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We're all cynical grown-ups here. We know that the food we buy at the grocery store isn't made by a kindly old man on a farm.

But still, we like to think that what comes in the package bears at least some vague resemblance to what's on the label. Instead, a little bit of digging reveals downright soylent green-like horrors.

6
"Crab Meat"

Long ago, man decided that the delicate, tasty flesh of bottom dwelling sea bugs was a luxury item and we should all be so lucky to eat it--even if the animal itself had been feeding off of discarded boots and laserdisc porn sunk to the bottom of the sea. For this reason, crab continues to be a delicacy that costs a fuckton more than, say, the pulverized, rubbery remains of a bunch of random fish.


I'm lovin' it.

But if crab is so expensive, how are grocery stores and restaurants able to sell crab dips and crab cakes so inexpensively? Welcome to the world of imitation crab meat, an ingredient you find almost everywhere cheap seafood is sold (including Long John Silver's).

See, lucky for the cheap and not particularly discerning amongst us, the pulverized, rubbery remains of a bunch of random fish can be easily injection-molded into damn near any seafood product under the sun and labeled surimi, right under where it pretends to be crab meat at your local grocery store.


Some are better disguised than others.

As this video with an upbeat, 80s work safety soundtrack demonstrates, real fish is minced and put through a series of progressively more horrifying and offputting challenges, like a traveler being lowered through the depths of seafood hell, until finally it doesn't resemble anything like a fish anymore so much as a slurry of lumpy, white awfulness ready to be extruded into whatever delicious product needs extruding.

Then, as this helpful guide explains, the resulting white fish paste is frozen, shaved into flakes, ground in a vat with starch, egg whites and flavorings to make it taste crab-like, then cooked and finally formed into a "rope" where orange die is painted on to give it that nice crab appearance.

Oh, and that red dye is usually made from crushed insects.

It Could be Worse...

Be careful when you're abroad and picking up a nice bottle of vodka to have with your imitation crab. Bootleg vodka production is rampant the world over and bottles that look completely legit on the shelf have huge amounts of methanol, which is a kind of alcohol, true, but it's the kind that's used as race car fuel and antifreeze.

5
Sliced Cheese That Isn't Cheese

Most of you have likely never made your own cheese, at least not on purpose. But you probably have a general idea of how it's made. Something to do with milk, right? And they let it age or whatever? One way or another, a cow is involved, isn't it?

And sure enough if you look at people who sell actual cheese you find on their ingredients all sorts of words like "milk" and "milkfat" and "cheese cultures."

But sitting right in the same aisle with the actual cheese you'll see a package like this:

Note the careful omission of the word "cheese" from the package of "American slices" up there. These "pasteurized processed sandwich slices" are to cheese what a hobo is to, you know, someone with a home. The way the supplier's website puts it, the product "...resembles a Processed American Cheese in certain food applications."


You know, in the right light, post-it notes kind of look like cheese too!

"Resembles" in "certain food applications"? Holy shit! They actually said that! By the way, we're pretty sure "certain food applications" means "sitting on the shelf next to actual cheese to fool poor people." Take a look at the ingredients, and after the first one you'll pretty much be lost:

"Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Food Starch, Casein and/or Caseinate, Whey, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Natural Flavor..."

Since the "natural flavor" ingredient is missing from the real cheese, that apparently means "chemical that makes it taste like cheese."


Incredibly, this means that there is something less like cheese than Easy Cheese.

By the way, this isn't just an American thing. Dutch news reports found out that up to 40 percent of the "cheese" on their shelves is actually this cheese-like mixture of oil, starch and milk protein.

It Could be Worse...

While the cheese on your pizza may be fake, at least there isn't sand in the crust.


Pizza dough has never been so sexy.

Not so in parts of Africa, where flour from markets is routinely cut with things like alum, chalk, Plaster of Paris and mashed potatoes.

Wait, mashed potatoes? That's got to be more expensive than the flour. They're clearly just doing it to fuck with people.

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4
Popcorn Butter

Few things really capture the heart and soul of the movie theater experience like a stranger getting a handjob in the seat behind you. In the same ballpark is movie theater popcorn. It's an iconic snack associated with the film-going experience and, when Junior Mints are not available, it's the next best thing to buy at a 900 percent markup to keep your hands and mouth busy for the next two hours, provided you're not in that handjob crowd.


"Excuse me folks, could you keep your handjobbing to a dull roar, please? People are trying to enjoy G-Force."

Since theaters make the majority of their profits off the concession stand, it's no wonder they need to keep costs down as much as possible, which is why most employees seem to have flies buzzing around their heads, and it's also why butter was long ago sacrificed to the gods of cheapassery.

Lately, most places have taken to calling what they put on popcorn "topping" after word got out that butter hadn't seen the inside of a theater since Citizen Kane. The popcorn is often popped in coconut oil and then bathed in hydrogenated soy bean oil, much the way we imagine Ron Jeremy starts a work day.

The new mixture, while packing all that delicious butter flavor, also packs your arteries with heart stopping awfulness, so the cost benefit analysis worked more in favor of the theaters than you, supposing you were planning on staving off a heart attack. A large popcorn with this pseudo-butter has as much saturated fat as eight Big Macs.


The blue areas are scientifically referred to as "fat pockets."

It Could be Worse...

If you eat too much microwave popcorn, you can wind up in the hospital with popcorn lung. That's right, the popcorn spilled out of his stomach and filled his lungs.


That popcorn is actually coming out.

Ha, no, just kidding. The truth is much weirder. The "totally not butter" flavoring in microwave popcorn contains the chemical diacetyl, which creates poisonous fumes that can almost fucking kill you if you breathe too much of it.

The effects are mostly seen in popcorn factory workers. In fairness, the man who got it from eating popcorn was eating two bags of microwave popcorn a day, so it seemed inevitable some debilitating illness finally caught up with him.

3
Maple "Syrup"

Long ago, when Canada mattered, it provided the world with a nearly endless supply of beaver puns and maple syrup. Lumberjacks and mounties had their fill of both and the rest of the world was green with envy. Nowadays the syrup industry has been quietly hijacked by terrorists like Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth and their crew of maple fakers who can't be bothered to suck sweet, sticky goo out of trees (that sentence is so ripe with innuendo we refuse to even exploit it).


Speaking of exploitation...

Oh, they would like to still convey the image of a down-home operation involving buckets tied to tree trunks to catch the syrup that oozes out. They may even sneak some trees onto the label.

But what's in it? Most brands are just water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and various chemicals. Yeah, you could pretty much make the shit yourself in about five minutes. Though at least the log cabin people have switched from high-fructose corn syrup to actual sugar.


"First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women."

A company in Quebec, where this impostor syrup bullshit is still taken seriously, stirred up some trouble earlier in the year when they started selling fake syrup in containers nearly identical to the ones that contain actual maple syrup, confusing the easily muddled syrup buying populace into purchasing the wrong thing. That is, the thing most people thought they were getting this whole time.

It Could be Worse...

Last year, news outlets in China claimed that street vendors selling pork dumplings were actually stuffing them with wet cardboard flavored with pork juice, just like mom used to pack for lunches after a particularly rough bender.

After the news hit, the Chinese government was quick to say the entire story was false and the reporter who had uncovered it all on hidden camera was arrested for making a up such a damaging and lie-filled tale about a country that would never allow such chicanery to occur. Shortly thereafter they made children's Tylenol out of asbestos and then oppressed a few million peasants for no reason.

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2
Ginseng

Ever since energy drinks that taste like a mixture of Mountain Dew and ball sweat hit the ground running, much of the western world has been taken with herbal energy boosters, things like yohimbe, guarana and ginseng, because you can never convince an idiot that something is dangerous if it's "natural," no matter how much blood leaks from their ass after eating Hemlock salad.


"I bet all this blood in my stool is from that damn pasteurized milk."

The thing about herbal supplements, however, is that they're not regulated by the FDA, and the ingredients don't have to pass any kind of inspection for quality. It could be anything in there. It could be sawdust. It could be ground up issues of Bulgarian porno mags. And it often is.


What a waste.

Maybe not the Bulgarian porn, but according to one study in Britain of 50 different supplements sold, six didn't even have ginseng in them and one even had ephedrine, apparently because the makers wanted to scam their customers but still wanted them to have an accelerated heart rate and a chance at death.

Hey, a placebo is a placebo, right?

It Could be Worse...

Depending on where you stand on the issue, this may not be worse, but some herbal medications out of (guess where) China, reportedly for weight loss, apparently contain more than the expected amount of sildenafil. More being any at all, as sildenafil is the generic name for Viagra and arguably while humping your way to a slimmer waist line is a potential way to get results, the product probably wasn't advertised that way.

Of course the bigger question is, why wasn't it?

1
Strawberry Flavoring

Making something taste like strawberries seems like a bit of a no-brainer. Now, most of us aren't naive enough to think that the Nesquik Bunny is squeezing fresh strawberries into every batch of powder. But, you know, you get some dehydrated strawberries or even the parts of strawberries other people didn't want to eat. Hell, even ground up strawberry stems wouldn't shock our jaded imagination.

But knowing big business as you do, you should not be surprised to learn they refuse to do things the old fashioned way. Strawberry flavor not only doesn't involve fresh strawberries, it doesn't involve anything that's even been in the same room as a strawberry.

In fact, strawberry flavoring (like the kind you get in fast food milkshakes) is a mix of about 50 separate chemicals and none of them have berry in the name. They include:

Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

But it does have orris butter, the most delicious butter you can squeeze from an orris, whatever the fuck that is.


This is an orris known for its butter production, apparently.

On the plus side, amongst the many ingredients found in your strawberry flavoring are things like diacetyl. Hey, remember that one? That was the stuff that made the popcorn guy sick.

It Could be Worse...

If strawberry's not your flavor and you're more into spice, you could try to add a bit of curry powder to add an Indian flair, the only downside being that occasionally Indian spices are doctored with substances like lead chromate--which improves color--to sawdust to make it bulkier or actual dried cow shit, which if it improves anything really speaks poorly for the quality of the spice to begin with.


"And some powdered cow shit for the lady?"

Oh, and do you like wasabi, that exotic spicy green Japanese paste you can get with sushi? Well, you've likely never had it. The vast majority of wasabi is just regular old horse radish mixed with green food coloring.

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For more disturbing facts about the food you love, check out 5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today. Or find about some some food lies fed to you from the Internet 7 Retarded Food Myths the Internet Thinks Are True.

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