care for an afterdinner mint?

I'm a bit fat-phobic. It's hardly my fault. We're a very body-conscious culture.

Just because I don't have a subscription to Vogue and I happen to be male doesn't mean I'm immune to the pressure to stay lean. (Besides, I prefer Cosmo to Vogue, anyway. You didn't think I learned how to keep my eyebrows so shapely all by myself, did you?)

And since I am one who counts fat grams, I'm pretty susceptible to flashy "FAT-FREE" labels.

Often, "FAT-FREE" is synonymous with "TASTES LIKE ASS." But that doesn't stop me from trying every new fat-free product that comes out. I consider myself somewhat of the Magellan of reduced fat products…a brave explorer…a trailblazer in the wilderness of creatively engineered foodstuffs. Fat-Free butter is probably the most frightening pseudo-food I've encountered thus far. I can almost see Fabio saying, "I can't believe it's not toxic!"

But there has been a new revolution: All hail Olestra! Olestra is a new fat substitute. My first experience was when a co-worker offered me one of his fat-free Pringles. 2 minutes (and 30 bliss-filled chips later) I was apologizing and promising to buy him a new can of chips.

Fat-free potato chips that actually taste good!? Glorious world! Glorious life! I rushed to the store to gather a stockpile.

OK, so they're not quite as palette-pleasing as the regular oil-soaked potato-based morsels, but they're pretty darn good.

Before filling my cart, I double-checked the nutrient list on the back. Sure enough: "Fat: 0 grams." Wait a minute…a little bit lower was a warning label:

"Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stool."

Yeesh. That can't be good.
It can also inhibit the absorption of some vitamins. Suddenly the Pringle Miracle was dissolving into a disappointing mirage.

What scared me even more than the thought of loose stool was the debate that went on in my head:

"They're fat-free! You could eat a whole can!"
"But what about the cramping? And the stool? Have you forgotten about the stool? You should keep your servings small."
"But I can't do that. I'll eat the whole can… I know myself."
"Don't make me bring up the stool…"
"But the warning says 'MAY cause cramping.' 'May' means that it may not! I'm willing to take my chances."
"You're a sick puppy."
"Oh yeah? I know you are but what am I?"


I guess its true: You can't have your cake and eat it too AND not suffer from loose stool and abdominal cramping.

I cursed the cruel world and shook my angry fist at the snack aisle. When the store manager stopped starring at me, I picked up a single can of chips to repay my co-worker. The only thing I bought for myself was a few extra rolls of toilet paper. Just in case.

other food-related Tales:

Flavor Crystals
Nectar of the Gods
Appliance of Liberation
A Banana Tale by Kaya
The Food Pyramid

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