Food manufacturers will go to great lengths to offer consumers the most delicious, inexpensive, and convenient products possible, but some foods are difficult to produce cheaply and others are naturally susceptible to spoilage. For better or for worse, modern food scientists have been able to use ingredients like corn syrup, soybean oil, and certain enzymes to create what we might call imitation foods.
Their innovative techniques have made “exotic” foods like Parmesan cheese, truffle oil, and crab legs available to the masses, and have also allowed previously perishable foods like coffee creamer and cookies to last what seems like forever. But the food industry has also used this science to deceive consumers, and many of the common foods that line the shelves of the supermarket are not what they appear to be.
Though these foods are clearly marketed as one item, reading the fine print shows that they are actually something far different. Often the ingredients will tell the whole story, revealing that a lemonade mix contains no lemons or that a pancake syrup contains none of the expected maple — but some foods are susceptible to adulteration that goes beyond what’s on the label. Corn syrup is commonly added to “pure” honey, wood pulp is mixed in with powdered “Parmesan” cheese, and “natural beef flavor” is somehow vegetarian.
Here are 11 foods that aren’t what they seem.