Hungry Gamer? Buy Somethin' Will Ya?

>> Tuesday, August 24, 2010

gamer grubImage by pinguino via Flickr
Having grown up with a love of video games and also having a love for Real Food, I felt a bit insulted when I came across a new snack being aimed at game players everywhere. It's called Gamer Grub and it's essentially cheap sugars and carbohydrates in a convenient but wasteful package.

Game players everywhere seem to have it rough when it comes to how industry sees their nutritional needs. It reminds me of what the movie and advertising industries originally thought the "gamer look" was: you've probably seen it. The disconnected stare with a mix of both determination and a dorky smile. Now, when it comes to what a gamer eats or drinks, it has to be some concoction of Instant Satisfaction and Ultimate Power. Seriously, I think energy drinks came about solely from the rise of the gaming industry.  At least some of them have; I recall the introduction of "Bawls" and how it was targeted at the late-night gamer. It even had a kind of cameo appearance in the Playstation 2 games, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and Run Like Hell.

Back to the topic at hand, Gamer Grub is supposedly a snack invented to keep up with the busy nerd. As the founder of Gamer Grub reportedly says, "15 browser tabs, 11 apps, voice chat and two games running. We couldn't find a snack that could keep up… so, we made our own." Apparently the whole idea about eating while playing games is that nothing is supposed to distract you from moving your butt away from the computer or console, even hunger. They used "science" in their recipes to deliver "essential vitamins and neurotransmitters" to help you achieve this oneness with the couch.

This is just crazy. A load of synthetic vitamins is not going to improve any snack, let alone one as processed as this. And isn't advertising that L-Glutamic Acid as a mental booster a rather stupid idea considering that glutamic acid has been implicated in epileptic seizures? Isn't it - correct me if I'm wrong - an especially stupid idea considering that L-Glutamic Acid is, in other words, MSG, a known excitotoxin?

To continue a disappointing trend, Gamer Grub does not list the nutrition facts on their website - okay, actually they do, but they don't list the ingredients, which in my opinion are at least as important. It seems to me that any time a company doesn't list the ingredients of their food products on their website... they have something to hide. Fortunately with a little digging I found that ThinkGeek shows the ingredient list of two of the Gamer Grub flavors.  And there's a lot they're hiding.
Pizza ingredients: (compound ingredients are on individual lines)
  • Sesame sticks: (Unbleached wheat flour (contains malted barley flour as a natural enzyme additive), canola oil, sesame seeds, bulgar wheat, salt, beet powder, turmeric) 
  • cheese curls: (Corn flour, salt, citric acid, soybean oil, whey, natural cheese flavor, salt, natural and artificial flavors, buttermilk powder, monosodium glutamate, lactose, autolyzed torula yeast, maltodextrin, caramel color, yeast extract, disodium inosinate & guanylate, lactic acid, tumeric (color)), 
  • almonds, 
  • pita chips: (Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, ascorbic acid, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), canola oil, water, salt, yeast), 
  • cashews, 
  • fried onions: (Onions, safflower and/or sunflower oil, enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt), 
  • sun dried tomato and basil seasoning: (Sugar, tomato & sun dried tomato powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, spices, parsley, citric acid, natural flavors, paprika extract, dextrose), 
  • pizza seasoning: (Tomato powder, garlic powder, sugar, natural flavors, spices, salt, paprika), 
  • cheese seasoning: (Whey, parmesan and romano cheese blend (part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), 
  • maltodextrin, butter-milk powder, salt, sodium phosphate, citric acid, onion powder, garlic powder, dehydrated cream, disodium inosinate and guanylate, disodium phosphate, natural flavor, 
  • vegetable oil (peanut, canola, sunflower and/or soybean)), 
  • proprietary cognitive blend: (Magnesium phosphate dibasic, choline bitartrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin e acetate, l-glutamic acid, beta-carotene, and niacinamide). 
Contains: Almonds, cashews, wheat, milk and soy. Packed on shared equipment with other tree nuts and eggs. Caution: May contain an occasional shell fragment.

What are they hiding? Canola oil. Salt. Corn flour (unless specified, assume corn is genetically modified). Soybean oil. Artificial flavors. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Yeast extract (more MSG). Enriched flours (flours should not be enriched with synthetic replacements). Vegetable oils. Sugar. Lactose (more sugar). Dextrose (more sugar). Skim milk. l-glutamic acid (more MSG)... this list goes on and on - and gets worse if you look at the Peanut Butter/Jelly flavor; it's more of the same plus other things such as hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, and preservatives. I think their "science" must be related to the theory of pulling the wool over peoples' eyes.

It seems all the reviews of Gamer Grub come back generally mixed but positive; the reviewer tends to say, "I don't really like THIS flavor but THAT flavor is awesome and I would totally buy more." Fortunately, judging by user comments such as those found on this review prove that end users MOSTLY find this new "performance snack" to be a bad-tasting joke.  Pun intended.
This article is part of Real Food Wednesday via
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Psychic Lunch was founded in 2009 by a nerd and father who wants people to be healthy. The information on this site is researched, but should be considered opinion; that is, you should always do your own research and come to your own conclusions about what is and what is not healthy. Products endorsed on this site are actually believed in and used by the author.


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