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Teddy Grahams: Trans Fatty Snacks Disguised Behind a Healthy Image

Kraft Foods has made a special effort to portray Teddy Grahams as a healthy snack food, and their advertising deliberately targets children and parents. For all their hard work in the marketing department, though, Kraft has done very little to actually make Teddy Grahams healthy.

Teddy Grahams contain partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, a source of trans fat. Calorie for calorie, no other common nutrient is as dangerous to your health as trans fat. It causes coronary heart disease and has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer. Besides this killer, the main ingredients of Teddy Grahams are highly processed and nutritionally empty foods that can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Kraft dresses Teddy Grahams up with claims about wholesome goodness, suggesting that Teddy Grahams are a good everyday snack for children and parents, at home and at school. Such claims are bluff and bluster intended to disguise the dangers Teddy Grahams pose to your health and your children's health.

For their deceptive packaging and misleading health claims, Kraft Foods is currently facing a class action lawsuit in California.

(img) Teddy Grahams Honey Ingredients 2007Graham Flour vs Refined and Processed Ingredients

Despite the name, Teddy Grahams are not even real graham snacks.

In addition to trans fat, Teddy Grahams contain refined white flour, refined sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. All three have a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index are turned into simple sugars almost immediately after you eat them, creating a spike in blood sugar. Over time, habitual spikes in blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. Eventually, these foods raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Graham flour is a coarser, less refined alternative to heavily processed white flour. Because it includes the entire wheat grain, graham flour is higher in fiber and protein than white flour. It is also digested more slowly, avoiding the blood sugar spikes associated with more processed ingredients.

Unfortunately, while a reasonable consumer would expect a snack called "Teddy Grahams" to be a graham product, Teddy Grahams contain more highly refined white flour than graham flour. Kraft hides their unhealthy processed ingredients behind the healthier "graham" label.

Deceptive Packaging

Depending on the particular package, Teddy Grahams are labeled with any number of deceitful statements about health and nutrition.

One frequent tagline describes Teddy Grahams as a "wholesome choice for your family." This claim is false. The ingredients of Teddy Grahams, especially trans fat, can lead to coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Teddy Grahams are not in any way "wholesome."

Teddy Grahams also state, "a good source of calcium, iron, [and] zinc to help support kids' health and development." Calcium, iron, and zinc are all good, but these additions cannot reverse the unhealthy effects of trans fats and refined ingredients.

Ironically, when whole wheat grain is turned into refined white flour, it is stripped of its wheat germ, which contains calcium, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, and vitamin E. After stripping these fourteen nutrients out of the flour, Kraft acts proud to advertise that they put just three of those nutrients back in to the final cracker.

Targeting Families

Many of the deceptive health claims on Teddy Grahams packaging are carefully calculated to convince parents to buy these trans fat crackers for their families. Small children should never eat artificial trans fat, but Kraft Foods has developed elaborate advertising campaigns to make Teddy Grahams a staple snack food for kids.

Besides their "wholesome choice for your family" claim and the "support kids' health and development" line, Teddy Grahams are often sold in themed promotional boxes featuring popular children's television characters. Print advertisements encourage parents to play Teddy-Grahams-themed learning games with their children. The games may be great, but the Teddy Grahams themselves are a health hazard.

Kraft Foods must know parents prefer healthier snacks for their children, but rather than actually make healthier snacks, Kraft decided to push their unhealthy crackers as family health food.

(img) Smart Choices on Teddy Grahams Cinnamon 2009 packagingSmart Choices Program

Teddy Grahams used to feature the green check mark of the "Smart Choices" programs, an industry-funded initiative created by the nation's largest food companies. Health experts have called the criteria for the Smart Choices approval "seriously flawed" and "not credible," and the Smart Choices check mark has appeared on Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, mayonnaise, and Fudgesicles.

The program was abandoned only after both the FDA and the Connecticut Attorney General expressed their concern. You can read more about this failed industry scam in Forbes and in the New York Times.

The Verdict

Kraft's Teddy Grahams are made with trans fat and highly processed, nutritionally empty ingredients. Kraft has repeatedly attempted to deceive consumers into believing Teddy Grahams are healthy. The dangers associated with trans fat are well known, yet Kraft continues to target children and their parents.

This immoral conduct is currently being challenged by a class action lawsuit in California.

Other Product Details

Click on any of the Kraft products below for more details on their unhealthy ingredients and deceptive packaging claims.

Teddy Grahams Premium Saltine Crackers Ritz Crackers
Honey Maid Grahams Vegetable Thins Ginger Snaps