'Going bananas' for ingredients

Sharpsburg woman wins Name That Food contest

Sharpsburg woman wins Name That Food contest

May 19, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Marshmallows roasted most of the competition in The Herald-Mail's Name That Food contest, which challenged readers to match lists of ingredients with the correct food item.

Only seven of the 17 people who entered the contest figured out that marshmallows - specifically Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows - contain corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, modified cornstarch, water, gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavor and artificial color (Blue 1). That's right - blue. The color seemed to throw many entrants, many of whom named various flavors of Jell-O instead of marshmallows.

But not Clear Spring resident June Bishop and Jennifer Silbert of Sharpsburg, both of whom correctly guessed all 10 food items. Silbert's name was then randomly drawn to earn her the $50 prize. Marge Poling of Hagerstown and Lynne Madden of Keedysville also aced the contest - but they were among many entrants who did not attach brand names to all of the items. That step was necessary because most of the targeted foods varied from brand to brand by at least one ingredient.


"The pesto was evidence for me that you had to be very brand-specific," said Silbert, 43, whose first pesto pick contained walnuts rather than the pine nuts listed in the contest entry.

Silbert worked as a part-time reporter at The Herald-Mail in 2000 and 2001. While the rules disqualified Herald Mail Co. employees from the contest, former employees were not restricted from entering.

Silbert's investigative nature and tendency to read ingredient labels drew her to the Name That Food contest, which ended up being a bit more difficult than she expected.

"I like to know what's going on in my neighborhood and what's in my food," she said.

"I'm a label reader, and, when I looked at the 10 foods, I thought it would be easy. I was thinking, 'I recognize the general food product. I'm just going to breeze through a lot of these,'" Silbert said. "It wasn't easy. Marshmallows was the hardest one."

Those pesky marshmallows were no match for Bishop, who's made them from scratch. But pesto proved a tough food item for her to name, in part because she only found the basil-based food - which isn't a staple in her diet - at one local grocery store, she said.

"I just kept racking my brain," said Bishop, who finally stumbled upon Classico Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce & Spread while combing the aisles at Martin's Food Market. She said she found six items on her first trip to the supermarket on the contest's start date, but she had to make additional stops at area stores on her way home from work the following week to find the remaining four food items.

Bishop used the Internet to link couscous to its single ingredient, precooked medium grain semolina. She was more familiar with Scrapple's distinctive ingredients - pork snouts and cornmeal - and the whole wheat and raisins in Kellogg's Raisin Bran.

Silbert ended up making five trips to different grocery stores after only nailing a few foods - including Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, Campbell's Chunky Grilled Sirloin Steak with Hearty Vegetables and Clabber Girl Baking Powder - the first time, she said.

"After about the fourth trip, I started getting obsessed," she said.

Silbert said she was "going bananas" searching for the food that matched the ingredients for Snyders of Hanover pretzels, spending her time in the bread aisle rather than the snack food section. She scoured the pasta shelves for evidence of the precooked medium grain semolina that she'd eventually find instead near the rice. And she happened to glance down at a bag of marshmallows while trying to match those elusive ingredients to a box of pudding, Silbert said.

"It was part luck," she said. "You really did have to be there looking in the aisles."

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