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Five Mass-Produced Foods Even Food Snobs Love

Chefs are notorious for yapping on about the pleasures of farm-fresh vegetables - and then opening a bag of something for dinner. The rigors of restaurant work and human nature lead even the most fearsome food snobs to occasionally indulge in mass-produced, highly-artificial, uber-preserved snacks. Here, a list of five items for which serious culinarians will almost always bend their rules:

Popeye's chicken

There's such little shame in loving Popeye's fried chicken that the famously fastidious restaurant critic at the San Francisco Chronicle has proudly announced his allegiance to the dish. Popeye's is so widely admired by food industry folks that it's perfectly acceptable to ask, upon hearing of a new upscale fried chicken venture, "yes, but is it as good as Popeye's?" Usually, the answer's no.

Kettle sea salt and vinegar potato chips
I once thought it was just at the restaurant where I worked that staff meal consisted of bun-less hot dogs and multiple bags of Kettle salt-and-vinegar chips. Turns out the whole of chefdom is infatuated with the firm, skin-on chips, which boast a concentrated tang of vinegar and a lip-blistering amount of salt.

Diet coke

I have no idea whether Tom Colicchio drank Diet Coke before he became a company pitchman, but he would have been in good food-loving company. Chefs and writers alike - none of whom would probably tolerate the same syrupy sweetness on a restaurant plate - down countless gallons of Diet Coke while working. Many young chefs, though, prefer to get their caffeine quicker, reaching instead for Red Bull.

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Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits

Unlike every other item on this list, Red Lobster's famous biscuits are only available to folks who consent to enter the restaurant, making them somewhat less popular with reputation-guarding gourmands. But an uncanny number of franchise trash-talking sessions still end with someone saying "Have you tried those biscuits at Red Lobster?" Even foodies aren't immune to warmth and cheese.

McDonald's Egg McMuffin

If breakfast can't be freshly-milled oatmeal doused with raw organic milk and topped with just-picked strawberries, an Egg McMuffin's a darn-good second choice. Even food connoisseurs with the discipline to swear off McDonald's French fries have trouble giving up the chain's salty, oily, eggy sandwiches.

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