So, Lays has changed the packaging of their olestra-containing potato chips.
Formerly “WOW!”, the new chips are Lay’s Light.
Even with my previous interest in olestra and Olean1 I didn’t recognize the product. I picked up the bag and took a closer look. I put it back down. It wasn’t until a second look that I realized it must have Olean in it. Sure enough, down near the bottom crimp, there is the olean symbol. The warning about loose stools is gone. Olestra has moved on to the next phase as a more invisible ingredient in the food supply.
I don’t have any specific beef with olestra. I am not an anti-olestra fanatic.2 But I do find it interesting and slightly alarming how ingredients come out of (seemingly) nowhere and creep toward ubiquity. As consumers, we have to pay close attention to ingredients, because (clearly) the food industry is trying to make it harder. If this packaging switch made me look twice, it is probably going to be effective with people looking to lose weight and also looking for a snack.
1 When olestra first hit the market back in the 90’s, I had a website poking fun at Procter & Gamble’s fake fat product which allegedly caused loose bowels and vitamin deficiency. It attracted the interest of P&G who went as far as to offer me a trip to their headquarters to talk to their scientists. I declined. I wasn’t really an anti-olestra activist; I just thought the stuff was funny. Nonetheless, Adbusters awarded me with 6 free issues for my anti-corporate efforts. Go figure.
2 I updated this statement because, although I am not an anti-olestra activist, I guess I do have a beef with the ingredient. I can’t say I’m really thrilled with an additive that loosens your bowels and depletes vitamins. But so far it appears to be well within the boundaries of edibility.