Dan Rattiner's Stories

Snack Catastrophe: Ginger Snaps Move South of the Border and Disappear from Shelves

I first noticed there was something wrong about four months ago. Shopping at the East Hampton IGA on North Main Street, I went to the cookie aisle and there discovered that my favorite brand of cookie, which I was running out of, was not on the shelves. I was disappointed in that, and went home without my Nabisco Ginger Snaps, which I have been eating for years and years as my favorite sweet snack.

The slogan on the box says “Made with real ginger and molasses,” and I always go yum, yum. They are crisp and thick and when you bite into them they break softly and soon almost melt in your mouth.

How many of you out there love these ginger snaps? I thought so.

In the weeks that followed, I continued to notice that the Nabisco Ginger Snaps were still not in stock. I bought a substitute ginger snap, called Anna’s Thins, made in Sweden. They give you the same number of ginger snaps, but being thin, the box is much smaller, so it’s about half the size. Also, it costs about twice as much, being from Sweden and all. And anyway, they don’t have the rich snap that the Nabisco ones do. They apparently just wave the ginger over the cookie in the bakery. Also, when you bite them, they break into dusty crumbs. Not good.

Finally, I asked the manager, who I know, about it, and he seemed puzzled that the Ginger Snaps weren’t there. He said he’d look into it. But nothing came of it.

I missed my ginger snaps. I eat them when I drink coffee in the morning, then I have a few late morning and some in the afternoon when I have a small bottle of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino chilled coffee. Nothing wrong with that, anyway. It’s my routine.

I’ve often thought that I’m sort of addicted to these particular ginger snaps. I’ve read about certain tribes in Africa and elsewhere who habitually chew on certain kinds of herbs. My herb is Nabisco Ginger Snaps.

Then I noticed when shopping in New York City for our apartment there that there were none of my Ginger Snaps at Fairway.

That made me go to Google. Something was wrong. It turns out that the Nabisco Ginger Snaps are absolute proof that Donald Trump is right about everything. Everything he complains about comes to a crashing confluence with the demise of Nabisco Ginger Snaps.

Here’s the headline and lead paragraph from an article in Consumer Affairs magazine:

TOO MUCH LEAD IN NABISCO GINGER SNAPS, CALIFORNIA ALLEGES

“Food giant Mondelez—which bought the Nabisco line of snack foods from Kraft Foods a few years back—has agreed to pay $750,000 and limit lead in its cookies to no more than 30 parts per billion per serving,” the Consumer Affairs’ report says. (Actually, Nabisco got spun off by Kraft into an international snack food company that changed its name to Mondelez. Can they do that? They did!) And off went Ginger Snaps to a factory beyond our borders. I learned Nabisco is an American brand. It’s as American as Budweiser (which got sold to a consortium from Belgium). So here you have it, a corporate rejigger and Mondelez takes jobs away from Americans and sends them abroad, or as Trump might say, to Mexico. Over the narrow waters of the Rio Grande.

“The agreement follows a lawsuit filed by California and the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health,” the story continues. “The lawsuit charged that the company sold ginger snap cookies containing lead in excess of California limits without the warning required by California’s Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on any product containing potential carcinogens or substances that can cause birth defects.”

Are the Mexicans poisoning America? Is it deliberate?

“The levels of lead found in Nabisco’s Ginger Snap cookies posed a serious health threat, potentially impacting the brain development of our children,” said California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris in a press release quoted in Consumer Affairs. “My office will continue to enforce Proposition 65 to guarantee that all Californians are fully informed when hazardous substances and chemicals can be found in consumer products.”

Okay, but that’s in California. Why is that resulting in problems here in East Hampton? It’s the whole country being brought down by the Mexicans, that’s what.

“While Mondelez International has settled this case,” a company spokesman told Courthouse News Service, according to Consumer Affairs, “we remain confident that these products pose no health or safety concern to consumers and that all our products are sold in compliance with applicable federal and state laws. We felt it was in the best interest of all parties concerned to resolve this matter at this time to avoid protracted litigation,”

Probably speaking in Spanish, which had to be translated. Trump says real Americans speak English.

And then not only does Mexico have a leg up because all sorts of illegal things can go on there that can’t go on in America—we can’t compete, it’s not a level playing field—these robbers and drug dealers and rapists can get away with it. Trump warned us.

And where does this lead come from? There’s no lead in the ginger here in America. Must be in the ground in Mexico. You know where all the lead paint they peel off the walls in old houses goes? Straight to Mexico, where it is dumped.

“Experts have linked high lead levels in molasses to soil in which sugar is grown.…Sources of lead in powdered ginger have also been linked to contaminated soil in which ginger is grown,” Consumer Affairs magazine continues.

And it’s only on some pansy California rule made by all those wimpy liberals that they finally got caught. There’s too many rules and regulations.

I read on. The testing was done by the Center for Environmental Health in California. The law requires a warning on the label if a serving exposes them to more than 0.5 micrograms of lead. A serving of these cookies were found to have up to 9 times that, or 0.45 micrograms.

How much is a serving? I looked at the side of the box. I still have a box—the last of three—now down to the last 10 cookies. A serving is four cookies (28g). Personally, that is not a serving. I reckon a serving of ginger snaps by the sleeve. One sleeve is a serving. That’s a very large number of cookies. But no more.

If these ginger snaps are now from a company with a Mexican name (with an accent mark over the final “e.”), how come they still say Nabisco, Trump would bellow. Turns out when Kraft did the spin-off, the name Nabisco went with it. Olé!

Nabisco is American as apple pie, Trump might try. They’ve stolen the name. I don’t even know how to pronounce Mondelez, he’d say. Men-dole-olay? (Laughter).

(Dole, by the way, gets many of its pineapples from the Philippines.)

So now we come to the final question—which is, why don’t they just put the warning label on the cookies? Have they got morality? Ethics? Don’t want to hurt little babies? What they’ve done is re-formulated Nabisco Ginger Snaps! Here’s a review from some foodie site called pissedconsumer.com.

“65 years I have been eating the original NABISCO ginger snaps, my favorite cookie. Now Mondelez has changed texture from soft and chewy to hard and crackey, flavor from sharp lasting ginger to bland ephemeral ersatz, size from generous to stingy, price from 3 dollars to 5 dollars.

“No more NABISCO products for me! They are only branded Nabisco but manufactured by Mondelez. I will only eat processed food Made in America.

“I am seriously considering to make my own ginger snap recipe and go into business competing against Nabisco Mondelez!”

We must MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. There’s no buckets of lead paint dumped into ginger and molasses fields in America, I can tell you that.

Here’s a review from food-cooking.net:

“I used to enjoy Nabisco Ginger Snaps but hadn’t bought them for a few years. I recently bought a box, and I must say they are not very good. Have they changed? Is this a fluke? Does anyone have an ancient box of them, so we can compare ingredients? Unfortunately, I threw mine away!

“My observations:

1. They are paler than they used to be.

2. The top is slightly concave—and I don’t remember that.

3. They are VERY hard—and not in the same way that they used to be. They are UNPLEASANTLY hard now, and they do not soften to a decent texture as you eat them.

4. They don’t taste very gingery.”

Here’s an opportunity for those folks on Wall Street—the friends of Hillary—who can take Nabisco Ginger Snaps off Mexico’s hands for a song and bring them back to America. There’s a big bundle to be made here. Let me tell you. And we bring jobs, jobs, jobs back to America.

* * *

As you see from the selfie accompanying this article, I have just eaten, and savored every bite, of one half of a box of Nabisco Ginger Snaps that taste like Nabisco Ginger Snaps and put hair on your chest. I am carefully doling them out. According to scientists, there is no apparent logic to the 0.5 microgram rule because they have yet to figure out what amount of lead in your body is dangerous.

I remember the days, traumatic days 31 years ago this year, when the suits at Coca-Cola disastrously pulled off the market the wonderful, secret formula, gorgeous-tasting Coca-Cola and replaced it with something called New Coke that tasted awful. They said we’d learn to like it. Live and learn. Life goes on. The entire country rose in protest. Old bottles of Coca-Cola were treasured and drunk secretly in back alleys for a while.

And then Coca-Cola brought back the old formula and, eventually, deep-sixed the horse piss they had replaced it with. It was a victory for the people, and Coca-Cola, the company, survived. Took a big hit. But nevertheless.

Many of us back then were emotionally scarred for years. I was one. And I remember it well.

Also, in more recent years, we’ve had the Hostess Twinkie, Ding Dong and Ring Ding capers.

Nabisco Ginger Snaps Anonymous (NGSA) meets every other Thursday at 8 p.m. at the VFW Hall in Sagaponack. Y’all come.

* * *

Wait a minute. I just noticed something else at the East Hampton IGA. For the second week in a row, they have no boxes of Nabisco Wheat Thins Original. This is my late-afternoon snack of choice, when I turn from sweet to salty. I generally put a slice of cheese on each thin. In the store there is Wheat Thins Artisan Cheese, Chipotle, Flatbread Garlic & Parsley, Flatbread Tuscan Herb, Hint of Salt, Multigrain, Reduced Fat, Sundried Tomato, Spicy Buffalo, Zesty Salsa, Ranch, Honey Mustard, Chili Cheese and Smoky BBQ. But no Original. Uh oh.

* * *

Now here’s the grand finale. I am eating one ginger snap every day, right after breakfast. It’s my lead daily limit. Makes me see double for half an hour. But I don’t care. I should run out just before Christmas.

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