Monday, April 6, 2015

This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? by Patrick Di Justo, 2015

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What do a cup of coffee and cockroach pheromone have in common? How is Fix-A-Flat like sugarless gum? Is a Slim Jim meat stick really alive? If I Can't Believe It's Not Butter isn't butter, what is it?
All of these pressing questions and more are answered in This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? Based on his popular Wired magazine column "What's Inside," Patrick Di Justo takes a cold, hard, and incredibly funny look at the shocking, disgusting, and often dumbfounding ingredients found in everyday products, from Cool Whip and Tide Pods to Spam and Play-Doh. He also shares the madcap stories of his extensive research, including tracking down a reclusive condiment heir, partnering with a cop to get his hands on heroin, and getting tight-lipped snack-food execs to talk. Along the way, he schools us on product histories, label decoding, and the highfalutin chemistry concepts behind everything from Midol to Hostess fruit pies.
Packed with facts you're going to want to share immediately, this is info-tainment at its best—and most fun!—which will have you giving your shampoo the side-eye and Doritos a double take, and make you the know-it-all in line at the grocery store.
(192 pages)

Di Justo definitely did his research for this book. He bats around words like "carrageenan" and "3-isobutyl-2-methoxy-pyrazine" as easy as anything, listing off their origins and common uses in terms that anyone (including me) can understand. Each little chapter is only a few pages long, listing out the most bizarre and disgusting ingredients in the featured product. He doesn't just break down food items, though - trust me, you do not want to know what's in that fabric softener you're putting on your clothes!

This is the sort of book that's good in small doses. I read it over the course of a few days, and I think I suffered overload. There reaches a point where nothing shocks you. "Horse fat? Manure? Diesel exhaust? Okay, whatever." Get the book and read it in small doses. A few here, a few there - it's the kind of book you flip through with your friends, making gagging sounds and proclaiming loudly at the crazy stuff they add to make your food look like food. Read it all in one go like I did, and it's senses overload!

Now, I do have a complaint or two to make. My favorite parts of the book are the extra notes he adds to the end of entries, providing some backstory or a funny anecdote about a particular product. However, sometimes he is a bit too crass for my taste. He uses swear words a couple of times, and a bit of crude humor. Also, two of the products he breaks down are "enzyte" and "K-Y Yours+Mine Couples Lubricant." I, a rather straight-laced teenager, am a bit hazy on what exactly these are. However, I couldn't get through either of these entries because of all the innappropriate jokes about the products. 

It's really too bad that he crosses the line a few times, because if he didn't I would happily recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone looking for a well-researched and hilariously gross look at the food in our pantry. As it is, I still recommend it but with a warning to skip the two products I mentioned above and a heads up that the humor, while usually fine (and hilarious!) becomes too much sometimes.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

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