United's Downfall? Mystery Snacks

Robert Carlsen After reading Jerry Chandler’s four-part series about the travails of the U.S. airline industry, and United’s woes in particular, I think I know what specifically led to the downfall of UA its choice of onboard snacks. You know, those freebie things you get with your Cokes. In the past

By: Robert Carlsen

After reading Jerry Chandler’s four-part series about the travails of the U.S. airline industry, and United’s woes in particular, I think I know what specifically led to the downfall of UA its choice of onboard snacks. You know, those freebie things you get with your Cokes.

In the past couple of months, I’ve flown Southwest, American and United, which usually serve, respectively, pretzels, a cheesy kind of mix, and a “savory” mix. (Though I was surprised last week, when on American, they served pretzels instead.) As we all know, peanuts cost too darn much, and airlines have had to find alternatives to save money. Southwest’s pretzels are fine; and, actually, American’s cheesy mix is not bad-tasting, though it stains your fingers like Cheetos stain my son’s hands (who, in turn, rubs them all over the furniture).

But, United’s concoction is truly scary. It’s “manufactured” by a company called Delyse French Gourmet Food in Reno (Reno?). About the only thing of value it offers is 1 gram of protein, plus a smidgen of iron and vitamin C. Nothing else. It has stuff like “reduced iron” (Can you really do that? Is it a thing or a process?), sodium stearoyl lactylate, soy grits and dried cheddar cheese that consists of pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, enzymes, calcium chloride, water and disodium phosphate. Plus, those always reassuring “natural flavors.”

With all these challenging ingredients going for it, United’s savory mix tastes like absolutely nothing. Well, maybe a little like cardboard. I think this separates the cheap from the very cheap, and that is why United is losing passengers. I’d like to see UA try to sell us this garbage, if they get that desperate for cash.

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