Just before the turn of the year, Frito-Lay unveiled a new line of "all natural" versions of their most beloved snacks, as part of a bold commitment to make half of their product line natural by the end of the year. Today the Wall Street Journal reports from the company's corporate headquarters in Texas, where engineers in a "flavor kitchen" toil on replacing artificial ingredients with natural ones. "If the ingredient isn't in a consumer's cupboard, can we get it off the label?" asks Tim Fink, director of Frito-Lay's "seasonings team." Science is struggling to answer that question, but a bigger question looms for the snack giant: If they get it off the label, will Americans buy it?

Frito-Lay already did a face plant with their biodegradable Sun Chips bag, which American consumers literally protested against because it was too loud. (Last month, the company reintroduced a supposedly quieter bag—the jury of insanely self-serving Americans is still out on that one.) Frito-Lay is convinced that a line of "natural" snacks will breathe life into their flat profits; the Journal reports that "all natural" snack sales grew an average of 14% over the past two years, compared with 4% for the snack category as a whole.

But cynics like Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, say all this "natural" talk is just lipstick on a pig. "They'll get more PR mileage out of this than any real change," Brownell told USA Today when Frito-Lay announced the initiative. "The public health consequences from consuming those foods isn't related to natural ingredients, but to high fat and high salt."

Haters gonna hate, natch. By the end of the year, Frito-Lay says half of its products, including Lay's potato chips, Tostitos and SunChips, will be made entirely with natural ingredients. Back at the lab, engineers went through 300 all-natural versions of barbecue potato chips before finding a combination that tasted "great" without MSG. The food coloring FD&C Red 40, which may cause hyperactivity in children, is also being cut from the "natural" product line. But don't worry kids, your beloved Cheetos and Doritos, marketed specially for you, won't go "natural" anytime soon, and they've got plenty of Red 40 to go around!