Tostitos – The Healthy Snack?

I was watching television this morning while I was eating breakfast and saw a commercial that illustrated everything that is wrong right now in America in terms of our health.  Here’s how the commercial went.

Tostitos - the healthy snack?

A man is walking down the aisle in the grocery store and he stops and stares at a shelf full of Tostitos corn chips.  He says to himself, “Whole grain?  I thought corn was a vegetable?”  This fact, according to the commercial, influences him to buy these chips.  The marketing on this commercial is as blatant as can be, but most people do not see it that way.  Here is my thought process on this one.

First, the man raises the question of whole grains.  Immediately all of our brains shift to healthy thoughts.  We’ve been programmed that when we hear whole grains we should think healthy.  While whole grains have their health benefits, excess amounts are not beneficial either, but I am just as guilty as most people when I hear ‘whole grains.’  I too shift to thinking about health, just as the marketers want you to do.  So now they’ve got you thinking Tostitos corn chips are a healthy snack and the commercial has just begun.  To hammer home the point they do something unbelievably clever.  The man’s next statement is that he ‘thought’ corn was a vegetable.  This is clearly to suggest that no matter how you think about it, whole grain or vegetable, these chips must be healthy! It is quite an amazing job of getting people to think health when thinking about a snack that is actually very bad for your health.

There is a small portion of the population that will see through this marketing and I suspect most of you reading this are those people.  However, millions of Americans will see that commercial and assume that corn chips are a healthy snack because, as the commercial suggests, they are made from whole grains – or was it vegetables?  It doesn’t matter which one it is because they’re both healthy, right?  And there is the goal of the commercial.  The chips are healthy because they’re made with whole grains or vegetables.  Period.  So, the next time these people go to buy chips, they won’t get anything else because they are ‘health conscious’ and the commercial said these are a healthy snack.  Notice they never actually stated it was a healthy snack.  This would get them into trouble with the FDA for false advertising.  All of the ‘health’ talk in the commercial is implied through words like ‘whole grains’ and ‘vegetables.’

As a matter of fact their website talks about these chips and says they have just three simple ingredients – “corn, natural oil and a dash of salt.”  What they fail to tell you is that their chips have a very high glycemic index because of the white corn they use.  Consuming lots of white corn tortillas is a great way to give yourself diabetes. But Tostitos doesn’t want you to know that.  Just think about the corn chips as a healthy whole grain/vegetable snack.  Maybe Tostitos can lobby Congress to get it classified as one serving of vegetables?

I’d be surprised if you could find one responsible doctor or nutritionist that would say white corn chips are a healthy snack.  They may be low in saturated fat and contain zero grams of trans fat, all the traditional markings of a healthy snack, but that does not make them healthy.  You must consider the carbohydrate count and the effect it will have on your physiology from a hormonal standpoint.  These chips will force your body to produce massive amounts of insulin and, over time, this is extremely dangerous.  It leads to diabetes which is a major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases in this country.

If you want a healthy snack, skip the middle aisles in your grocery store.  Eat things like nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables and other nutrient dense foods.  Tostitos wants you to see their chips as healthy, but they clearly are not.  They know this as well.  That’s why you don’t hear them actually use the words ‘healthy snack.’  They are trying to fool the American public to make a little bit more money.  If the government wants to reduce health care costs, they should crack down on advertising like this and really educate the public on what a ‘healthy snack’ actually is.

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14 Comments

Filed under Diet, Public Health

14 responses to “Tostitos – The Healthy Snack?

  1. Uncle Me

    Healthy alternative: cut whole wheat pitas into wedges. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt (optional). Bake at 325 until lightly brown & crisp. Then break out the salsa or white bean dip.

  2. This is an excellent article. I agree with you – I feature REAL healthy snacks on http://www.snack-girl.com/ (mostly whole foods) so that people will lose weight and be healthier.

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  4. cerealkiller

    I hope you weren’t eating cereal for breakfast when you saw this ad?

  5. Skipping the middle aisle of a chain grocery store is very good advice. They have the worst foods for you in those sections! For a healthy and alternative snack to potato chips and other mid-aisle snacks, I like to munch on cassava chips that stores like Trader Joe’s sells. Just by a quick read of their nutrition label, you’ll see how much healthier these chips are as opposed to normal potato chips. Way less fat, gluten-free, transfat-free, and dairy-free. And it doesn’t skimp on flavor! They’re delicious.

  6. shel

    I just noticed that the ” Family Size ” though “only $1 more” gives you ONLY ONE ADDITIONAL OUNCE ! A DOLLAR FOR AN EXTRA OUNCE .
    Are you serious ! Check it out consumer’s. Shop smart !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Frank B.

    Excellent article. The only problem I have with it is that I believe the people of our country should be more concerned with it, rather than your idea to impose increased paternal government restrictions on food corporations. As we have seen- the more prohibitions our government puts in place- the less virtuous our citizens are becoming.

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  9. Max Thunder

    The best snack: no snack. If people did not eat so much carbs, they wouldn’t need to snack all the time.

  10. Ann Nonymous

    Wow, I just had some of those and I’m pre-diabetic. Crap! And we had some at the restaurant yesterday. Double crap!

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  13. Spencer Bobbett

    While eating these on a regular basis is definitely not a great idea, having them after a hard, aerobic/anaerobic workout can help raise your blood sugar back to normal and prevent glycogen creeping(lowering of glycogen storage capabilities).

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