Gut Feelings
by Dan Malovany
Since it is the holiday season and I’m feeling generous, I’m giving our loyal readers not one, not two, but three columns for the price of one!
Woo hoo! Lucky you. Besides, it’s a great way to clean off my desk before the beginning of the New Year.
First, thank goodness the Year of the Carb is over. Yes, my gut feeling is that the carb craze peaked in February or March, and has slowly become as exciting as low cholesterol or low sodium.
Sure, many people are still mindful of their carbs, but it’s more selective than it was before. Although all of the hype burned a low-carb awareness into diet-conscious Americans, we’re not seeing the downright silliness that we saw last year at this time.
Although I anticipate the P.R. machine at Atkins to kick into high gear in early January as many consumers go on their annual post-holiday guilt trip, I don’t expect the Atkins or South Beach diet books will be the stocking stuffers that they were in the past.
In fact, the good news is that weekly sales of the South Beach diet book are about one-third of the 70,000 sold weekly during the height of the craze. The bad news for some bakers and snack producers is the glut of low-carb products out there that are just sitting on the shelf. Consumers don’t need 20 low-carb breads or reduced-carb snacks. They need just one, and it better taste good.
Simply put, the idea of breadless stuffing, flourless bread pudding or high-protein holiday cookies is just stupid, and like a lot of stupid ideas, it looks like it has just run its course as saner minds prevail.
Secondly, the number of Americans who are seriously overweight or obese remained steady at 62% for the second year in a row, according to The NPD Group. Some pundits applauded the report because the percentage didn’t increase, as it had done from 1996-2001. Truthfully, it’s really bad news because, well, consumers aren’t getting any thinner. Most Americans say they’re watching their fat intake, their calories and their carbs, and I know how they’re watching them. They’re watching them go into their mouths and all the way down into their big fat bellies. Consumers certainly are not counting their calories, and if they were, we’d have a nation of math wizards.
It’s certainly easy to add up why we’ve become 25 lbs. heavier and 1 in. taller over the last 40 years. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average man is 5 ft., 9 in. and weighs 191 lbs. The average woman is 5 ft., 4 in. and 164 lbs. That adds new meaning to larger than life.
The tragedy is that the number of overweight kids continues to skyrocket. In fact, the typical 10-year-old is 11 lbs. heavier than they were in the 1960s. The problem is that kids run around and play for only about 30 minutes a day as opposed to the recommended two hours daily by health experts.
Finally, under the premise that a picture is worth a thousand words, the photo accompanying this month’s column is living proof that your intrepid editor is literally riding the Republican bandwagon.
Well, it’s time to close the book on a very strange year. From all of us at Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine, have a happy and safe holiday season and a profitable 2005.