Ah, yes. It’s just about that time of year when neighbors and coworkers start putting on the hard sell for their Girl Scouts. Not that it’s a hard sell—who wouldn’t want to buy a box of delicious cookies from an adorable little girl in a uniform?
This year, among the boxes of Thin Mints and Tagalongs, you might notice something new: a cookie called Mango Creme, made with vanilla and coconut cookies and a mango-flavored cream infused with … vitamins. Wait, what?
Yes, the Girl Scouts have attempted the impossible, debuting a “healthy” (quotes absolutely necessary) cookie slugged with one of those PRish health-food names: NutriFusion. Its own website describes NutriFusion as a “product using a unique scientific process that allows for the preservation of all-natural nutrients, that when added to foods and beverages, supercharges their nutritional value.” ABC Bakers, the company that makes the cookie, calls it a “better for you” treat, and claims it has “15 percent Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin B1 and 5 percent RDI of Vitamins A, C, D, E, and B6 per serving.”
According to the product’s nutrition label, one serving is three cookies and has 180 calories (70 from fat), plus eight grams of fat (including four grams of saturated fat) and 11 grams of sugar. By comparison, if a person were to eat an actual mango (one cup’s worth), he’d get 107 calories, zero fat, three grams of fiber, and 24 grams of sugar. Vitamin-wise, he’s looking at 25 percent of his vitamin A requirements and 76 percent of his vitamin C requirements. I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Here’s the thing: I’m totally not anti-cookie, especially Girl Scout cookies. I’ve been know to go to town on some Thin Mints. But here’s the rub: I’m okay with that because I know that a cookie is a cookie—in other words, it’s a treat. What I’m not doing is trying to trick myself into thinking I’m doing something healthy for my body by eating a cookie, and that’s the fear I have with these vitamin-infused Mango Cremes. By couching them as “better for you,” don’t you think lots of people will treat them as healthy snacks and wind up eating more than they should—all in the name of good health? It’s the catch-22 of all packaged snacks that bear labels with nutrition or health claims: you think you’re being healthy when, really, you’re not.
So here’s what I propose: let’s agree to call a cookie a cookie. By all means, treat yo’ self, but don’t fool yourself into believing that a package of cookies is a good substitute for a piece of fruit. Because, well, your thighs will beg to differ.