What do a cup of coffee and cockroach pheromone have in common? How is Fix-A-Flat like sugarless gum? Is a Slim Jim meat stick really alive? If I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter isn’t butter, what is it?
All of these pressing questions and more are answered in This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? Based on his popular Wired magazine column What’s Inside, Patrick Di Justo takes a cold, hard, and incredibly funny look at the shocking, disgusting, and often dumbfounding ingredients found in everyday products, from Cool Whip and Tide Pods to Spam and Play-Doh. He also shares the madcap stories of his extensive research, including tracking down a reclusive condiment heir, partnering with a cop to get his hands on heroin, and getting tight-lipped snack-food execs to talk. Along the way, he schools us on product histories, label decoding, and the highfalutin chemistry concepts behind everything from Midol to Hostess fruit pies.
Packed with facts you’re going to want to share immediately, this is infotainment at its best—and most fun!—which will have you giving your shampoo the side-eye and Doritos a double take, and make you the know-it-all in line at the grocery store.
Having already eliminated a vast array of food ingredients from my household, I read this book with great trepidation. Really, I was scared. It is hard enough to buy any edible product without encountering high fructose corn syrup or sucralose. However, Patrick Di Justo did not write this book to scare us away from more food. This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth is an entertaining look into the ingredient lists of very popular food and non-food products. It is a sort of “How it’s Made,” in book form.
Author Patrick Di Justo tackled some of my all time favorites during my teenage years in this book. As I read all about the ingredients of Cool Whip, Easy Cheese, and Hot Pockets, I decided I should feel fortunate that I am still alive. Not just because I ate them, but because of the large volume of my consumption. From the “embalmed cheese” in a can of Easy Cheese to the synthetic wax in Cool Whip (Sorbitan MonoStearate) I am certain when my time comes I will be wax museum material. I cannot even tell you how many after school snacks consisted of a plate of Ritz Crackers topped with Easy Cheese. What were my parents thinking??
There are two things I enjoyed most about this book. The first is the description of Purina Alpo Chop House Beef Tenderloin Flavor in Gourmet Gravy. I couldn’t help but laugh when I realized what snobs we have become in regards to dog food. I have seen many dogs eat their own vomit or worse, the afterbirth of a cow. (I am sorry if you are reading this and eating) BUT heaven forbid our beloved animals eat anything other than the best “poultry” money can buy. This section had me in stitches. Secondly, the back story given at the end of most products is so very interesting. They were my favorite parts of this book.
For me personally, this is a five-star book for its fun approach to food and the hilarious stories behind the authors discoveries. This book has been picked up and read by everyone in my household who is old enough to enjoy it.
PATRICK DI JUSTO wrote the popular Wired magazine column What’s Inside and is an editor at Make: magazine. A contributor to The New Yorker’s science blog, Elements, he also writes for The Atlantic, Popular Science, and Dwell, among others.
You can follow Patrick Di Justo on Twitter here.
I was given a complimentary copy of This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth by Blogging for Books. I was not required to give a positive review and I have not been compensated in any way.