Eat This, Not That: Pointless supermarket foods

March 28, 2012 at 8:39 AM ET

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained the incorrect recommended serving size and nutritional information for Smucker's Uncrustables Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Sandwich. The item has been removed. Also, a related TODAY broadcast video contained an error and has been expired and removed from the site.

By Dave Zinczenko 

Men's Health 

Restaurant kitchens have produced some cringe-worthy novelty foods, including Applebee’s molten Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs, IHOP’s saccharine New York Cheesecake Pancakes, and Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt (a ghastly mozzarella stick/grilled cheese sandwich hybrid, for those of you fortunate enough not to know). But not to be undone, supermarket food manufacturers have jumped on the trend, releasing their own breed of thoroughly extraneous, pointless products.

In 1976, the average supermarket carried about 8,000 products, and people got along just fine. Today, supermarkets routinely carry more than 40,000 foods and food-like products, and very few of those actually improve our lives. To show you what I mean, here are four of the most useless foods on your grocer’s shelves, courtesy of "The Eat This, Not That! All New Supermarket Survival Guide."


Starbucks DoubleShot Coffee Drink (6.5 oz container) 

140 calories

6 g fat (3.5 g saturated)

17 g sugars

If you’re looking for a quick jolt, skip the DoubleShots—a Grande coffee from Starbucks has 2.5 times more caffeine. And what this “espresso” lacks in caffeine it makes up for with cream and sugar—so much so that by switching to regular coffee every morning, you will drop 11.5 pounds annually. Starbucks’ Via packets are instant, and they’re made entirely from calorie-free coffee beans. Plus, Via is about 33 percent cheaper. (That said, brewing your own drip coffee is undoubtedly the most economic option. Learn the secret to a perfect cup with The Truth About Coffee.) 

Eat This Instead!

Starbucks Via, 1 packet with sugar (1 tsp) and 2% milk (2 Tbsp)

30 calories

0.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)

5.5 g sugars


Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free yogurt, French Vanilla (6-ounce container)

170 calories

1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)

26 g sugars

Yoplait’s yogurt contains double the sugar found in a scoop of Breyer’s Original Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream. In fact, this compact cup holds over 100 calories’ worth! Conversely, Yoplait’s Light lineup cuts added sugars significantly and each container hovers around a respectable 100 calories. Slice in a few fiber-rich strawberries for an exemplary snack.

Eat This Instead!

Yoplait Light Yogurt, Very Vanilla (1 6-ounce container)

110 calories

0 g fat (0 g saturated)

15 g sugars

SNACK SELECTOR: The right snacks can keep your metabolism charged throughout the day, so choose wisely. When hunger hits, look no further than The Ultimate Snack Scorecard


Sobe Citrus Energy (20 oz)

250 calories

0 g fat

63 g sugars

After water, sugar is the first ingredient in this cavity-inducing beverage. As for juice, it comprises a mere three percent of the entire bottle—that’s just over a tablespoon! That’s why, to achieve the citrus-like yellow hue of this beverage, Sobe’s had to fortify the bottle with artificial caramel coloring, an additive that has been linked to cancer in lab studies. Your best option? Stick with orange juice—sure, it contains sugar, but every gram is natural and it’s nutrient-rich. Ounce for ounce, it packs 45 times more potassium than Sobe.

Eat This Instead!

Tropicana Orange Juice (8 oz carton)

110 calories

0 g fat

22 g sugars

HALLS OF SHAME: Your supermarket aisles are lined with insidious foods that will destroy your waistline, wallet, and health. Learn how to spot the most egregious offenders now using The NEW Worst Supermarket Foods.

LEAN FOR LIFE: Research shows that our lifelong eating habits are established when we’re young. Follow these 6 Rules for Raising Healthy Children to give your kids the strongest start. 



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