The Corporate Cookbook Challenge

Chipotle rebrands as weight loss clinic.

By Lester & Charlie

It’s hard to miss all the news these days about Chipotle. WaPo reported that more than 500 people in about 15 states ate their crap and were poisoned. Everything from the stock market to clogged toilets went into a panic and Chipotle has been subpoenaed for a criminal investigation. They are, for the time being, the face of corporate food evil.

But what’s the fuss? Corporations have been poisoning us for decades, and we willingly gobble down their foodstuffs regardless of risk. Sure, we now know to stay away from Chipotle for a while, but test drive any food giant’s corporate cookbook and you’ll find out if they’re naughty or nice.

Corporate cookbooks? Yes, they exist. Let’s get started.


With more than 20 proprietary brands ranging from Egg Beater™ to Reddi Wip™, ConAgra’s recipes read like a supermarket circular. We tested their Sloppy Joe™ Jalopy Sandwiches. 

This creation calls for shoving ConAgra’s Hebrew National™ Beef Franks through some cucumber slices, fastening them with toothpicks and then shoving them into bratwurst rolls that have been toasted with two tablespoons of their Parkay™ Original Spread. Then dump some Manwich™ on it. ConAgra says you can add some vegetables, too, but only for decoration.

While trying to digest that, check out their Slim Jim™ Jerky products page. It’s riveting and loaded with MSG and testosterone. For the wannabee jerk, it suggests pickup lines like: “I’m not staring at your boobs, I’m staring at your heart,” and, “Are you a beaver? ‘Cuz, Daaaaam!”

ConAgra gets extra credit for original “togetherness tips” on their Parkay Spread™ Family Focus web page, including: Think about conversation starters throughout the day to help everyone open up at dinnertime. Try conversation starters like "What is one positive thing that happened today?" or "If you could be an animal, which one would you be?”


The 11th Annual “Costco Way” cookbook delivers affordable food and a lot of it. With nearly 200 recipes, even the cookbook screams bulk. Unlike ConAgra, which makes you stick with their own brands, Costco carries scores of other people’s poisonous brands. And celebrity chefs no one has ever heard of developed recipes for each of them.

We made the “Pizzaaa SPAM™ Bake” from page 175. Simple enough: brown some low sodium SPAM™ along with some Hormel® pepperoni and onion, mix it with cooked elbow macaroni and a jar of pizza sauce, top with some cheese and you’re good to go. It serves 6 people, if you can round them up.

Dow Chemical’s Brand Names Cook Book

Ecumenical in a corporate way, this 1961 collection of delights promotes no single brand; rather, it pitches every known corporate food that can be covered up in Dow Saran Wrap™. Each of its rather desperate 700 recipes is brought to you by then-household names: Fruit and Shrimp Rings from Standard Foods, Unpeeled Bananas from the United Fruit Corporation and Corn Chowder from the American Dehydrated Onion and Garlic Association.  

For the main course, we chose their Ham-Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce. Just spread French’s® mustard onto slabs of boneless canned ham, roll each slab around a slice of banana, butter the outside, secure with a toothpick and bake to, uh, taste. Then cover all that with a mix of American cheese melted in a cup of milk and two teaspoons of flour. For desert, we made their Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake by adding Hershey® chocolate and Kraft® mayonnaise to a Jiffy® cake mix.

After sampling from just three cookbooks, we started to see a correlation between things that corporations want us to eat and things they want us to endure. Dow chemical has by far the most repulsive recipes, and they’re also the people who brought us Napalm, Agent Orange and 96 toxic Superfund sites. ConAgra sets down the rules – it’s their brands or no brands. So it’s no shock that since 1997 they’ve paid out $324.5 billion to people they poisoned and discriminating against. Costco, which voluntarily pays workers more than the minimum wage and offers the majority of them health benefits, is the only one in the bunch that at least tried to offer thoughtful and balanced recipes.

Like grandma used to say, “It’s not about the food, it’s about the company.”

Published January 13th, 2016

Lester & Charlie earned oodles of fans through their videos, polls, and insightful commentary on Internet hubs like “Crooks & Liars” and “The Huffington Post.” Their essays on politics and alcoholism can be found at Today, Lester & Charlie have a worldwide audience spanning five continents and whatever Iceland is. 
They have produced two books: “Please Stand By: Lester & Charlie’s 50 Favorite Television Test Patterns” and “ Losers: Lester & Charlie's Favorite Collection of Losing Lottery Tickets.” Each is surprisingly still available on They are currently working on their third book: “Lester & Charlie’s 100 Incredible Coffee Stains.”