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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Story of Tuna Twist

"Tastes as fresh as a garden! New Nabisco Tuna Twist has everything that tastes best with tuna; great garden vegetables, herbs and seasonings. Turns 4 sandwiches into 6! Tuna Twist contains nourishing natural vegetable protein, so you get two extra sandwiches from every can of tuna. Takes 1 bowl, 1 minute! Just add a pouchful of Tuna Twist to your tuna and mayonnaise. Try Onion, Cheddar Cheese or Italian! Each delicious flavor turns your tuna into sandwiches or salads that taste fresh as a garden!" Photo: Gone, But Not Forgotten Groceries
In the '70s, inflation became a problem. So more housewives were working outside the house to help make ends meet. But the extra work meant something also had to give, namely kitchen meal prep time. This led to a rise in boxed mix and canned food sales for all types of meals. Microwavable meals were still in the experimental stage and wouldn't become widely available until the 1980s. So Hamburger and Tuna Helper, Shake & Bake, Kraft Mac & Cheese. Chef Boy-Ar-dee pizza and Stir & Frost cake were among the huge sellers of the '70s

And then there was Tuna Twist.

Introduced in 1976, Tuna Twist did more than liven up lowly tuna fish, it expanded it. It gave you 6 sandwiches for the amount of tuna as 4.

Now some of you who read the ad copy above with 2019 eyes might have spotted something many housewives with 1976 eyes did not. I mean, just look at all the garden vegetable goodness in this stuff. It's all it talks about, right?

From the first glance, you'd think it was just loaded with veggies. And that's what made up the difference, right?

What actually made Tuna Twist stretch to 6 sandwiches was "natural vegetable protein" (i.e. tofu/soy) But that little detail was, as you can see, obscured by the glowing mentions of garden vegetables, underlines, exclamation marks and superlatives.

What wasn't understood were soy allergies.

Soy or TVP (textured vegetable protein) is an additive to most commercially processed foods because it's extending filler and absorbs the taste of whatever else you make it with. Most people can process soy based foods normally. But others simply cannot. In fact, there were a lot of food allergies corporate food giants were tone deaf about in the '70s (and some still are.) However, many processed foods now have labeling to alert consumers of certain allergy risks.

But after a few months on the market, Tuna Twist was recalled. Because people with soy allergies were getting sick en masse. It never came back.

Photo: Gone, But Not Forgotten Groceries

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