Ed Traisman probably caused the death of more Americans, outside of war, than any other man in our history by making or working on products that have done nothing to improve our quality of life.
Think about what he spent his life doing.
First, he made it possible for potatoes to be deep fried year around, giving McDonald’s the chance to serve their french fries to billions of people over and over and over. Do I have to explain how eating french fried potatoes has contributed to obesity in the U.S. If not for Traisman, there still would have been french fries, for sure, but he made it possible for McDonald’s to provide consistently mouth-watering french fries anytime, anyplace.
Second, after providing McDonald’s a way to clog arteries for decades, he joined American-Maize Products. Having secured a patent on his way of freezing potatoes for french fries, I doubt that he needed the money.
Because you’ve never heard of American-Maize products, here’s some background. They make sugar from corn, that’s correct, high fructose corn syrup. Golden Syrup, Crystal White Syrup, Butterscotch Syrup. They also are in the tobacco business, making cigars and smokeless tobacco products.
Ed was one of their sugar chemists. I guess at that time, sugar chemists were hard at work adding things to sugar to make it sweeter and whiter. They were putting additives in a natural product to make it taste and look better. They were changing high fructose corn syrup so it was sweeter than refined sugar.
An advantage of high-fructose corn syrup is that it “tastes sweeter than refined sugar,” making it a popular ingredient for food manufacturers because it enables them to use less, says George A. Bray, former director of Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
Americans presently consume 42 pounds of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) per year.
USDA estimates 2005 per capita HFCS consumption, adjusted for loss during transport, processing and uneaten food—which presents a more accurate figure of what we eat—was 42.2 lbs per year.
Third, Ed wasn’t done yet. While working for American-Maize, Kraft decided that their cheese products needed the touch of a guy that specialized in fat and sugar.
Cheez Whiz is one of a number of “processed cheese foods“, a category including similar products like Velveeta and some types of individually-wrapped cheese slices. These products contain regular cheese that has been reprocessed along with additional ingredients such as emulsifiers and stabilizing agents, such as xanthan gum or carrageenan. These products derive their tanginess and flavor from additional ingredients such as citric acid and flavoring compounds. Annatto is used for coloring. (Wikipedia.org)
We put Cheez Whiz on corn chips, hot dogs, and cheesesteaks – some of the All-American foods that have made us a nation of tubbies.
Nice legacy Ed.
UPDATE: I read Seth Godin’s take today on “rifting.” Being successful at one thing and moving on to another successfully. He cites Steve Jobs as a rifter.
[Rifters don’t worry so much about being seen as “unerring visionaries”. They just keep going.]
You can’t argue that Ed was successful three times.