Peter York On Ads: A corny ad for a baked tile - pass the Pringles

RYVITA

British food remains practically the worst in the universe. That's what Joanna Blythman's saying in her new book Bad Food Britain: How A Nation Ruined Its Appetite. Of course she's talking about what people actually eat at scale, not what Fay and Henrietta, Giles and Adrian write about, or what we get in the lovely Lidgate/Felicitous/Fromagerie world of Big London. She's on about industrial food, made in Liverpool or Swansea factories. Stuff from a conveyor with an interestingly long sell-by tolerance.

She means the groaning aisles of crisps and paracrisps in any big supermarket. And the acres of bulk sweets and chocolates in Woolworths. We're Europe's crisp champions by a mile - we eat more than the rest of Europe put together. The sweets contribute to another UK achievement - particularly in the Celtic fringe - we're top of the European edentulous league table with more toothless lads and lasses than anywhere. And then there's our world-beating rates of heart disease, with its contributory levels of obesity - we're Europe's fattest and challenging the next generation of Americans for the World Series.

The particular pleasure in all this, of course, is that we know it's all down to Vicky Pollard and the chavtastic world of the huge heaving underclass. The Mob; Hogarthians in hoodies. Shameless people who've never cooked with extra-virgin, never eaten one, let alone five, helpings of fruit and vegetables a day.

That's me. I've eaten festering industrial food for so long its amazing I'm alive. From the moment I could choose I went for anything with a melted cheese topping, or a strong blast of MSG (Killer Salt always was my favourite food). Kraft's glorious orange cheese slices were so obviously better than mature cheddar cut off a wheel. Tinned Chicken Supreme in white sauce poured over white rice never needed vegetables. While my friends argued for authentic everything, I followed each successive wave of fast food out and convenience stuff at home. Time was I lived on those tasty Marks and Spencer briquettes, 20 kinds of chicken in sauce with two veg, one of them pure carbo. All this while reading generations of middle-class food propaganda, eating concept-on-a-plate in new restaurants for 25 years and listening to my foodie friends (Foodies eat in a very particular grazing kind of way - "try this, I got it from a woman just outside Lyme Regis - she's 85. Does it all on a Calor Gas ring").

I'm price-sensitive too. I'll have the cheaper one thank you. Organic versus ordinary - it costs more than twice as much (and what if I'd got four children?). "Hand-made food" is incredibly expensive and potentially rather disgusting. You want a nice stainless-steel robot doing all that.

For every scare there's another explanation and - in every dream home a heartache - precisely the smart people who avoid convenient industrial white bread adore the free-form Art Bread in any restaurant with pretentions. Dip it in oil, ladle it with unsalted Normandy butter, and gloriously unpasteurised cheese and you've got pretty much the same high cholesterol, free carb' sort of mix you'd get with several tubes of Pringles.

I never know where all this leaves Ryvita. On the face of it Ryvita's a sort of saint. It's made from rye - one up from wheat they say. And it's wholegrain. So it's a high Glycaemic Index, slow release, complex calorie story. And yet - except for the multi-grain version - it's rather charmless. How's it made? They say they just add lovely salt and then bake it to bits, like a tile. (But what does the baking do? The Great Industrial Baking Scare said everything cooked at these massive temperatures is ultra-carcinogenic.) And it's creepy that it seems to last for ever.

Now Ryvita's moving towards silly-sounding brand extensions like the Goodness Bar. They're avoiding making an uncluttered simplicity and ingredients claim - I would've thought they had a bit of a competitive advantage there - in favour of an awful heavy-handed Rocky Horror Show Gothic kind of commercial I haven't seen for 20 years - long fingernails, women begging "spare me master", the whole corny lot. Buried in there are some claims - 62 calories, 3 per cent fat, no sugar - sounding so weaselly you want to trace every grain. They'd have been miles better off with a farmers' market.

Peter@sru.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
people
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Web Developer / Front End Web Developer

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Front End Web Developer (PHP ...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment