We've all done it -- we know the generic version is perfectly fine, but we just want the name brand. The real coke. The Tillamook cheese. The Nestle chocolate chips. Corporations love us for this. And the ultimate success for advertisers is having us call products by their brand name -- Qtips, Jello, Kleenex. These names are embedded in our minds and our culture.
I was making fudge this week and realizing how many of my recipes are brand filled. Remember the old Fantasy Fudge recipe on the back of Kraft marshmallow cream jar? That's where I started when I was about 12. It took me years to realize that marshmallows were cheaper than marshmallow cream, and that the only reason to use evaporated milk was to include another branded product in the recipe. It's not even as good as light cream.
Next time you're following a recipe, take a good look at the ingredients. Are they there because they're the best option for a quality product, or because they get you to buy more of a particular company's products? Campbell's cream soups are everywhere. It's so easy to thicken some broth and saute some fresh mushrooms, but doing that doesn't sell soup.
Caving in to brand pressure is part of what makes our diets so nutrient poor. If a corporation has handled your food, it's certainly not in its natural state, and it most likely has added sugar, fat, salt, preservatives, and/or artificial colors. If we think a little more about our food and the extreme power of corporate advertising, we'll likely make better, healthier, less expensive choices.
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup light cream or half & half
3 cups sugar
1/2 pound marshmallows
3/4 pound good quality semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook and stir butter, cream, and sugar until mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling over medium heat for 5 minutes, or to soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, then chocolate. Add vanilla last and mix thoroughly. Pour into buttered 9x13" baking pan. Cool completely before cutting.
Add other extracts, nuts, dried fruit, etc., with the vanilla, if desired.
The brand map below shows the seven corporations that own most of our food brands. Want to boycott Nestle like I do? Get ready to give up Skinny Cow ice cream and Beneful dog food and power bars and L'Oreal shampoo. Ouch.