This week in our continuing investigative journalistic series How Do They Do It, we delve into the dark, hidden realms of the edible.
The culinary world is full of mysteries. How many times have you pondered such imponderables as:
- Just what exactly are the fifty-seven secret herbs and spices in Kentucky Fried Chicken?
- What makes the special sauce of a Big Mac so special?
- Why is there no squid in Squid Brand(tm) fish sauce?
We here at Very Little Known Facts have burrowed deep into the underbelly of the food we eat every day. Indeed, our sources have given us unprecedented access to the world of chemical flavoring and artificial ingredients, and today we share with you one of the never-before-disclosed secrets of the Non-Dairy Industry.
How Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer Is Made
The very name seems to be straight out of Jumbo Shrimp and Other Oxymorons by Jon Agee, available on Amazon.com.
How can cream be non-dairy, you might very well ask? And what exactly is creamer? Does that imply that cream is a verb? (Actually, cream is a verb, and one of the definitions does refer to adding cream to coffee, but it’s like the fifth one down in the list.)
But we digress. Why is non-dairy creamer also called whitener? Sure, the powder itself is white, but it doesn’t actually turn your coffee, tea, or soda white. Why would anyone want to call a food-related powder whitener as if it’s some kind of laundry product? For that matter, how can one refer to something as a cream and a powder simultaneously?
Above all, where does non-dairy creamer come from?
Where Non-Dairy Creamer Comes From
It starts with a cow, of course. Ironic? Indeed—one might say that the irony was delicious. In an industrial factory, cow’s milk is dehydrated through the standard process. The resulting mass is chemically rendered with potassium benzoate (a benzene derivative) to yield casein, a protein. Next this protein is mixed with sodium hydroxide (common table salt) and blasted with ionic radiation until it reacts, forming sodium caseinate—the only milk derivative that is non-dairy and therefore kosher.
WARNING: Since casein is technically milk protein, it is NOT safe for people with allergies to dairy products. Non-dairy creamer should never be given to infants or young children. Lactating or breast-feeding mothers should consult a doctor before resorting to non-dairy creamer. Women who are or may become pregnant should not ingest or even handle non-dairy creamer due to the risks of a specific kind of weight gain. The elderly should never user non-dairy creamer unless they are terminally ill or they are scheduled for some kind of doctor-assisted suicide, in which case what difference does it really make anyway—go for it with the non-dairy creamer.
Maize: My People Call it Sweetener
Just like ethanol, cornmeal, soda concentrate, candy, popcorn, and creamed corn, the number one ingredient of non-dairy creamer is—you guessed it—corn!
Since every trace of water must be extracted from all components of non-dairy creamer, the first step in the process is dehydrating the corn (naturally) by spreading the kernels or “cobbs” out in the hot sun over a three-week period to dry. Then the painfully sweet corn syrup is extracted by “pressing” the dried corn, a process involving a steam roller and carefully cut pavement grooves to direct the effluvia and runoff. Often this syrup is purified somewhat before being crystallized in a pure vacuum to create corn syrup solids.
Of course, corn syrup is almost entirely glucose, and sometimes it has been enhanced to include High Fructose. So remember before adding your artificial sweetener—you’ve already got dried, extracted, and crystallized corn syrup sweetener in your non-dairy creamer! And it’s completely natural!
Who Put the Horse Hooves in My Creamer?
Monoglycerides and diglycerides impart the “creaminess” to powdered non-dairy creamer through the use of water-soluble fatty acids terminating in a tasty glycerol molecule. Of course, those “in the know” will immediately recognize glycerine as the key ingredient of soap, which can be rendered from human fat a la Brad Pitt in Fight Club. (Did you see Brad Pitt in Fight Club, by the way?)
What you may not know is that glycerin is chemically identical to gelatin, which is extracted from the hooves of living horses by scraping the inner core or “viscera” of the hoof and boiling the resulting pulp until the gelatin (in the form of collagen) rises to the surface to be skimmed. As a side note, this is also the origin of collagen injections used by plastic surgeons in the lips, forehead, and noses of their badly disfigured or highly vain patients.
Is Your Oil Partially Hydrogenated or Partially Non-Hydrogenated?
Up next the oil powder goes into the mix. Dried vegetable oils such as corn, soy, palm, and coconut oil replace the nasty cholesterol from actual dairy cream with the same chemically enhanced trans-fats that make margarine so healthy. And don’t worry—non-dairy creamer is no longer made with pork lard. Not since the Eighties!
Dipotassium Phosphate: Twice as Good as Monopotassium Phosphate
At this point in the process we have created something very similar to non-dairy creamer save for the fact that your body would never be able to digest it, at all, no matter how long it lingered in your system. To remedy this, food scientists add dipotassium phosphate to the mix, also known as phosphoric acid. This ingredient aids the body in breaking down sugar, fat, and protein—so your non-dairy creamer comes partially digested for your convenience.
Have you ever wondered why Coca-Cola is so effective at chemically dissolving corrosion on car battery terminals? It’s all the phosphoric acid they cram in there. Besides adding some “zing” to Coke and non-dairy creamer, dipotassium phosphate also makes a great pesticide and fertilizer.
Feldspar: Not Just for Insulation Any More
After that we are left with a chalky mass that clumps into hard-to-dissolve chunks. To alleviate this, industrial mixers incorporate sodium alumionosilicate, aka sodium silicoaluminate, aka feldspar.
Feldspar is a mineral most often used in insulation, ceramics, and Bon Ami household cleanser. In non-dairy creamer, it is an anti-caking agent that also contributes to the highly explosive quality of non-dairy creamer.
Replicating Taste and Visual Appeal through Science
For the finishing touch, chemically-derived artificial flavors are added. These “secret ingredients” are the magic that make non-dairy creamer almost indistinguishable from non-non-dairy creamer to the human palate. Also, annatto is added for that distinctive “yellowish” color.
Now your non-dairy creamer is finally ready for that morning cup of Sanka with your choice of NutraSweet, Splenda, Equal, or Sweet’N Low!