Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Coffee? Tea? Retronym?

No, really, it's real!

Dueling retronyms today: Land O Lakes offers Traditional Half and Half, while Harris Teeter sells Original Half and Half. Both, of course, mean half-and-half, as opposed to something they call fat-free half-and-half.

As the helpful folks at Harris Teeter point out, half-and-half is made with real milk and cream. To be precise, half-and-half is milk and cream. Half of each. What, then, would fat-free half-and-half be? It would be the same thing as fat-free heavy cream or fat-free light cream or fat-free whole milk or fat-free "2 percent" or "1 percent" milk: It would be skim milk. Of course, the dairies aren't selling skim milk and calling it fat-free half-and-half. They're selling a chemical potion formulated to look and taste like half-and-half, but with a fat content low enough to meet the federal guidelines for a "fat-free" label.

Another blogger explored the ingredients list on a carton of "fat-free half-and-half." I'll leave Eric Schlosser and company to address those horrors (and the fact that even the "traditional" and "original" products include disodium phosphate, sodium citrate and sometimes carrageenan). Meanwhile, I'll suggest that Land O Lakes and Harris Teeter and the others offer me a choice between half-and-half that requires no elaboration and "artificially flavored coffee creamer."

16 comments:

Adam Vandenberg said...

I bought fat-free Half and Half as an experiment once.

Experiment failed!

Or maybe it was "reduced fat", but it was a Land O'Lakes product, and it was terrible.

Third Reading said...

I didn't know that traditional half and half was ultra-pastuerized.

LFelaco said...

I never understood Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, either. If you take out the caffeine and the sugar, what the heck is left besides colored water?

Meredith said...

Ahhh, but artificially flavored creamer doesn't sound so mathematical!

Was that a fragment, or just an interjection?

I am far too nervous posting a comment on your blog for fear of grammatically erring.

Bill said...

A grammatical error in the comments? I guess it's theoretically possible -- there's a first time for everything!

Girl with the Interesting Hair said...

This is why I take my coffee black.

But here's a question -- when did skim milk become fat-free milk? No one on the West Coast seems to call it skim.

Bill said...

The FDA apparently authorized the "fat-free" designation several years back, and the industry ran with it (but "skim" is still fine, too):

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/1998/198_milk.html

Len said...

Since it's not really half-and-half, maybe it should be called three-eighths-and-five-eighths instead.

alisonjane said...

Nobody's going to take the side of poor, depressed fat-free half-and-half?

Okay. I've used it. I've used it in coffee, and I've also used small amounts of it in recipes for low-fat soups, in which it imparts a texture that becomes weird when the soup is chilled, but actually does help it be a bit creamier when hot.

I've never found it objectionable, but I do understand the reluctance to call it half-and-half. I will say this: I have found it INFINITELY less disgusting than fat-free "cheese" of almost any kind.

rfs1962 said...

Agreed on the fat-free cheese. I bought fat-free Fig Newtons once. Instead of fat, there's a bizarre chemical aftertaste.

Carolyn Price said...

Why would anyone want to use anything less than real milk or real cream in their coffee - fat-free or not? What does Half & Half bring to the party that the real thing doesn't? It's just a nasty little conglomeration of dairy products and chemicals anyway.

Bill said...

Half-and-half is half milk and half cream; my whole point is that the fat-free chemical soup is not half-and-half at all. People use the real stuff if they want a certain degree of creaminess -- but not as much creaminess, or fat, as light cream or full cream. I'm about to use some in my coffee right now.

Linda said...

Yeah, I don't use the "fat-free chemical soup" anymore. I'm just saying, I've used it, and I didn't think it was bad. It was just a way to lighten coffee and get some of the benefit and save a few calories and a few grams of fat. It has its uses. And as for being "chemical soup," it is, but a lot of it, in fairness, is milk.

I officially have paid too much attention to this pressing issue and need to get back to obsessively recapping "Big Brother: All-Stars"

Dennis Valdes said...

Isn't anyone interested in the "ultra-pasteurized" label? What does THAT mean? Can milk (or half-and-half) be pasteurized more than once or is that just more fancy marketing-speak?

HighHardOne said...

OK, I'll confess: I don't read the label on everything I consume. I used fat-free half-and-half for a while, assuming it was skim milk with good old-fashioned "nonfat milk solids," i.e., powdered milk, added as a thickening agent. (This is a technique that's long been recommended by nutritionists for thickening milk-based soups without adding fat.) The chemicals I don't know about, but, eh, better living through chemistry, I always say.

Side note: This discussion reminded me of one of the dirtiest (and best) band names I ever saw: The Non-Dairy Creamers.

Suzy said...

Ultra-pasteurized means that it has been pasteurized at a higher than normal temperature, giving it a longer shelf life. If it is packaged aseptically (like juice boxes or soy milk, in those sealed cartons) and labeled UHT, it will not need refrigeration until it is opened. Great for camping!