Hey Purina: Push My Buttons, Then Push My Cat’s Buttons


Mmmm! Yellowfin Tuna Florentine!

We’ve seen how the food industry takes terms like “Tuscan,” stomps all over them, and then presents them back to us as their own newfangled flavor.

We’ve seen Tuscan pizzas (even though Tuscany has no pizza tradition), Tuscan flavored potato chips, Tuscan frozen entrees, and just about anything else “Tuscan” you can think of, totally betraying the very concept of Tuscan food, which involves a handful of local ingredients, simply and freshly prepared. There are no cans in Tuscany. Ditto with the subset of Tuscan called “Florentine.”

So, when I saw the word “Florentine” applied to cat food recently, I nearly hurled in the supermarket aisle. It was a can of Purina’s Fancy Feast Elegant Medley “Yellowfin Tuna Florentine in a Delicate Sauce with Garden Greens,” and could they have worked harder to push all our foodie buttons? Also on the label were such empty buzzwords as “Exquisite Taste” and “Gourmet Cat Food.”


No Florentine recipe has 36 ingredients. Come to think of it, no Florentine specialty comes in a can.

Well, I bought a can and hurried home with it, mindful of the fact that I had to taste whatever was inside and find out how “Florentine” it really was. I was curious about those garden veggies, too. The ingredients list contained 36 substances, which seems to contradict the very concept of Florentine-style Tuscan food. Among them were things that I–trained as a chemist at the University of Texas–couldn’t quite figure out, such as taurine, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, and biotin, in addition to such dodgy ingredients–given that this is a seafood “entrée”–as liver (animal unspecified), meat byproducts (animal unspecified), and soy protein concentrate.

Are they trying to send my cat on a Tuscan vacation, or kill it? I wondered.

Next: I purse my lips and taste the cat food.


Doesn’t look too appetizing, does it?

When I opened the can it oozed with a smegma-like white liquid-ey substance, and I wondered what it was, since Florentine food contains no gravy. With a shaking hand, I put fork to the contents of the can and raised a small quantity, dripping, to my lips.

I was expecting something vile and fishy. Instead, the bite tasted like–nothing! It was mind-numbingly bland and saltless. Certainly not like anything ever made in Florence. And as for the “garden greens,” these were represented by a few green flecks that must have been spinach, the seventh ingredient on the label. What a charade! Shame on you, Purina! From now on, when I have a disgusting dish in a restaurant, I intend to call it “Purina-style.”


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