Thursday, July 24, 2008

The seeds are out there...

It is being described as the movie event of the year, with fevered anticipation amongst its still obsessed fanbase growing by the day. They have waited 6 years for a new chapter in the lives of Mulder and Scully, with 10 years having past since the first big-screen outing of The X-Files. Whilst I was a big a fan as any in its early season heyday, before Duchovny became disillusioned and Andersen's focus drifted to films and theatre, it was a big part of my life. I was proud to be an X-Phile.

But even as I was looking forward to the film I couldn't stop my mind drifting to one of my memories from the show...the infamous sunflower seeds so favoured by Fox 'Spooky' Mulder. Whose idea was it to make the character have a fetish for sunflower seeds and did Duchovny develop a taste for them too? It may seem like a silly question but I'm sure that it wasn't just me who picked up a packet after seeing Mulder munching on handfuls on the show. According to the EZ site (, sunflower seeds still play a part in the quirks of Mulder's character in the new movie.

According to episodes of the show Mulder picked up the habit of eating unshelled sunflower seeds from his father, who always had a reassuring bowl of them in his study. Now I've tried unshelled sunflower seeds and damn, are they tricky to eat. To begin with your salt consumption goes through the roof as you crack them in your mouth and suck off the salt at the same time. Maybe I was doing something wrong but they got caught in my teeth and were just to fiddly too bother with. The shelled sunflower seeds are perfectly edible but lack the coolness of the crunch.

Yes I did say coolness - I would like to argue that Mulder has helped to make seeds cool. They were to him what a cigar might be to other men. And make no mistake they are now viewed as a very trendy snack - I've even known people to be rather snobby over them, making a show of adding them to their trolley, spurning crisps and biscuits, and so on. You can get mixed salted seeds, mixed toasted seeds, seeds with a soy sauce, Munchy Seeds (expensive pots of flavoured seeds) and many more varieties. We are encouraged to add them to salads, sprinkle them over cereal, top desserts with them and use them in cooking to add flavour and crunch. But are they really as healthy for us as we are led to believe? The makers of Munchy Seeds, unsurprisingly, tell us they are incredibly healthy:

"Ideal for coeliacs, people with diabetes, vegetarians, vegans and those concerned with their health and nutrition.

Naturally high in Iron, Vitamin E and Zinc; gluten, Cholesterol and nut free; rich in protein and low in carbohydrates." (

So we are told that Munchy Seeds are a good source of protein, and provide much needed zinc and iron to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Just be sure to chew them well, folks!

I think that the healthiest seeds must be those that are toasted, unsalted and unflavoured, as any flavouring is bound to add quite a bit of salt to them. For example, the company's Cajun mix tub has 1.7g of salt per 100g. It should also be stressed that like nuts, seeds should be eaten in moderation as they are high in fat, 49g per 100g of the cajun mix. Although they are low in saturated fats, if you sit and eat half a tub they won't be good for you.

I must admit that one of my most pleasurable seed eating experiences was chomping on Marks and Spencers Vanilla coated pumpkin seeds, which I have no doubt contained a fair whack of sugar. However, if you buy the cheaper unflavoured or branded seeds and toast them in the oven with herbs and a little good olive oil, you won't get better in the shops.

Back to Mulder: It appears that the habit of eating sunflower seeds stems from The X-Files' creator, Chris Carter's love of the snack. As Carter is an aging hippy it begin to make sense. However, for Duchovny, Mulder's habit has been less enjoyable, as he explains in an Q&A for the new film -

"...[the sunflower seeds thing] actually comes from Chris’ habit of eating them – I myself am not a fan. But I will say that when I read this script there weren’t any sunflower seeds, so I told them to put some in. Which was surprising considering I hated having to eat them."

Okay, so we know he's not going to become the face of Munchy Seeds anytime soon! I am seeing room for a Mulder branded sunflower seed though...

If you are a fan, rest assured Mulder and his beloved seeds will be reunited in 'The X-Files: I want to believe', out on July 25th in the US and August 1st in the UK. If you aren't a fan, you're missing out. Check out The X-Files Essentials on DVD now, to get you up to speed for the film. And don't forget its sunflower seeds not popcorn!

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