February 01, 2005

Well, technically.

Fact: the phrase "non-dairy creamer" is a misnomer.

I just read the ingredient list on the back of a packet of instant Thai iced tea that someone brought into the office today, and it could be summarized as follows: tea, non-dairy creamer, sugar, color, flavor. My heart leaped. Could I actually have some? Could I be so lucky? When I read closer I noticed that the ingredients in the non-dairy creamer were palm kernel oil, glucose, and casein. Casein? I've run across that before. It's a milk protein that unscrupulous people put in soy cheese to make it temptingly tasty and frustratingly unvegan.

I looked it up. The official word of the food manufacturers is that casein is not a dairy product... anymore. It's made from skim milk which is heavily processed and refined so that there's no lactose, cholesterol or milkfat remaining in it. It's a nice technicality, and I like the humor value of saying, "Well, we took some milk and took out all the milky bits," but I still have to mark it down as misleading.

Shame about the iced tea, then. I'm just in the mood for some sickly-sweet overprocessed instant food imported from a strange and exotic place, but I'll have another cup of plain green tea instead.

Posted by dianna at February 1, 2005 11:12 AM

Casein is also in Smart Balance, which prevents it from being the vegan butter substitute I initially thought it to be upon purchase. You have to get Earth Balance instead, and to do that, you have to go somewhere besides the mega-Safeway in my neighborhood.

Keeping that in non-dariy creamer seems a little bit like putting ivory buttons on an imitation leather coat.

Posted by: sean at February 1, 2005 03:50 PM

Also, if you buy Smart Balance and use it in anything where it has to melt, your house starts to smell really strongly like artificial butter flavor. That could be a benefit if you wanted to open a movie theater in your living room, although if you're opening a movie theater I think you should use Earth Balance so I can have your popcorn. If you serve it buttered and salted with ice-cold chocolate chips mixed in, I'll be a weekly customer.

Posted by: Dianna at February 1, 2005 04:03 PM

By buttered, of course, I mean Earth Balanced. As the theater owner, you also have to be able to read my mind.

Posted by: Dianna at February 1, 2005 04:04 PM

Popcorn with chocolate chips?

Posted by: Arianna at February 1, 2005 04:57 PM

The first brand of non-dairy creamer I encountered labelled itself an "edible oil product". I guess that's accentuating the positive, maybe they were worried that people wouldn't want to eat a NON-food. I was very disappointed when I found out (several years later) that "edible oil" means "palm kernel oil", not some exotic alchemical distillation of crude oil. Petroleum, lubricants, plastics, and dairy substitutes... is there anything the black gold isn't good for?

Posted by: Andrew at February 1, 2005 05:03 PM

A slightly off topic question: Would a Venus Flytrap sandwich be vegan? Assuming it was made with Earth Balance buttered bread, of course.

Posted by: Andrew at February 1, 2005 05:06 PM

another vegan question for you: are all chocolate chips vegan, or do you need a certain brand? obviously, excluding milk chocolate chips.

Posted by: marina at February 1, 2005 05:36 PM

Well, the ideal situation is actually popcorn with M&Ms, but I've yet to find a vegan M&M-type candy. Chocolate chips substitute well in a pinch. The popcorn has to be really, really buttery and salty, though, and the chocolate chips have to be tossed in so that they get coated with salty butter. Oh heaven.

*snort* A Venus Flytrap sandwich? First of all, I'd probably put hummus on it instead of a butter substitute. Second, I'm scared of eating anything that could probably digest me from inside out. Third, screw the dead flies in it, I'm worried about the bit where I stand around with the sandwich in my hand (wondering if it's okay to eat, of course) and it up and eats my fingers. I'm not touching that!

I will, however, touch chocolate chips. Yum. Not all brands are vegan; I think Ghirardelli chips, for instance, have milk powder or whey in them. Guittard chips are vegan, Safeway has a fancy-silver-package store variety that's vegan (and really goddamn tasty), and then there are the super-fancy fruit-sweetened hippie-ass made-on-dairy-free-equipment kinds, but with those you run the risk of getting carob by accident. Ech.

Posted by: Dianna at February 1, 2005 06:08 PM

popcorn with junior mints in it is deelicioso, but junior mints have gelatin and that equals horse hooves. it's a goddamn internal crisis every time i go to the theater.

Posted by: erica at February 1, 2005 09:11 PM

i don't suppose there's any chance in hell that reese's pieces are vegan. because those would be so good in the buttery salty popcorn thing.

or we could just all eat vegan donuts until we barf. i'm eating the cinnamon one right now. sooooo good.

Posted by: katie at February 1, 2005 10:01 PM

Junior Mints. Reese's Pieces. Guys, stop it. I'm drooling on myself.

Reese's Pieces have milk in them, which doesn't surprise me because most peanut butter chips (hell, all peanut butter chips I've been able to find) have milk in them. Peanuts do not come from cows. There is no logic in this.

Posted by: Dianna at February 1, 2005 10:18 PM

peanuts are loved by monkeys and elephants. they both have big ears. mice also have big ears. mice love cheese. cheese comes from milk.

peanut butter = milk. i should have seen the connection before.

Posted by: katie at February 2, 2005 02:05 PM

YOU are loved by monkeys and elephants!

Posted by: Dianna at February 2, 2005 02:17 PM

listen, chimpypants, there's no call for that sort of thing.

Posted by: katie at February 2, 2005 02:52 PM

ooh, wait, i just figured out the junior mints problem too.

gelatin is made from horse hooves. when i was a junior girl scout, i went to camp lakota. there were horses (hooves included). i also sold thin mints.

junior+mints=horse hooves.

Posted by: katie at February 2, 2005 02:54 PM

Senorita Chimpita, are you sure you went to Camp Lakota in junior girl scouts? Were you even a junior girl scout? I thought you dropped out before that.

Speaking of Camp Lakota, I've been kicking myself for a couple of years for not keeping all my bright yellow shirts that said Camp Lakota 1986 and 1987 and so on. The ironic hipster t-shirt possibilities I'm missing out on here! Sheesh!

Posted by: Dianna at February 2, 2005 03:00 PM

chimpy mcchimperson, i was indeed a junior girl scout. where else would i have gotten all those badges for essential survival skills like playing othello and having a sock hop? i think i was even a cadet for a few weeks, until i realized that was it was, was bunk.

yeah, i wish i still had the pink glittery girl scout t-shirt i used to wear all the time until i became embarassed by it. i would rock that thing now.

Posted by: katie at February 2, 2005 03:58 PM

pardon the unintended gertrude stein effect in that last comment. sentence should read: i realized that what it was, was kind of hooey.

Posted by: katie at February 2, 2005 04:02 PM

It's so sad that you have to go through embarrassed before you get to delighted. It's also so sad that you occasionally take leave of your senses and think things like, "I'll never wear my grandmother's golf t-shirt, because lord knows I hate really soft shirts with really big collars, so I think I'll freepile it." God. Dumb. At least I had the sense to keep the shirt with the animals in ties, though. Did you know it still fits me?

Posted by: Dianna at February 2, 2005 04:04 PM

for a given value of "fits"...

there's about eight inches between it and your pants, right?

Posted by: katie at February 2, 2005 05:07 PM

Indubitably. I think it shows more of my stomach than my short skirts show of my legs. But, significantly, it's still loose in the width. This is because I've chosen to grow exclusively in the vertical direction and specifically eschew the creation of breasts. What? Yes, of course it's a conscious decision. What a ridiculous question.

Posted by: Dianna at February 2, 2005 06:43 PM