The Kitchen Think: Fed Up With Caffeine in Food


Why does the food world think we need caffeine in EVERYTHING? Especially in things that children might eat? Like sugar?

I was on a tear a few months ago when Wrigley announced that it was going to start selling a caffeinated chewing gum supposedly aimed at adults. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who thought it was dumb idea and Wrigley has stopped production.

But now, ThinkGeek is selling “Jacked Up Caffeinated Baking Sugar,” real sugar with 46mg of caffeine per teaspoon. The makers of Jacked up Sugar say this sugar lets you “amp up” your baked goods… or, for that matter, anything else.

Jacked Up Caffeinated Baking Sugar

An 8-ounce cup of regular brewed coffee contains between 95 and 200mg of caffeine.

Your body absorbs caffeine very quickly… in as little as 15 minutes. But, caffeine can linger in your body for up to 12 hours.

This isn’t a good thing. Especially for kids.

Potato chips, maple syrup, waffles, jelly beans, water… seems like everyday there’s a new caffeinated product on the market.

Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration announced it would begin looking into the safety of caffeine in food products, with a particular focus on its effects on children and adolescents.

But there has been no action so far, and yet another caffeinated food item that a child might eat is now on the market. What is it going to take to get some regulations in place?

We all know the answer to that one, now don’t we?

 Jacked Up Caffeinated Baking Sugar Crystals

Try This: Coffee Pronto!


Absolutely thrilled to learn that one of my (many) vices may actually be good for me… COFFEE!Pouring Coffee

Coffee has always gotten a bum rap because the caffeine in it is a stimulant, which doesn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle. But according to the New England Journal of Medicine, coffee is rich in antioxidants and may actually decrease the likelihood of your dying early or developing Type 2 diabetes.

But what I’m REALLY excited about is that another study says coffee drinkers are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. This is comforting because as I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’m forgetting more and more.

Now, where was I…

Oh, yes… coffee. A few other findings:

• Helps you sleep better at night (if consumed earlier in the day)
• Lowers the risk of developing some forms of skin, oral and prostate cancers.
• Speeds recovery after colon surgery.

prontoThis is all great news because my good friends at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen just sent me some samples of Pronto!, their new line of single serve, cold brewed liquid coffee concentrate made with 100% Arabica beans.

I’ve never really cared for instant coffee, but one little “brewstick” in 10 ounces of hot water changed my mind. This tastes like freshly brewed coffee, but with the plus of speed, portability and convenience.

Pronto! Is single origin, Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified and comes in seven flavors like French Roast, Hawaiian Hazelnut and Crème Brulée. It’s sold in a container of six sticks and can be found at Walmart or on Amazon.

Now… how about another cup of Java?





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The Kitchen Think: Fed Up with “Energy” Products


“Energy” Chewing Gum. Really?

Last week the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. announced it will launch caffeinated chewing gum for adults… yes, you read that right, for adults.


Tapping into the exploding energy products markets, Wrigley is offering up Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, aimed at consumers aged 15 to 49. Each piece is packed with 40 milligrams of caffeine… as much as a 16-ounce soda or half-a-cup of coffee.

Wrigley says Alert will prominently display its ingredients and have warning labels. They plan to sell the gum in a unique hexagonal shape about the size of a nickel. It’ll also be priced at about twice what regular gum costs.

But really, there’s no way to stop kids from buying a pack. It’s not like gum is illegal… but neither are those high-octane energy drinks.

The gum’s launch comes at an auspicious time, when government agencies are focusing more attention than ever on so-called “energy boosting” product. Last week, the city of Chicago began considering a ban on energy drinks containing 180-milligrams or more of caffeine per container (that’s the common amount found in energy drinks). The FDA is also investigating reports of people who’ve died after drinking the beverages.

The gum comes in minty or fruity flavors, although Wrigley says it will have a somewhat bitter taste to dissuade those from chewing the gum “for enjoyment.” (Yeah, right…)

Obviously Americans crave an energy rush, with caffeine showing up everywhere… from Jelly Belly Sport Beans to Cracker Jacks.

But why does Wrigley have to incorporate caffeine, a psychoactive drug, into food that is familiar and easily accessible to children?


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: