Today's processed food lesson: What is maltodextrin? My favorite smoked almonds have this stuff on them and I wondered what it is.
Maltodextrin is an umbrella term for a highly processed saccharide polymer derived from starch (corn, potato, rice, or less commonly, wheat). There are lots of these sugar-like things made from different starches. They are called dextrose, generically. But they can also be called things like "rice sugar" or "wheat sugar" or "corn syrup" on a label. 
Maltodextrin appears as a powder. It is absorbed in your body like glucose. If a factory takes the corn starch they would normally make corn syrup out of, and they just cook it a little less, it is maltodextrin .
Maltodextrins are classified by their "DE" or "dextrose equivalent" number. The numbers are usually between 3 and 20. A higher number means the glucose chains are shorter and the product is sweeter.
Maltodextrin can also be used as a thickener. It is on some peanut butters as a fat replacer. 
I have no information on why it's on these nuts, but here's my theory: These almonds are coated in some powdery, spicy, salty junk to make them taste delicious. I think the maltodextrin is in that mixture to make it have the right mouthfeel and to hold the spices and salt. Just my guess.
I really don't need to be eating that. I guess compared to a Twinkie, a jalapeno smoked almond is closer to "real" food, but really, wouldn't a plain almond be good too? Or just a roasted, salted almond?
 Sugar Association web page. http://www.sugar.org/consumers/sweet_by_nature.asp?id=277
 Ettlinger, Steve. 2007. Twinkie, Deconstructed. p. 64.