Are Keebler’s Simply Made Cookies as Simple as Advertised?

Keebler Simply Made Cookies

Keebler, a cookie brand owned by Kellogg’s, is not known for its high quality products. It’s a strong brand, with dozens of products to offer, but most rate very low on Fooducate. A new line of cookies introduced by the company aims to change that by promoting the snack as using the same ingredients you would use if you were to prepare them at home:

We bake our delicious Simply Made cookies with Elfin ingenuity and the same simple ingredients that you’d find in your pantry — like butter, sugar, eggs, and wheat flour. Our scrumptious chocolate chips cookies are made with 100% real cocoa!

The package even shows drawings of wheat flour, butter, chocolate, and eggs.

All of this is marketing-speak.

You are probably wondering what the ingredient list actually looks like. Well, here it is:

Wheat flour, semisweet chocolate (chocolate, sugar, dextrose, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), sugar, butter (cream, salt), canola oil, contains two percent or less of natural flavor, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract, eggs.

It seems like for the most part, Keebler was right. When you prepare chocolate chip cookies at home, you are likely to be using a store bought bag of chocolate chips – chocolate, sugar, dextrose, soy lecithin, vanilla extract.

At home you’ll probably prepare your cookies with only one type of fat – butter. But using some oil instead of butter to reduce saturated fat is definitely all right. Keep in mind that soy, corn, and canola oils are likely GMO.

The only item you likely do not have at home is “Natural Flavor”. What exactly is this natural flavor? It is a way for the manufacturer to improve the aroma and taste of the cookies very cheaply.

Why would a manufacturer want to improve on a cookie that was made with simple enough ingredients? Several reasons: The quality of some of the ingredients may not be as high as possible, adding natural flavors masks that. Also, additives like this help maintain the flavor profile over the long shelf life that some packages will experience. Lastly, each brand prefers to have some unique signature flavor associated with it, and this is a way to differentiate from the hundreds of other chocolate chip cookie brands lining up the shelves in the supermarket.

Would you buy Keebler’s Simply Made cookies?

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  • Mary

    No I probably wouldn’t buy them. My homemade choc chip cookies are awesome and I try to keep some stocked in the freezer for those times when only “junk” food will do. Most people have their favorite home made recipe and if “natural flavor” is included I would surprised.

    Good for Keebler to try to have a better cookie. I am sure some people will be glad to have them.

    • Eddie

      I do use vanillin in mine, natural vanilla is too darn expensive, so basically not much differnce from this particular stuff. Seems an ok cookie, not purrfect (I often add some wholegrain or oat or some other fancy flour to the mix of mine or mix in some seeds) but fine to have chock fix!

      • trixietime

        I buy my vanilla at the restaurant supply stores, like Smart n Final. Great deals on vanilla and spices. I insist in real vanilla, that’s just one ingredient that you can’t scrimp on.

        • Eddie

          Oh Mighty Nation of Murica with it’s many stores to choose from :D I envy you guys sometimes. Here in post-Soviet Europe hunting down specific ingredients is a pain in the neck sometimes. It’s not like the stores are empty, it’s just that the do not stock things that a typical post-Soviet housewife does not know how to use and that can’t be eaten straight from the package. It’s getting better now, but 3 years ago even things like lentils or brown rice couldn’t be found in a normal supermarket, and for things like non-flavored rice crisps, spice mixes without added salt or MSG, non-wheat flours and such, the only way to get them for a price that is not quadrupled because ”It’s so fancy and exotic ingredient that you must be filthy rich if you have travelled so far that you actually know what it is and have come to our fancy Gourmet Exotic Tanatalizing Nutrition Parlour, and by the way did we mention that the shelf it’s sitting on is made of Applalachian bleeding oak” is to grow thick skin and shop in the Hare Krishna community temple store. I know I sound like a whimp, but it really creeps me out that light up plastic pics of Ganesha watch me shopping and explaining the shopkeeper monk that , yes, I have found the Lord and it’s Jesus, I have no interest in becoming a Hare Krishna, and simply happen to like poppadums and garam masala is really getting on my nerves :D

    • trixietime

      People are too often fooled by these food claims. they will eat highly processed food, created in a giant facility, thinking that they’re eating healthily. It’s all marketing, really. Doubt the ingredients are that different from their other cookies.

  • PlumberZeke

    It’s so stupid easy to make cookies from scratch, there’s really no reason not to.

  • Paula Middleton Reed

    NO, thank you – “Natural Flavor” means made in a laboratory, and it usually means gluten and/or MSG.

  • bnlgirlln

    Mixing butter and oil is a cooking trick. They both melt at different temperatures, so by mixing them you ensure that the cookie is not too crispy nor too soft.

  • http://blog.ianbeyer.com/ Ian B

    I’d guess “natural flavor” is probably vanillin or something along those lines (although vanillin is usually listed explicitly)

  • http://everythinghappens-blog.blogspot.com/ Alyssa B

    No, I still wouldn’t buy them. There will never be a packaged cookie that tastes as good as homemade, even if they use the same ingredients. Plus, I love the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the house.

  • http://www.be-first.biz/ Vadim

    I like their products, from time to time buy it.

  • Cactus_Wren

    I’d probably buy them. (I’m in Arizona. We don’t turn our ovens on in the summertime.)

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      LOL

    • Erin from Long Island Neu

      but you can bake them in your car! ;)

  • trixietime

    the problem with the “natural flavors” is that they’re often additives sourced in China, who has an abysmal record on food safety. Large corporate entities making food can never be “just like home” unless your idea of home baking is cutting cookies off a refrigerated roll. Opt for small company bakers, local bakeries, or make at home with good ingredients. Any cookie made in giant vats in a giant warehouse, can’t be good.

  • momniscient

    I have had these cookies, and they taste worse than the original Keebler Chips Deluxe. They are awful! I couldn’t figure out how these “simple” ingredients could end up tasting NOTHING like homemade cookies, and now I know it’s because they aren’t simple or natural at all.

  • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/ Bill

    I’d be cautious about food product that lists “natural flavor” as an ingredient. As Paula says below, that means it was produced in a laboratory. If the chemical components are assembled by the scientists the product is called “artificial flavor” but if extracted from some living thing they can be called “natural”. The chemical characteristics can be exactly the same as the artificial flavor.

    This is from Eric Scholsser’s book Fast Food Nation

    “A natural flavor,” says Terry Acree, a professor of food science at Cornell University, “is a flavor that’s been derived with an out-of-date technology.” Natural flavors and artificial flavors sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different methods. Amyl acetate, for example, provides the dominant note of banana flavor. When you distill it from bananas with a solvent, amyl acetate is a natural flavor. When you produce it by mixing vinegar with amyl alcohol, adding sulfuric acid as a catalyst, amyl acetate is an artificial flavor. Either way it smells and tastes the same. The phrase “natural flavor” is now listed among the ingredients of everything from Stonyfield Farm Organic Strawberry Yogurt to Taco Bell Hot Taco Sauce.

    A natural flavor is not necessarily healthier or purer than an artificial one. When almond flavor (benzaldehyde) is derived from natural sources, such as peach and apricot pits, it contains traces of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison. Benzaldehyde derived through a different process—by mixing oil of clove and the banana flavor, amyl acetate — does not contain any cyanide. Nevertheless, it is legally considered an artificial flavor and sells at a much lower price. Natural and artificial flavors are now manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate with Mother Nature. Calling any of these flavors “natural” requires a flexible attitude toward the English language and a fair amount of irony.

    Read more here: http://www.pbs.org/pov/foodinc/fastfoodnation_03.php

  • Hilary

    Do you people even understand what GMOs are? NO…. I can tell that because of your huge unfounded fear of them. Unless you are harvesting wild plants from remote forests you are eating some form of genetically modified plant/organism. Humans have altered the breeding of plants and animals since we left the hunter-gatherer stage of evolution. You like your organic oranges and grapefruit? Well the first citrus trees were so bitter you couldnt eat the fruit – humans bred them to be sweeter aka genetically modified those trees/organisms! Read a book. Go to college. Stop throwing around terms to scare people.
    - signed a fruit a vegetable researcher who gives healthy eating speeches to elementary schools and also happens to live on a farm!

    • Mary

      I’m not sure you know GMO either. Today GMO can include cross species modifications that would never happen with the traditional ways of plant breeding. If GMO is so safe why won’t industry support labeling? If stuff were labeled people could make their choice and over time if GMO is truly safe consumers will see that these products with GMO aren’t causing harm. There are lots of reasons to avoid GMO beyond their safety to the individual including environmental and economical. I have spent considerable time looking at both sides of the issue including looking at research report and papers presented by both sides. I am keeping an open mind about them,but obviously from my comment here I am not convinced that their safety has been proven. This Fooducate article is about one brand of cookie and I would not buy it because it uses “natural flavor” and that is a term for any number of things that may or may not have been proven safe.

      • Hilary

        Cross species modifications are something you need to read up on. Go to Google Scholar and look at peer reviewed articles on this. GMOs arent labeled because it isnt required and consumers who dont understand it would stop buying perfectly safe American made food.

        • Mary

          See Bill’s replies above.

    • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/ Bill

      Hilary, you are confusing hybridization and cross breeding with genetic modification. They are two entirely different things, the latter of which involves laboratory modification of plant DNA, by splicing the genes of organisms (bacteria) which operate as pesticides or herbicides into the DNA of corn or soybeans, for example.

      • Hilary

        It ALL comes down to DNA

        • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/ Bill

          Here’s the definition of “genetically engineered” used in the recent California ballot initiative. The distinction between isn’t difficult to follow.

          c) Genetically engineered.
          (1) “Genetically engineered” means any food that is produced from an organism or organisms in which the genetic material has been changed throughthe application of:
          (i) In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques and the direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or
          (ii) Fusion of cells (including protoplast fusion) or hybridization techniques that overcome natural physiological, reproductive, or recombination barriers, where the donor cells/protoplasts do not fall within the same taxonomic family, in a way that does not occur by natural multiplication or natural recombination.

          • Hilary

            Like I said it all comes down to DNA. It all comes down to those 4 base pairs.
            We could have bred corn for 60 years to get corn that would be Round Up ready but we did it in the lab and didnt have to worry about breeding out the traits that we do want.

          • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/ Bill

            You could cross-breed corn for 6,000 years and you’d never get bacteria genes in corn DNA, one being from kingdom plantae and the other from kingdom bacteria. Cross breeding and hybridization are good ways to select for favorable characteristics of a crop. Inserting genes from bacteria or animals into plant DNA is not hybridization.

          • Hilary

            We are currently breeding pickling cucumbers which involves inserting genes from whales.

  • roxanne

    No. The only store bought cookie I buy is made by Country Choice.

  • Pam

    Before eating this you need to do some research in what people are saying “natural flavors” include.

  • blesidizme

    Keebler Sandies Simple Shortbread Cookies now comes in a new package which reads: What Kebler never thought about printing on the new package was: (a total of three less cookies) and or So sad … signed the Cookie Monster

  • http://httpcolonslashslashwww.www.startupjerkfest.com StartUpJerkFest

    I gotta have cookies once in a while, part of my survival. I don’t want to use my time to cook. So I bought these to taste them, as an alternative to regular cookies. I think I paid $2 at WalMart. I think the price was the same as their other cookies packages. I recall being pleasantly surprised about that, wondering why they weren’t more expensive to signify a “healthier choice”. I assume you get less than in other packages? They tasted good to me, so I assumed I was doing good, eating “healthier” than “regular”, even though cookies are not as healthy. I also eat bananas. But sometime I want a cookie. But I found myself challenged to stop eating these, I was craving more and more. Finally will power made me hide the package where it will take a lot of work to get at it. I don’t know if that is some ingredient doing that to me. I also want to eat a lot of homemade cookies my wife makes when she feels like it & takes the time. so maybe it’s just craving for cookies. I guess I like buying these instead of regular cookies and the price is right for me. I also buy potato chips (Cape Cod Chips and Stax) and sometime I eat at fast food restaurants. So I can’t be considered a perfect eater. But eating these “healthier” cookies is probably better than eating “Regular” keebler cookies. I don’t want to live forever, and if I get cancer from cookies or fast food or breathing pollution, oh well, what can I do about it? I’ll pull the plug earlier than usual. I’ll try your app next to see what it is like.