It’s time that we re-named nutritional yeast flakes. The name is problematic on many levels. Today I offer a few suggestions that are more enticing.
You know how everyone feels bad for celebrity kids getting names like Pilot, Apple, Blanket, Diva Thin Muffin, and Pebbles?
(What? That was only on the Flintstones? Well, forget about that last one then.)
Well, there is one naming situation that is possibly worse.
That unfortunate award goes to Nutritional Yeast Flakes.
For those not in the know, nutritional yeast is a supplement that’s high in B-vitamins and made from deactivated yeast. It has a delicious cheesy flavor that’s great on popcorn and adds a savory depth to gravies and sauces.
Many vegans and cats are addicted to the stuff.
(Is yeast vegan? Yes, it’s from the fungus family, like mushrooms.)
Admittedly, there are only three things wrong with the name – Nutritional, Yeast, and Flakes.
Let’s look at them each one at a time.
First off, no one wants to eat something whose first and most notable title is “Nutritional.”
This is a descriptor that is never used as a compliment.
“Mmm, those oat groats look awfully nutritional. Give me another helping!”
Instead people conjure up the smells of their parents downing Geritol or that unhappy sight when a spoonful of cough syrup was heading mouth-ward.
Next up, Yeast.
I don’t want to be indelicate here, but when people hear yeast, they think bread… and infections. Nutritional yeast flakes aren’t generally going into loaves of bread, and so that leaves only infections.
Ask someone if you’d like to top their spaghetti or popcorn in yeast and expect strange looks at best, sudden dinner cancellations at worst.
Okay, there are snowflakes, which to some people could be a positive thing, but with yeast flakes being yellow, I don’t know that it’s a huge selling point.
No, the major thing we think of with the term flakes is dandruff. It puts one to the mind of cheesy (okay, kind of appropriate) commercials from the 1980’s that were sandwiched between ads about ring around the collar and Calgon, take me away.
These commercials involved colorful sweaters and concerns over how to shampoo your scalp back to health.
So where does that leave us? Geritol Infection Dandruff. These are not selling points.
What’s a nutritional yeast-loving person to do?
Well, lots of people re-name it nooch, and I’ve gone that route a time or two. It’s cute. It sounds pleasant enough.
But you know what the problem is? Eventually you’re going to mention nooch to someone who isn’t vegan or vegan-curious. And they’re going to say, “What’s nooch?”
And then you’re left saying, “Nutritional Yeast Flakes,” which means zero to them.
That takes you back to the first problem and that is that nutritional yeast flakes is a terrible name for something so incredibly delicious.
If you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve tried to skirt the issue by describing its origins instead.
Friends, if there’s one thing worse than calling it Nutritional Yeast Flakes, it’s describing its origins.
“It’s this non-active yeast that grows on molasses.”
Can I tell you how wholly unappealing that sounds? Non-active yeast growing on molasses?
It’s still past what most people can imagine in terms of their own ideas of, say, farming. And it doesn’t do anything to help the case for our friend, nooch.
I’d say we have two choices.
Here’s the first. Find an agreeable nickname that is liked by all parties.
I’d like to throw the following options into the hat:
1. Cheesy Sprinkles
What’s the first thing people tell you when you say you’re vegan? Right, that they don’t eat much meat.
And second? That they could never give up cheese. (Occasionally, the order is reversed.)
So we know that people like cheese. And sprinkles remind people of cakes and cookies and birthdays. And those are very pleasurable things, indeed.
2. Droplets of Sunshine
We have sunshine, which let’s all agree, is awesome. Then we have droplets, which are reminiscent of a spring rain and daffodils and skipping in puddles– again good things.
3. Popcorn Topping
It’s not the most flowery name ever, but it’s quick and to the point. And I don’t think people will question it too much.
(If you’ve read the ingredients in conventional popcorn topping, you’ll likely agree.)
“Hey, do you want some popcorn topping?” This sounds innocuous enough.
Outside of heavy renaming, I’d say our other option is to just give it to those who don’t question the name. To them, it doesn’t need a name at all.
All they need to know is that it’s the addictive stuff in the ceramic jar that’s delivered by spoon to their kitty treat plate.
Who needs words when an insistent meow will bring you this?