100-calorie snacks are everywhere – a full-on food marketing phenomenon. Clearly, they sell well (we’ve eaten them; you probably have, too), but should we be eating them?
We eat them because “100 calories” is a very attractive idea. But what if that’s the problem? Is there another reason other than “it’s just 100 calories” that we choose these?
After all, if there was value beyond the calorie count, a giant font “100 calories” taking up half the packaging would probably be unnecessary.
We decided to dig a little further, comparing a 100-calorie Oreo pack to one of TwoGrand’s most popular snacks – an apple with all-natural peanut butter.
The result? There’s a clear winner. But only if the right kind of “label” is applied…
Comparison #1: The Standard Nutrition Label Treatment
When viewed through the lens of traditional nutrition labels, it’s easy to see how 100-calorie packs win our hearts (and trick our minds).
The apple/PB gives you more of everything, including almost three times the calories and eight times the fat. More fiber and protein, too, but did anyone get past the calories and fat?
We’ve been trained to fixate on calories and fat, and this is what 100-calorie packs capitalize on.
The numbers breakdown above still doesn’t tell us anything about the value of these foods. Numbers without proper context rarely tell the right story.
Comparison # 2: The Ingredients
Add ingredients to the discussion, and the story changes rapidly. You know the sugary salt sprinkled on the cookies to simulate the creme filling? Makes you wonder what’s in it, doesn’t it…
Sure, The 100 Calorie Pack has 100 calories, but these 100 calories are made of 13 different ingredients. Not to mention additional sub-ingredients and the gamble of getting Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate. (Seriously? And/or?)
Comparison # 3: The Real Carbs Story
We instinctually run away from carbs at nearly the same rate we run away from calories. But just like fats, not all carbs are created equal, and our apple/PB vs. 100-calorie oreos once again illuminates why.
Natural Sugars found in apples and peanut butter get absorbed into the bloodstream over time, allowing the body to properly digest the nutrients and vitamins. You’re left with natural energy and you stay full longer.
In comparison, added sugars processed into 100-calorie packs are digested as empty carbs. You sometimes feel hungrier, and after a sugar spike is often an energy crash.
So what’s in a 100-calorie pack? Well, there’s 100 calories. The rest is hard to pronounce and harder to digest.
Unfortunately, our nutrition labels, and the marketers who deeply understand what causes us to buy 100-calorie packs, obscure the real value in foods. Or in this case, the lack thereof.
Yes, an apple with natural peanut butter has nearly 300 calories. But you can count the number of ingredients on two fingers, and eat the apple with the other three.
And if the 16g fat and 300 calories is really too much for you, split the snack in half and save the rest for later.
Now that’s real value.