Don’t you just hate it when you’re living in the 1950s, you’re trying to diet, and the only options out there are full-fat salad dressings and sugary desserts? When the only canned fruits you can find are swimming in heavy syrup? And when the ONLY dessert option is a high-fat chocolate topping? Enter Tillie Lewis: “America’s First Woman in Dietetic Foods”. Tillie blew the lid off the diet industry by giving us sauces and other canned foods containing 1-3 calories per serving. HOW DID SHE DO IT?!
Before we reveal her big secrets, let me give you a little background on Tillie. Now we didn’t exactly learn about Tillie in our nutrition classes, so I thank Wikipedia for the following information. And because I’m officially out of school, I don’t feel guilty AT ALL for using Wikipedia to do my research. I kinda feel like I’m writing a book report right now, but here it goes…
Tillie was first married to an Italian grocer, and was the first to introduce the United States to the pomodoro tomato after that marriage went south. She set up a tomato cannery in California, formed a partnership with a man named Florindo del Gazio, and created Flotill Foods. Tillie and her corporation canned everything: veggies, fruit, baby foods, and sauces. Flotill Foods was even the largest contributor of canned rations to the U.S. army during the Korean War. She then married Meyer Lewis, an American Federation of Labor organizer, and formed the Tasti-Diet line of products.
So there you have it, Tillie Lewis in a nutshell. Now listen up, because I’m about to reveal Tillie’s big secret. I have two words to sum up her famous “Tasti-Diet” collection: Artificial. Sweeteners. Tillie made Splenda cool before Splenda even EXISTED. Her secret recipe? Well, according to my Google sources, Tillie figured out that saccharin mixed with pectin could be added as a flavoring to the foods canned by her company. Saccharin is an artificial sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sugar, but does not contain any calories. Saccharin has been quite the controversial substance over the years, complete with FDA investigations over its safety in foods. Despite investigations, saccharin is still quite popular in its use as a sugar substitute. On the other hand, pectin is found in the cell walls of plants, and is used in foods as a gel-like substance and stabilizer. The combination of saccharin and pectin allowed Tillie to can her fruits in “heavy syrup” without the heavy, and her sweet chocolate topping without the sweet.
Now let’s get real about these fake sweeteners for a minute. You may have read several articles online that claim artificial sweeteners cause cancer. If you’ve read even ONE of my posts, you’ll know exactly what you should do with that statement. Come on, we’ll do it together. 1. Take a step back. 2. Realize these studies may be inconclusive. 3. Take the statement in one hand and your grain of salt in the other. Excellent work, I can really tell you’ve been paying attention.
The truth is that since scientists can’t ethically give humans cancer, they test mega-doses of artificial sweeteners on rats. So these studies have only been done in animals AND you as a human would NOT be consuming these artificial sweeteners in the amount the rats were. Tossing one Splenda in your tea a day will NOT have an adverse health effect. Plus, artificial sweeteners may be helpful for people who need to be watching their sugar intake, like people with diabetes.
Bottom line is there’s a reason the Tasti-Diet products are no longer in style, and that’s because we’ve gotten smarter about “diet” products. We now know there are a million whole, delicious, healthy foods out there for you vs. these cheap imitations. We’ve come a long way, baby.