Make Honey Boo Boo’s ‘Sketti’ recipe healthier and for 12% less

2012-10-22T07:41:39+00:00Food, Saving|

I wanted to unsee the homemade ‘sketti’ recipe whipped together by Mama June and her 7-year-old daughter Alana, the stars of TLC’s new reality TV hit Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

For weeks I tried to pretend this likeable family livin’ on a tight $80 per week food budget didn’t really eat a microwaved ketchup and butter concoction dumped on spaghetti, calling the mess an “old family recipe”.

But no matter how hard I tried — and I really did try — I could not stop thinking about this so-called cheap recipe. Was it really that cheap for Mama June to nuke a few squirts of ketchup and call it dinner? Or is there a healthier ‘sketti’ recipe a family could enjoy and still stick to a tight budget?

Take a guess. Is it possible to cook something cheaper than Heinz on noodles?


I figured, if I could make a Starbucks Frappuccino for $0.32, create healthier Lunchables for 32% less, and stretch 1 organic chicken into 22 healthy meals for $49 bucks, then I could surly remix and squawkify Honey Boo Boo’s ‘sketti’ recipe into something tastier, healthier, and far more frugal. Right?

It all starts with a shopping list.

Recipes: Sketti vs. Squawketti

To squawkify Honey Boo Boo’s ‘sketti’ into a healthier and less expensive spaghetti dinner — which I’m calling it Squawketti — I went to Walmart for a little grocery shopping action. I figured Walmart would be a Mama June approved shoppin’ place, and I like Walmart too.

Attention Walmart Shoppers: I stuffed the cheapest spaghetti, Heinz ketchup, and margarine I could find into my shopping cart. I know Honey Boo Boo and Mama June rave about butter in their ‘sketti’, but if you watch the video clip closely, you’ll see they’re melting Country Crock margarine into their ketchup ‘sauce’. Yes, margarine. So I bought margarine to keep it real and make authentic ‘sketti’. This is serious journalism, people. SERIOUS! *cough*

Honey Boo Boo sketti ingredients

I figured a competin’ ‘sketti’ recipe would have to be made with store bought ingredients too. I don’t see Mama June growing her own herbs and tomatoes to cut costs. In my frugal world, I’d grow basil and heirloom tomatoes from saved seeds to really save money. But my world ain’t Honey Boo Boo’s, so let’s keep our Squawketti fully packaged and bought. Albeit, Squawketti does have a few fresher ingredients (basil) and foods with higher nutritional value (whole wheat pasta, tomatoes). Both recipes yield approximately 16oz (473ml) of sauce, which should feed a family.

Cookin’ Roadkill? Like Mama June, I’m a little light on fresh roadkill these days, so my spaghetti recipes are served without tire treads and deer caught in headlights. Sorry.

Honey Boo Boo’s ‘Sketti’ Recipe:

honey boo boo sketti

Sketti Ingredients:

  • ketchup: 8oz (240ml)
  • margarine: 8oz (240ml)
  • spaghetti: 1lb (454g)

honey boo boo sketti sauce

Sketti Cookin’ Instructions: Throw cooked pasta against a wall. If it sticks, that $hit is done. Dump ketchup and margarine into a plastic container. Without letting the container melt, microwave on high until ‘sauce’ melts together. Serve on pasta.

Squawketti Recipe:


Squawketti Spaghetti Ingredients:

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes: 14oz (414ml)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • whole wheat spaghetti: 1lb (454g)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • small bunch of fresh basil
  • pinch of sea salt, fresh ground pepper, chili pepper flakes

spaghetti recipe

Squawketti Preparation: Cook whole wheat spaghetti according to package instructions. In a large saucepan on medium heat add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add chopped garlic and chili flakes. Stir. When garlic browns, add basil and canned tomatoes. Turn up heat to high and stir for a minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the spaghetti and transfer it to the pan with tomato sauce and stir. Serve. A similar recipe can be found in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, or in any dang cookbook written after 1968 (except those semi-homemade recipes by Sandra Lee).

Cost and Calorie Comparison:

Shop around and you can often find lower prices on tomatoes, spaghetti, margarine, or any other ingredient. For a fair comparison, all ingredients were purchased at regular price in the same stores. My price and nutritional comparison use these serving sizes: Spaghetti 85g (3oz), Sauce: 120ml (0.5 cups).

honey boo boo sketti calories

Bottom Line: Priced at 12% more, Honey Boo Boo’s ‘sketti’ has over twice the calories, nearly nine times the fat, and almost one-third the fibre of my Squawketti recipe.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the ingredient cost breakdown. My recipe is less expensive — I squawk you not.

honey boo boo sketti cost

Bottom Line: For the same serving of food, my Squawketti spaghetti recipe is $0.09 cheaper — that’s a 12% savings — compared to Honey Boo Boo’s so-called budget ‘sketti’.

So where am I going with this?

Eating cheaply doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. Sure, you need to watch your food budget and aim to stock up on staples when they’re on sale. But adding foods with higher nutritional value and preparing more wholesome meals on a tight budget is easy if you use your dang noodle. Don’t get me started on the roadkill.



  1. Vanessa October 22, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Please tell me that you tried the ketchup sauce.

    This is the first time I’ve seen Honey Boo Boo and I’m horrified… Road kill!? Excuse me!?

  2. Kerry October 22, 2012 at 8:02 am

    @Vanessa Try the sketti ketchup sauce? As in, EAT IT? Are you mad? I could barely photograph that mess without gagging. Terrible smell. Just terrible.

  3. Dax October 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I’m not sure why Honey Boo Boo and her family even have a reality show (*that* is a huge boo-boo, in my opinion). Their show certainly get lots of coverage — especially on “The Soup” which likes to highlight the very worst in reality show offerings every week. I’m impressed that you were able to make such a great “silk purse” of that “sow’s ear” of a recipe, Kerry!

  4. Meghan October 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I saw that episode too, I hope they don’t eat it very often. Your receipe looks good and quick for a weeknight dinner.

  5. Curly-T October 22, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I don’t watch Honey Boo Boo because she annoys me – but I like your spaghetti recipe.

    However, I wouldn’t use whole grain pasta. I KNOW it is good for me and my family, i KNOW. But my husband and I also think it tastes like dirt. *Sigh* so we aim for whole grain elsewhere.
    Otherwise -thanks for the new “squawketti” recipe to try!

  6. Kerry October 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I had to re-read that when you said their sauce consisted of ketchup and butter. I even gagged a bit. The thought of ketchup as the main ingredient in spaghetti sauce was just awful! Yours looks so much more appetizing. It’s not difficult to make an inexpensive spaghetti. Even mine with store brand noodles, a can of Hunt’s spaghetti sauce, a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, a lb of lean hamburger (93/7) and a lb of italian sausage is much more appetizing than a ketchup and butter conconction. And this works out to two plus meals for my family of 3.

  7. Sheryl October 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Lol, the first time I heard of using ketchup was while watching My Name Is Earl, must be a trailer park thing. Although, if you used packets of ketchup taken from truck stops, theirs would be marginally cheaper, if you don’t count stomach ache medicine for after you’ve eanten it, or the gas and time used to “acquire” the “free”ketchup.
    Thanks for doing the comparison!!

  8. Michelle October 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

    UM WOW! That sauce sounds scary. I much prefer your recipe.

  9. Rob October 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

    The other aspect of this, in addition to the fact that you made something that is food, as opposed to noodles and yuck, is that there’s substantially less poison in yours.

    Plastic (and cheap container plastic at that) emits all sorts of nasties when microwaved. And who knows what was in the yuck that is commercial ketchup.

    Of course, the tomatoes you used leach BPA from the can liner, which is only a problem if you have a nervous system 🙂

  10. Elizabeth October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Won’t watch the show — especially not now! I love it when you do recipe comparisons, Kerry!

  11. Siobhan October 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I have never commented here before, but I just wanted to say that this has been one of my favourite Squawkfox posts in a long time.

    This blog has always been awesome at making finance fun and interesting, but I think you brought it to a whole new level with this post. Awesome!

  12. Jules October 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I want to wash my eyeballs…I mean, I understand–although I’d hesitate to do it myself–eating *fresh* roadkill (meat doesn’t get more organic than that), but butter and ketchup on spaghetti? ick. I’d rather have roadkill.

  13. Megan October 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I am guilty as charged putting ketchup in my pasta sauce, but only when I’m making it for goulash.

    Canned tomatoes
    a LITTLE ketchup (not that heapload they used)
    dried oregano, basil, thyme
    chili powder
    onion powder
    garlic powder

  14. Country Girl October 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Ugh, I can’t imagine how horrible microwaved ketchup would smell. You’re braver than I.

  15. Derek - Freeat33 October 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I once reheated an untouched grilled cheese my kids didn’t finish. I used their plate ketchup and all and stuffed it in the microwave. No Thanks…. Ketchup is meant to be cool!

  16. Daisy@Everything Finance October 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    When I saw that on Honey Boo Boo, I almost gagged. That’s pretty gross. The one that you made looks delicious though. I tend to buy diced tomatoes on sale a lot, and then I can save them for when I need them – which is often. This is actually a meal I eat frequently (your version – not the ketchup version), and it’s super cheap and easy.

  17. Wanda Zimmerman October 23, 2012 at 5:23 am

    You had me at ‘I wanted to unsee…’ I never watch TV and, through regular news links, NBC and CNN have learned of this family. Also, I saw the parody that Christopher Walken did about ‘sketti’. Hilarious. Anyway, thank you for your great blog and for being such a talented and creative writer. In addition to thinking that the TV show is awful and a form of child abuse, feeding that little girl this garbage is certainly abusive. Decades ago I looked at how much fructose syrup/sugar is in ketchup and have never eaten it again…

  18. Dax October 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Seeing Wanda’s October 23rd post, I now find myself wondering if a healthier and cheaper recipe for the ketchup condiment is possible. I would find it hard to give up ketchup on things like french fries. Would there be less fructose or syrup in a homemade ketchup recipe overall? (…To Google!)

  19. Beth October 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

    What if, instead of buying ketchup and butter/margarine, you took ketchup packets from fast food restaurants en masse and the same with the butter packets? I like to think that if you’re truly on a budget, this kind of creativity would come into play… 😛
    Also, I use this ketchup recipe and it doesn’t really taste like Heinz, but I prefer it:

  20. Tara October 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Great post – just goes to show that good eating is a matter of education and effort, not budget!

  21. Tori October 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

    @curly-t, I hear you about the whole wheat pasta tasting like dirt. I use half whole wheat and half regular pasta to make it more edible – it actually tastes good and has a little more nutrition than using just regular pasta.

    This is an awesome post, thanks Kerry!

  22. Reinita October 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I have commented before and forwarded your emails to friends because I love them. This is a great example that value comes from paying attention and giving some time to what we do. Keep doing what you do as you are doing so much of the work for us or sending us in the right direction! I love getting your email each week.

  23. Dianna October 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I love your posts, Kerry. Especially this one. I have never watched Honey Boo Boo. The advertisements for the show really turned my stomach. I would love to see more recipe comparisons / low cost meals.

  24. Laurie October 24, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I should not have read this right after eating lunch. Ketchup and margarine microwaved together and served as a spaghetti sauce? You just can’t make this stuff up.

  25. Linda October 24, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I find the whole Honey Boo Boo family irritating, so have never watched it. I used to watch TLC channel all the time back in the 80′, 90’s. I rarely put it on now. I like your recipe, sounds great and easy. Not fond of whole wheat pasta though.

  26. Peggy October 24, 2012 at 8:50 am

    For @curly-t, there is a catelli product called Smart Pasta that has the goodness of whole wheat without the “dirt’ and appearance of ww. The texture is like the white pasta which works well for my ‘dirt’ adverse family!

  27. Laurie October 24, 2012 at 8:59 am

    So gross and so stuck in my head now. I am so glad I only need to un-see this and I don’t have to un-smell it, or worse, un-taste it.

  28. Patricia October 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

    OMG! ketchup and margarine as a sauce?! This make me sick!!! I’ve just finished my spaghetti- I really love that food- and although I’m also on tight budget(and have a little time) I used tomato juice, garlic, some oil,salt and pepper.
    Kerry you rock with this post!
    (sorry for mistakes- I’m still learning English ;-))

  29. Crystal October 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    It’s amazing what tastes good when you’re hungry and have limited resources.

  30. anexactinglife October 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Just for argument’s sake, if Honey Boo Boo and family reduce their dinner calories from 807 to 367, will they be able to buy other nutritious food to fill up on for the rest of the day? An adult eating 2000 calories a day could be eating 500 calories per meal and another 500 in snacks.

    No fear, I will not be eating ketchup and margarine sauce any time soon 🙂

  31. Yeshanu October 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    @anexactinglife: I didn’t actually watch the video, but the part of it I can see tells me that total caloric intake isn’t a problem in this family, but nutrition probably is.

    I’m not a big pasta eater–I might eat it once a month because others in the family like it, but I’m going to try this recipe. My autistic son will eat it, and it looks more nutritious than the canned pasta sauce he normally eats. I might “bump it up” with more veggies though. 🙂

  32. Cheri October 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    It certainly looks like a great recipe but I could live without knowing you ever watched honey boo boo.

  33. Kerry October 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    @Cheri I don’t have cable. The ‘Making Sketti’ clip went viral, and several friends sent it to me online.

  34. Maggioe October 25, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Maybe, just maybe, they like the taste and mouth feel of ketchup/country crock sauce. And it’s a lot easier than remembering to buy ingredients and use them. I imagine mama boo boo always has a huge bottle of ketchup and a large container of margarine in the fridge. Lazy or stupid are not excuses for poor nutrition. And I’m pretty sure June is not stupid if she can turn her chubby daughter into a TV personality.

  35. Daniella Ivette October 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Kerry, I’m guilty as charged for using ketchup in pasta. With a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, thank-you very much! (if I’m in a hurry).

    Here in Venezuela people often mix ketchup and deviled ham spread for pasta and rice (icky, I know!)

    But I adore your recipe, I will definitively try it.

  36. Jasa,Horton November 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I made “Honey Boo Boo Skettii” for my little sister and I for lunch and its DELICIOUS !!! I love it ! Ya`ll needa try some good ole cooken instead of that fancy shit !

  37. Sandra November 20, 2012 at 3:59 am

    @ Jasa

    There’s nothing fancy about canned tomatoes. The canned tomato recipe is more good old cooking than ‘cooking’ with ketchup, that sketti is just junkfood. No wonder Honey Boo Boo’s mother has poor eyesight, she is malnourished, they all are.

  38. Taraz November 21, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Wouldn’t it be even cheaper to just buy canned pasta sauce? That way you’re not shelling out extra for fresh basil.

  39. […] loved this post by Kerry as it proves eating health doesn’t have to be […]

  40. Riley November 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Sure your cost per serving is less, but what about initial cost? How much did you spend TOTAL on your ingredients vs. on theirs? A container of chili flakes is what? $2-$5 depending on brand. Cheap olive oil roughly $6 a bottle? The initial cost of $8 is hard to swallow when you are on a tight budget like they are. Sometimes the initial cost is a determining factor for those on a tight budget.

    I get where you are coming from, and it’s a totally worthy comparison, but sometimes we forget just how important the initial cost is compared to the “per serving” cost for those on a tight budget.

  41. Rasim November 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I haven’t read all of the posts, and am not really trying to throw stones, but it doesn’t seem that anyone addresses a real problem in that the “sketti” girls are large girls, and although there may be some medical predispositions, the diet and manner in which they eat is contributing to their obesity…which is at epidemic proportions in the US these days.

  42. Kelli December 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Another factor to take into account is extreme couponing. Name brand products have the most coupons and with that stockpile they have in their “dining room” she probably paid a lot less.

    Not defending sketti by any means though. That s**t looks nasty. Anyone with a little cooking skill can throw together a halfway decent meal for not very much money.

  43. sandy January 2, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I was flipping through channels when I saw the airing of this so called “sketti” I was pretty grossed out by the whole thing. I told my husband I thought I heard my arteries slam shut! I would think that making all this $$ would afford for all the kids to eat a well balanced healthy diet–guess not. I would suggest lowering the carb intake though–but I am not their judge-to each his/her own.

  44. Tam January 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Watching this video and thinking about my college years…even then…never though to ketchup. Yuck! I was the typical college student who was broke but I would buy pasta and tomato sauce and paste and even hamburger helper (really not bad without the meat…really!). My favorite recipe…cheap as hell…was a packet of spaghetti (cooked accordingly) with a sauce made of one can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, a teaspoon of sugar (to cancel out the acidity), and two teaspoons of italian seasoning (bought for $1 at any dollar store) and a dash of garlic salt (bought at the same dollar store). Brought to a boil and simmered while the noodles cooked…it was pretty fantastic and literally under $4 to make…and could feel quite a few hungry college students!

  45. Joe January 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I wonder how sketti stacks up against Chef Boyardee products. I always thought the sauce for Spaghettio’s and Raviolio’s tasted like ketchup.

  46. leda February 6, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    @Riley Yes, that jumped out at me too. If you’re on a tight budget and you have to buy high cost (and no coupons) items up front – that may be preventative. It’s not really fair to parse out a serving of something you have to spend a lot of money to have in your pantry and call that “cost per use” the cost. I mean truffle oil isn’t very expensive if I could buy just what I need for that one recipe I’d use it in (but still pay the bulk price per unit price for it) – maybe half a dollar or so. But I can’t justify the initial cost of even a tiny $15+ bottle of oil in my food budget let alone some giant bulk-sized bottle of truffle oil that would bring the cost per use down to a more palatable level.

  47. nicki williams February 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I think that honey boo boo’s recipe is delightful and very tasty

  48. Stu June 11, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Great comparison, proving you don’t need to eat rubbish to eat cheaply.
    I’m actually stunned that those people can live off that mess.
    Surly they are making a ton of cash now to be able to eat properly.

  49. Becky June 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

    To play Devil’s advocate, Honey’s “food” has more calories which means that her meal costs less to survive. However! I’m not saying her’s is more nutritious than yours because yours definitely has the vitamin quality that we all need to thrive. There’s a time and a place for a high caloric intake; although, her situation doesn’t seem like the time or the place. But, I wouldn’t hold it against a family who needed the high calories to survive to turn to butter. It just depends in what your needs are.

    As for the road kill? It really depends on how long it’s been dead. If she’s the one that ran it over, take it home and eat it! If not, then it’s a matter of personal decision to determine if your life depends on it — weighing the risk of getting seriously ill from eating decaying carcass vs. dying from passing up a possible meal.

    While I might not agree with some of Honey’s choices, I do think the comments here are a little harsh because there is going to be someone in that situation. Do you think a starving child in Africa is going to pass up a meal of spaghetti and ketchup/butter? Not a chance.

  50. Nicole July 18, 2013 at 12:49 am

    My god, the way you criticize these people makes me wanna throw up! I mean I’m sure they can afford a healthier meal but to be honest the reason they have their tv show is because there “redneck” lifestyle and they’re giving the media what they want. But their are actually families out there with a really tight budget and several children. I’m not one of them but I grew up with a single mom with 3 kids and we shared a house with a family. I don’t know where you’re buying your groceries from but you’re obviously not doing it from their original price. You’re just basing the cost from the amount you used. People can’t usually buy it like that. Also, I lived in a small town in Virginia and the closest grocery store was 30 minutes away. It was easier to walk to the little gas mart a couple blocks down with canned goods. Not everybody has the benefit of having fresh produce nearby. Also what’s wrong with eating roadkill? It’s free and it’s out there. Just make sure you don’t get it once there’s maggots on it or something. I’ve never eaten roadkill but to criticize someone for doing so is gross to me. It makes you seem stuck up. I recognize this sketti meal is extremely unhealthy but the way you talk about these people hurt because there are actual families in situations were they survive on less in a week. The reality is fresher and health food is usually much more expensive then canned/processed food. Even at the food bank where we received helped gave us canned food because it is cheaper. This just shows how quick it is to criticize people instead of being considerate of their circumstances and how a lot of this has to do with social issue and how healthier food has to be more accessible and affordable to those less fortunate.

  51. Ron Smyth August 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I just found your website because I heard of this revolting recipe and wanted to see the video — and you popped up first! I learned to cook on the cheap in the early 70s when my room mate and I had $7/week to live on. Plenty of chicken necks and backs for soups, delicious and really really cheap smelts (fried), vegetables from the market at the end of the day, etc. I have no more money worries but I still don’t waste food or eat crap. However, in defence of ketchup, I keep a bottle on hand because it is basically a sweet and sour sauce that you can use in small quantities in all sorts of recipes, and is often used in quick homemade Chinese food. I’m a university professor and am astounded at the fact that our students say they can’t afford to eat on the student loans they get. On student said “Do you have any idea what a wrap costs at the restaurant across the street?”. To which I replied “Do you have any idea how to make a delicious sandwich for a dollar?”.

  52. Eliza August 22, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Late to the party and maybe it’s already been mentioned, but your cost is per serving. I’d like to see the cost for the TOTAL amount of ingredients. It’s hard to tell the package sizes from the pictures, but it looks like the Sketti ingredients could make more servings than the Squawketti.
    Also: 807 calories with 50 grams of fat will make you feel fuller a lot longer than 367 calories and 5.7 grams of fat. That means you’ll probably want to eat again sooner.

  53. Timothy October 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    “It’s been a while since I done had roadkill in my belly.” I cannot believe that anybody would watch this show for real. You could not pay me to watch an entire episode of these inbred neanderthals. Did that little girl just call her father Sugar Bear? Ha ha ha, I am completely astonished at what I just watched….sketti and butter LMFAO!

  54. Olivia December 26, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I used to eat sketti when I was a kid, and it was good. I still think it tastes good. I can cook a mean fresh tomato pasta (or from canned tomatoes) now, too. Try adding a squirt of honey in your sauce. Judging by your recipe, that sauce is probably just a bit bitter. You need to add a bit of sweetness to improve the flavor of canned tomatoes. And there’s no shame in sketti.

  55. Karen March 1, 2015 at 2:00 am

    I have seen other needy people eat worse. Example bacon fat or lard and salt on toasted bread. Not that I am defending sketti but I have also worked at a food bank handing out food packages and have come to understand that many people cannot cook from scratch and have little or no understanding of nutrition. That is the school systems fault. I pulled my diabetic grandson from foods class in B.C. because all they were learning was how to make muffins,squares and loaves that were not whole wheat and loaded with sugar and fat. When I took home economics in Ontario in the 1970’s I was taught what foods contained what vitamins and minerals and balanced menus as well as budget shopping. We learned to bake bisquits,breads,soups and family dinners and desserts using fruits. My Grandmother was an institutional cook in hospitals and showed me a little on special diets. Many people also do not know portions or substitutes for missing ingredients. When I married my husband his mother came from a project housing in England and had never eaten squash and many other common vegetables. She told me most of the protein she had as a child was bangers(sausage) or eggs. Poverty can really limit life in the city. Teach don’t judge. By the way my husband loves squash with nutmeg and cinnamon and butter oven roasted.

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