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Martin’s Potato Rolls Change for the Better

July 28, 2014

Greetings from Pennsylvania. Our cabin in the Poconos is spacious with plenty of modern amenities, most importantly wireless internet. So for better or for worse, the blog will indeed continue this week.

It’s only fitting that the first story should be about a Pennsylvania classic, Martin’s Potato Rolls. They are from Chambersburg, home of the famous Pennsylvania peaches, and beloved by many. In fact, Pirates Lakeside Grill has put these distinctive, soft widely-available buns on their menu with a great sense of pride.

That last part always struck me as odd. How could a place that uses local grassfed beef for their burgers and has a Tilldale Farm pastured pork hotdog, feel good about using a roll that is made with FD&C Yellow 5 & 6. Yes, that’s right. That signature color that some consumers must instinctively associate with eggs or butter really comes from artificial coloring.

Now what strikes me as strange, is the fact that Martin’s would finally fix a few flaws in their formulation, and keep such things under wraps. And for what it’s worth, the improvements go beyond the color.

Do not fear. The rolls are still a rich shade of yellow. But one shouldn’t walk away from today’s post thinking that Martin’s potato rolls are now actually bread. It’s still filled with dough conditioners, preservatives, and other ingredients that I’m not thrilled about.

But it’s a decided improvement. And even incremental improvement should be celebrated. I’ve decided to commemorate this change by buying two packs of the rolls that I thought I’d never buy again. And I’m looking forward to eating a few more of these specimens on my upcoming visit to PLG in August for their hot dog sampler.

Let’s see if the keen observer can tell the difference between these two labels.

Martin’s Old Ingredients:
Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Nonfat Milk, Reconstituted Potatoes, (from Potato Flour), Yeast, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Soybean Oil, Contains 2 Percent or Less of each of the Following: Salt, Butter, Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Azodicarbonamide, Monoglycerides and Diglycerides and Ethoxylated Monoglycerides and Diglycerides), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Propionate (a Preservative), Soya Flour, Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid, DATEM, Enzymes, FD&C Yellow 5 & 6 Coloring, Sesame Seeds.

Martin’s Current Ingredients (as purchased at Weis Markets):
Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Nonfat Milk, Reconstituted Potatoes (from Potato Flour), Yeast, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Sunflower Oil, Contains 2 Percent or Less of each of the Following: Salt, Butter, Sunflower Lecithin, Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monoglycerides and Diglycerides and Ethoxylated Monoglycerides and Diglycerides), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Propionate (a Preservative), Soya Flour, Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid, DATEM, Calcium Sulfate, Enzymes, Turmeric Color, Annatto Color, Sesame Seeds.

See? There are a lot of ingredients in there, so the change might not immediately jump out at you. But for starters, the soybean oil has been replaced with sunflower oil. That’s good for those who are concerned about the proliferation of RoundUp Ready GMO soybeans.

You may have noticed the addition of Sunflower Lecithin. Calcium Sulfate has also been added. The former helps to bind the ingredients, and the later is used as a dough conditioner. But I think it’s a fair tradeoff when one considers what has been removed….

Say goodbye to azodicarbonamide.

Perhaps you remember the Food Babe’s relatively recent effort to get the yoga mat’s out of Subway’s bread? Well, this is that. And it’s gone. Kaput. Martin’s used to use it, and now they don’t. Huzah.

And that pesky Yellow 5 & 6 are now out in favor of Turmeric and Annatto. This is especially fascinating because it was the Food Babe’s fight against these artificial dyes in Kraft’s Mac & Cheese that put her on the map.

Now, I have no idea if she had a meeting with Martin’s or whether the fine folks in Pennsylvania realized that they would just as well prefer it if this blogger/activist never had any reason to visit their corporate headquarters. Or maybe this fear-mongering woman who occasionally borders on the hysterical is actually helping to raise the awareness of consumer concerns about undesirable ingredients in corporate america.

My mantra has always been to fear no food. Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get upset when manufacturers are cutting corners to make their product more profitable by using inferior synthetic ingredients that seem to be required for mass production.

All things in moderation. That said, I figure my kids get enough junk when they are out the house, so I make it a point to try and keep everything I buy for home up to a higher standard.

Kudos to Martin’s for taking the first step down the path of the righteous. They have further to go, but they are headed in the right direction.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 28, 2014 11:12 am

    I’ll tell you why Pirates Lakeside Grill uses Martin’s rolls, in spite of the fact it doesn’t align with the grass fed beef.

    Because Martin’s rolls are AWESOME on burgers. It’s what I use at home for my burgers. It’s also not a big secret that they are the roll of choice to build a great burger.

    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/04/the-burger-lab-whats-the-best-bun-for-my-burger-taste-test.html

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