What are the ingredients in Betty Crocker's chocolate cake mix? Here's what you will find inside what may be their most popular flavor, the Super Moist Devil's Food:
Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Sugar, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Corn Syrup, Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate). Contains 2% or less of: Corn Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Carob Powder, Propylene Glycol Mono and Diesters of Fatty Acids, Distilled Monoglycerides, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavor.
Is it gluten free?
No, it contains wheat. Though Betty Crocker does make gluten free mixes.
Is it vegan?
That depends how strictly you adhere to the definition. On the box's label, the allergy information for it says "may contain milk ingredients." The best guess would be that they're saying this to cover the possibility of cross-contamination at their factory during the manufacturing process. Whether the mix itself normally has milk or any type of dairy derivatives whatsoever is hard to say with 100% confidence, but it appears it doesn't. Lactylate may sound like it's related to lactose but don't worry, it's not (1). As far as the sugar, your normal white sugar gets its color from the process of charring it against the bones of livestock. So if that's unacceptable to you, then technically it's not vegan.
Is it healthy?
That would really depend on your definition. Starting with what's good for you, its ORAC value of 430 does show that it has some antioxidant activity, albeit a small amount. This probably comes mostly from the cocoa, which is a rich source of flavonoids.
That's one decent piece of good news, but in our opinion, it's still bad for you. At first glance of the nutrition facts you may see the 160 calories per serving (1/10th of the cake) and conclude that's great! You have to remember the devil is in the details, pun intended. When Betty Crocker shows that number, they're not factoring in the butter, eggs, milk, and frosting... which is responsible for the vast majority of the calories in cake. Plus even without those things, you're still getting 18 grams of sugar and 360 mg of sodium. Imagine how much those two numbers will go up once you add all the rest of the ingredients and make your cake batter!
Plus, we didn't even bring up yet all the ugly things on the label, such as partially hydrogenated oils, sodium aluminum phosphate, artificial flavor, and the list goes on...
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al. Nutrition Journal NIH Jan 2010