Ms, minus the rationalization about the coconut. Yes, I can still be tempted by sexied-up garbage food.]

So, back to my main point: snack makers and fast food producers are evil geniuses. Consider this post a Field Guide to Processed Poisons. Be vigilant! Arm yourself with knowledge and veggies! And limit your grocery shopping to the perimeter of the store and your restaurant dining to establishments that don’t provide your food in a paper-based container designed to fit into your car’s cupholder.

Field Guide to Processed Poisons

Carl’s Jr. Footlong Cheeseburger
Three burger patties and three cheese slices on a foot long bun… $4 WITHOUT lettuce and tomatoes, another 50 cents to add the veggies. Be on the lookout for this monster in text markets in California and Indiana.


Lasagna Sandwich
Tomato sauce, cooked sheets of pasta, and “a creamy cheddar, ricotta, mayonnaise dressing” on BREAD. Pasta on bread. The mind reels. Discover it in its natural habitat at British grocery store chain Tesco. (There’s a Tesco in Prague; I wonder if I’ll spot the elusive Lasagna Sandwich in its natural habitat.)

The LAS-andwich. [Photo: News of the World

Sushi in a Tube
A personal sushi dispenser… like Pez only fishy. Why fuss with utensils and a plate?! Sliced sushi in a plastic tube. Eat from the top, push up from the bottom. Can be tracked and captured online at


Kraft Macaroni & Cheese EXPLOSION
It’s a “bigger blast of cheese sauce.” First ingredient? Enriched macaroni product. In the “cheese” sauce? Whey, modified corn starch, granular cheese, corn syrup solids, xantham gum. Can be found across the U.S. in grocery stores; look for its unmistakable blue and yellow plumage.


I considered writing my own description for this one, but the marketing materials were so tasty in their original format, I decided to share them as-is. Spotted online but not yet in the wild.


Doughnut Burger
I admit I really did indulging in my bacon cookies and bacon brownies the ONE TIME I made each of them (at home, from high-quality ingredients, to share). But even I’m not ready to fully combine entree and dessert this way. Meet the doughnut burger: a “beef” patty nestled between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts. “You just have to have something new to keep people entertained,” said creator Dennis Reas. Avoid this specimen at all costs at the Indiana State Fair.


Hot Beef Sundae
Take the ‘Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl’ concept to its natural evolution with the Hot Beef Sundae. Why chew when you can simply swallow? Observe this beast in Nebraska and Iowa at your own risk.


And now I’m off to eat some grass-fed beef, broccoli, and coconut oil!

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  • ~Melisa says:

    2 Words: FREAKIN' DISGUSTING! Thanks for sharing!

  • MelG says:

    Mmmm, bacon brownies. Awesome once, not sure I'd do it again.

    Had my own interesting food find this weekend. Hunting for some jerky and I spy a new brand, Primal, totally excited until I get close enough to read, Primal, meatless vegan jerky. I cannot figure out the point of meatless jerky.

  • Danni says:

    Gross. It's hard for me to imagine that people would really be tempted by those foods, assuming they are real which is also hard to imagine. For some reason it doesn't even occur to me anymore to get fast food, even when I'm hungry and in the car. I much prefer to squander my health and calories on beer or high quality junk food like fried cheese :p

  • tamikamaria says:

    Your story of the Wendy's "chicken" reminds me of an incident my cousin told me of. She and her husband own a towing business in a largish midwestern city. They got a call from a guy in need of towage and went out on the interstate to pick him up. In the course of events one of them opened the guy's trunk and found it full of chicken. Raw chicken. No cooler, no ice, just chicken. Turns out he was the owner of one of the KFC's in town and had just been to a different town (which was a fair distance away, I might add) to pick up the chicken for the day.

    She has never eaten at KFC again, and any tiny, tiny glimmer of desire I ever had to eat there has been erased as well. Ick.

    I have no idea what the raw chicken transportation protocol is for other fast food restaurants, but I would hope most of them have more sense and decency than that.

  • Lydia says:

    The emoticon does not exist that can properly display my reaction to this post. *shudder*

  • Angie says:

    Bleh. All of that looks disgusting. Since going primal, I've been amazed to find that the few packaged items I buy are hard to find without added sugar. Sausage for instance: why does it need sugar? I found one brand that proudly displayed "no sugar" on its label. But the ingredient list had several chemicals that I'd never heard of. Googled them, and they were all bad. How about just meat and spices? *sigh*

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I hear ya, Angie. Ingredient lists are terrifying!

    If you mix ground meat (any kind, really: turkey, pork, beef, bison, lamb) with a quality sausage seasoning, you get the flavor of sausage without the junk. I use Penzeys ( — they have a little bit of sugar, but it's negligible.

  • Dana says:

    You could totally do a beef sundae with cauliflower “fauxtatoes”–if you do dairy, those are awesome with cream cheese added–and it wouldn’t be any sort of starchfest at all.

    Actually I’m really wishing for a Paleo style food booth at fairs and festivals and wondering if I’m going to have to move outside my comfort zone and start one myself just to make it happen.