Tag Archives: advertising

Stevia: Is it really an all-natural sugar substitute?

sweetener timeline via the New York Sun

What’s the story with stevia?
A few years ago we had never hear of the stuff, and all of a sudden it’s in everything— sodas, juice drinks, yogurt, and of course those little green and white packets of Truvia and PureVia that are already outselling pink-packeted Sweet-n-Low and baby-blue Equal. Supermarkets can’t restock it fast enough, and coffee bars have taken to keeping it behind the register because it has a habit of disappearing by the hand-full.

The big driver behind stevia’s growth is its position as a natural alternative to aspartame, saccharin and other chemically derived sweeteners. Fans of stevia say that its taste is closer to sugar than other sugar substitutes. It pours out of the packet in convincing crystal-like granules, not in a powder, and when it’s sprinkled on top of cereal it crunches like sugar crystals. It even has a sweet cupcake icing kind of smell. But is it as natural as its marketers claim?

‘Natural’ is a largely unregulated word.
But it’s one that casts a powerful spell over consumers. Stevia is itself a plant. It’s a member of the chrysanthemum family that’s native to Paraguay where the potent leaves have been flavoring food and drink for centuries. Stevia leaves are a high intensity sweetener with sweetening power estimated to be three hundred times more concentrated than table sugar. It’s calorie-free and has a glycemic index approaching zero making it safe for diabetics. The exchange-traded agribusiness concern Stevia Corp refers to it as “the holy grail of sweeteners.”

But stevia leaves aren’t what’s ending up in sweetener packets.
It’s a curious coincidence that both Truvia (a Cargill/Coca Cola partnership) and PureVia (from the Pepsi folks) use the same analogy and nearly identical language to explain stevia manufacturing. Both refer to it as much like making tea in which dried leaves are steeped in water to release the flavor. In fact Coca Cola’s patent application for Truvia identifies more than 40 steps in the process and includes acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, isopropanol, and erythritol—a mouthful of ingredients that includes chemical solvents, flammable liquid fuels, and numerous substances derived from genetically modified corn.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I make my tea.

You can buy truly natural stevia. There are organic suppliers of whole and powdered leaves, and the branded product Stevia in the Raw is a processed form but without the corn-based additives. In it’s pure form stevia is a powerful sweetener but with a hint of a bitter licorice aftertaste that all the processing and additives seek to mask. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t taste like sugar.



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The Yin and the Yang of Twitter Hashtags

cursing twitter via ClaudiaChez

Fast food restaurants are working the Twitter hashtags.
For the non-twitterers out there, hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash (#) symbol. They’re used to organize tweets into a topic or dialogue, and make them searchable. The hottest hashtags appear as trending topics on the right side of Twitter’s homepage, the most coveted spot in the twitterverse, seen by millions of users. This happens organically when a newsworthy event dominates the conversation, like #JapanEarthquake or #JustinBieberHaircut, but last year Twitter started selling spots on the list. About $120,000 buys a promoted trend, and everyone from Al Jazeera (#ArabSpring) to Starbucks (#Starbucks) has sponsored a hashtag and promoted it as a trending topic.

Fast food restaurants are drawn to Twitter.
It’s an inexpensive and immediate way to create a buzz and promote a menu special. It builds customer engagement and loyalty. At its best Twitter creates powerful word-of-mouth messaging; at its worst, well, it also creates powerful word-of-mouth messaging.

Twitter campaigns gone wild.
McDonald’s began promoting the sponsored hashtag #McDStories last week with the idea of getting people talking about their experiences with the fast food giant. The company started the conversation with a few innocuous tweets:  Meet some of the hard-working people dedicated to providing McDs with quality food every day and When u make something w/pride, people can taste it. As hoped, people shared their #McDStories by the thousands. There were stories about diabetes and diarrhea, a video posted of a mouse working its way through a bag of hamburger buns, and a heated back-and-forth with PETA over the inhumane use of mechanically-separated chickens. Apparently some McDStories are better left untold.

Wendy’s had a similar experience with a Twitter campaign built around its 25-year old TV commercial with the little old lady crying out “Where’s the Beef?  When the chain promoted its hashtag #HerestheBeef, plenty of users responded with their pornographic versions of Here it is! and another segment responded with less bawdy but equally graphic imagery of cruelly penned, industrially-raised livestock. Come on Wendy’s, #HeresTheBeef, on a Meatless Monday, no less? Some might say you got what was coming to you.

Hardly isolated incidents, we’ve seen plenty of fast food twittering gone awry. There have been some obvious missteps: Subway, not exactly known for its down-home cookin’ was derided for its hashtag #SUBWAYAllStarBBQ; and Taco Bell was justifiably slammed for its utterly offensive tweet on Martin Luther King Day asking Have you ever dreamed of eating @Taco Bell and then woke up and made that dream come true?

It’s an axiom of marketing that customers share bad experiences far more often than they praise the good ones- consumer research has shown that bad:good ratio to be 5 to 1. When a customer shares online, you can multiply those numbers by their Twitter followers, and the followers’ followers, and the followers’ followers’ followers….
Between their own tweeted gaffes and hashtags that are hijacked by disgruntled customers, companies are powerless to control their promotional narratives.
Maybe fast food restaurants should just lay off the Twitter hashtags.



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Girly Beer

image via Philly.TheDrinkNation

Pink is for girls, y’know.
That’s why the beer industry is using it to sell beer to women. After years of disenfranching and objectifying women, it’s time for a little condescension.
Ladies, cue the squeals of delight and air kisses because this one’s for you.

Molson Coors Animée: the bloat-resistant beer

Mhttp://www.beer-pages.com/stories/news/images/animee.jpgolson Coors is pre-tty pleased with themselves for this one. Bloat resistance is just one of its charms. According to the company’s press office, Animée is “lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste [and an] unexpectedly sophisticated appearance.” That translates from PR flack-speak as fruity flavors and pastel hues. Instead of 6-packs, Animée is sold in lighter, daintier 4-packs. Animée was launched in the U.K. in late 2011 with a big bucks promotion, and we can hardly wait for its appearance on our shores cause, you know, we hate to bloat too.

Heineken’s Jillz: “Fresh and exciting. Just like you.” Uh huh.


Heineken’s entry, also thoughtfully sold in 4-packs, is Jillz (with a Z; the original name of Charli with an I was withdrawn when the company realized that is a nickname for cocaine) a sweet beer and apple cider hybrid that would never be confused with either of the two beverages. Type your name into the online Jillz Datemaker and a buff and shirtless bartender will personally invite you to ‘Come bite my apple.’


Is that really beer? I mistook it for a hip stylish purse.


Finally a beer that matches your slingback sandals. The Chick Beer website explains: “The bottle is designed to reflect the beautiful shape of a woman in a little black dress. The six-pack looks like you are carrying your beer in a hip stylish purse. Chick’s unique reflective bottle blings you up! It’s fun, fabulous, and female!”



…and the lady in the bold Pucci print will have a Carlsberg.


http://i.huffpost.com/gen/280219/thumbs/s-CARLSBERG-COPENHAGEN-BEER-large300.jpgIn the beginning, there was Eve.
Introduced in 2006, Eve’s Press Kit asks that its girly flavors (litchee, passionfruit) be served in girly glasses (flutes) at suitably girly occasions (“where women meet and socialize in company with their best friends.”) But what about those situations when you want a real beer in a real bottle and darn it, none of them look good with your outfit? It happens to women all the time, according to  Carlsberg’s International Innovation Director: “There may be situations where they are standing in a bar and want their drinks to match their style. In this case, they may well reject a beer if the design does not appeal to them.” Thank goodness Carlsberg’s new Copen♥hagen (the heart is silent) is on the scene to rescue us with its tasteful, go-with-everything bottle.


Is anyone surprised by the missteps?
Beer marketing has a long and shameful testosterone-drench history. The industry has always flogged its products with sexist, dude-centric imagery like sports figures, cowboys, rappers, farm animals, physical labor, and above all frat-boy humor. These clumsy, condescending, pink and fizzy attempts to appeal to women are about what we expected.

Half the market is still waiting for their beer.



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Masquerading as Blueberries

Blue Man Group image via John Mottern

There are no blueberries in Betty Crocker Blueberry Muffins.
You won’t find any in Blueberry Pop-Tarts or Special K Blueberry Fruit Crisps either, and Total Pomegranate Blueberry Cereal is missing the blueberries and the pomegranate.

Instead of real blueberries, some manufacturers create little berry-shaped clumps of various sugars, starches, gums, and oils, and coat them with (often petroleum-based) blue food dye. They’re usually labeled as blueberry-flavored bits or particles. For its Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal, Kellogg’s concocted an entirely new food classification, identified in the ingredient list as crunchlets.

The labels don’t lie.
Food marketers have gotten away with the blueberry bait-and-switch by complying with FDA nutrition labeling requirements. The box can be decorated with lush photography of plump berries, and the product’s name can trumpet berry goodness—it never needs to cross paths with an actual berry as long as the dirty details are all revealed in the fine print of the packaging.

The labels might not lie, but they sure do skirt the truth.
The consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest plans to put an end to these dishonest and deceptive practices. Attorneys from the CSPI have filed a complaint in federal court against General Mills, one of the biggest practitioners of this form of marketing. The complaint contends that General Mills misleads the public about the healthfulness of its products when it depicts fruits that they don’t contain, and in doing so, the company  violates various state laws governing deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices.

You can follow the lawsuit’s developments on the Center for Science in the Public Interest website.

The attorneys from the law firm Finkelstein Thompson are seeking public input from consumers who may have been misled by these products. If you purchased any products that you believed were made from real blueberries but actually contained derivatives or no blueberries, you can contact them about joining the class action—they expect potential plaintiffs to number in the millions.
[email to contact@finkelsteinthompson.com]




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Today’s history class is brought to you by Doritos

“The best-selling packaged cookie in the world is the Oreo cookie. The diameter of an Oreo cookie is 1.75 inches. Express the diameter of an Oreo cookie as a fraction in the simplest form.”

You’re looking at middle-school math.
The worksheet comes from a a sixth-grade curriculum in wide use across more than a dozen states. Another lesson on research methods asks the kids to design an experiment that allows them to prove that there are 1,000 chocolate chips in the large package of Chips Ahoy! cookies, and in the geometry unit, surface area is calculated using a box of Kellogg’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes.

We’ve recently increased awareness and toughened school nutrition standards. Cookies, candy, and chips are out, and schools are being pressured to turn down the million-dollar soft drink product placement contracts they were jumping at a few years ago. These changes have left school districts looking for new sources of income, and junk food marketers looking for a new ‘in’ with school-age kids. Both groups have found what they need in the classroom.

It’s called Sponsored Educational Materials, and it can be anything from branded assignment books and textbook covers to an entire course curriculum. While we might cringe at the sight of obesity-prone schoolchildren toting school supplies plastered with Pop-Tarts logos, the sponsored curricula are truly chilling. Companies like Kraft and Burger King hire educational consultants to create teaching materials that will further their corporate interests while adhering to national standards. First graders are color-sorting M&Ms and counting Tootsie Rolls, elementary art classes are decorating push-up tubes for Nestle Push-Up Ice Cream, and students in high school business skills courses learn how a McDonald’s franchise operates. And a special ‘A’ for irony has to go to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for curricular programs like Coke’s Step With It! and Pepsi’s Balance First, that dominate middle school instruction in health and physical education.

To learn more about advertising cloaked as teaching aides, visit The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, a group that is advocating for government policies to limit marketers’ access to children. Earlier this year, the CCFC set its sights on a blatant piece of propaganda titled ‘The United States of Energy,’ a lesson packet used nationally in sixth-grade classrooms. Sponsored by the American Coal Foundation, it was a less than fair and balanced assessment of our nation’s energy sources that failed to mention any of coal’s negative impacts on the environment and public health. The CFCC organized a successful letter-writing campaign to remove the material from classrooms. The group hopes to repeat that success as it goes after junk food marketing.


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Food Stylists: Dirty Tricks of the Trade

It was the scandal that rocked the vegetarian world.
Vegetarian lifestyle magazine VegNews admitted that it routinely ran photographs of meat-based dishes to illustrate its meatless recipes. Examples included pseudo-vegan ice cream made from actual cream, beef frankfurters posing as their vegan counterparts, and pork ribs with the bones airbrushed away to look like a soy substitute. Bear in mind that these were stock photos used for budgetary reasons, and that no animal products touched the VegNews test kitchen. Still, readers were outraged, immediately offering up their online condemnation. They called it hypocrisy of the highest order, a betrayal of their trust, a show of contempt springing from deliberate and systematic deceit.

Food journalists, though, mostly responded with a collective shrug.
Food is, for the most part, supremely unphotogenic. It’s the law of nature that frozen will melt, crisp will wilt, and moist becomes dry. Food stylists have always relied on an arsenal of inedible ingredients and unsavory techniques to get the money shot, in the same way that celebrity stylists enhance their clients with hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras.

Take roasted chicken. If you make it at home, you know that the flesh shrinks and the skin wrinkles and deflates as it roasts, but in the pages of food magazines it always appears plump with taut, evenly browned skin.  That’s because the picture-perfect chicken has been stuffed with materials like cotton balls and paper towels, its skin was sewn tightly together, and it was roasted just long enough to give it a little texture. Then, still raw on the inside, it’s sprayed with a soap-based mixture and blasted with a blowtorch to achieve the ideal, deep golden-brown color. Bon appetit!

Here are some other tricks of the trade:

  • motor oil substitutes for pancake syrup, and the pancakes are treated with water repellent fabric spray to keep the ‘syrup’ from soaking in
  • barbecued meats are colored and glossed with wood stain, and grill marks are drawn on with eyeliner
  • nuts are fixed in place with super glue, and berries get touched up with lipstick
  • Elmer’s glue is a stunt double for pouring milk; stick a straw in a glass of whipped Crisco and you’ll swear it’s a milkshake
  • aerosol deodorant gives fruit a just-picked look
  • cotton balls, soaked and microwaved, provide the steam for ‘steaming hot’ soup
  • hairspray gives new life to a dried out slice of cake
  • brown shoe polish is applied to raw meat for a crusty, ‘well-roasted’ surface
  • hamburger patties are propped up with cardboard so they don’t sink into the perfect frill of lettuce atop the fluffy bun

There are purists out there who only use the real thing, and if the photographs are destined for advertising, the governing laws dictate that the food product that is the campaign’s subject must be the authentic item, although alterations and enhancements are perfectly kosher. The public should understand that commercialized food imagery is a hyper-idealized version of reality. It’s been gussied for its magazine appearance like a movie star that’s styled for the red carpet.

Like stars without their makeup
Ultimately, we gladly turn to our home-roasted chicken—homely and imperfect, but perfectly delicious. In the same way, we know that our romantic partners are not Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, but we are no less satisfied.



Posted in food business | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Attack of the Belly Fat Ads

They’re the ads that ate the internet.
You know the ones—crudely drawn, often animated, with cellulite deflating and re-inflating above the waistline of a pair of too-tight jeans, in a never-ending before-and-after of fat to fit to fat to fit. The headline, looking to be hand-lettered, touts a simple, unnamed tip to trim the fat.

To say you know the ads is an understatement. The ads are so ubiquitous that you’ve likely seen them hundreds or even thousands of times. Their sponsors are clients of half of all the ad networks in the U.S., running on the homepages of powerhouse websites like Facebook, CNN, and the Washington Post. They’ve appeared tens of billions of times as banner ads and popups. You read that right—billions, with a b.

The Federal Trade Commission is going after the perpetrators of a hustle.
The FTC has asked federal courts to halt the belly fat ads and freeze the operators’ assets, alleging that the ads are the leading edge of a vast and elaborate con built on false claims and deceptive practices.

Click on the ad looking for a homespun diet tip and you’re taken to a second site. This one looks like news coverage of a reporter’s investigation into the health benefits of diet supplements. The faux news report, named something like Weekly Health News or Health News Beat, typically investigates diet pills made from mangoes or acai berries, or from the human hormone hCG. It might include the names and logos of major networks and news outlets, and because the ads run on their websites, the reporter will falsely represent that the networks have run the news report.

The fake reporting has suckered millions of people into giving up their credit card numbers to obtain ‘free’ samples. It turns out to be not so free when the initial orders obligate them to a stream of $79.99 shipments. There’s a toll-free number for cancellations, and the tens of thousands of people who have filed complaints after their calls went unanswered will be happy to tell you about that one.

We keep seeing the ads because they work. So far, these unsavory businesses have raked in more than a billion dollars in sales—again, that’s billion with a b.

Read about the 10 legal challenges filed by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has also posted a consumer alert to warn the public about the proliferation of deceptive claims and fake news sites that pedal weight loss aids.


Posted in cyberculture, health + diet | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Coca-Cola Turns 125

Enduring American symbol.
Triumph of manufacturing, sanitation, and distribution.
Drunk by Presidents from Grover Cleveland to Barack Obama.
Inspiration for pop culture references, science experiments, and urban legends.
Ensconced in the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the Museum of Modern Art, and countless millennial time capsules.
The world’s number 1 brand.
Happy Birthday, Coca-Cola!

Without a Coca-Cola life is unthinkable.

Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life’s most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it.

Lewis Grizzard, columnist, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If it moves sponsor it, if it doesn’t paint it red.

advertising mantra, The Coca-Cola Company



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Fake Beef in Taco Ball Tacos. Why all the fuss?

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Taco Bell misleads its customers.

The lawsuit challenges Taco Bell’s practice of representing to consumers, on menus and in advertisements, that its restaurants serve beef-filled tacos and burritos. The lawsuit seeks to require Taco Bell to properly advertise and label food items, and to engage in a corrective advertising campaign to educate the public about what’s really in its food.

It seems that the filling in Taco Bell tacos and burritos contains just 36% beef, falling too far below the USDA definition to call itself ‘beef.’ According to the lawsuit, the other 64% of the filling is rounded out with water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate, and seasonings. […]

Posted in fast food, food trends | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The Sweetener Formerly Known As…


It worked for Prince.

By now you’ve probably heard about the public relations disaster that is the sweetener formerly known as high fructose corn syrup.
After years of waging a losing battle to convince the American public that HFCS is not really so bad, the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the FDA for an ‘alternative labeling declaration,’ preferring the more natural-sounding moniker ‘corn sugar.’

Name changes are a common practice in today’s marketplace .
When a name—for one reason or another—just isn’t working, the strategy is to regroup, rebrand, and relaunch. We’ve seen it in the corporate world: who even remembers that AirTran was once ValuJet, an airline best known for safety violations and fatalities? Philip Morris hoped to distance itself from tobacco when it became Altria; the Nashville Network added CSI reruns to its low-rent lineup and reinvented itself as Spike TV; and then there is Sean Combs, patron saint of name changes, aka Puff Daddy, er Puffy, I mean P. Diddy, or is that just plain Diddy?

The food world has a long history of name changing.
Consumer tastes, diets, perceptions, and health concerns are constantly shifting, and food names and brands have had to be especially mutable to survive.

How Sweet it Was.

http://www.blatherwincerepeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/sugar-crisp-a.jpg http://www.comicbooknoise.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/spock-sugar-smacks.jpg http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_XU9x8G7khv0/S4vh_DsAnFI/AAAAAAAANV4/ehWkeDgtkNs/s400/sugar+sparkled+flakes.jpghttp://theimaginaryworld.com/box203.jpghttp://www.12ozprophet.com/images/uploads/sugarpopspete.jpg […]

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25 Top Selling Candies: Is your favorite on the list?

Top-Selling Sweets
We are undeniably candy traditionalists. While new confections are introduced at a rate of around 2,000 each year, the average age of the top 25 candies sold in this country is 50 years.
And who knew we chewed so much gum?

#25 Ice Breakers have been a consistent top seller since first making a splash with their distinctive two-door hockey puck packaging.

The Orbit brand made its first appearance as a replacement during WWII when Wrigley shipped all its Juicy Fruit, Spearmint, and Doublemint gum to the troops. Discontinued after the war, it was brought back in 2001. #24 Orbit White, the tooth-whitening version, was an instant hit. […]

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Lickable Ads + Cards: even better than scratch-and-sniff!


It’s tough out there in the 21st century. What’s a magazine to do? The internet is running circles around print. And greeting cards? How can they compete against e-cards with their music and animation?

Welcome to the world of sensory marketing.

For years perfume and cologne companies have been using scented strips to introducing customers to their fragrances. Scratch-and-sniff advertising had a burst of popularity in the late 1970’s. Now peel-and-lick lickvertising is having its moment. […]

Posted in diversions | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Stemming the Flow of Red Ink: Publishers’ wine clubs


The Wall Street Journal has one. And the New York Times. Playboy Magazine too.

We’re talking about wine clubs; the newest revenue stream for struggling publishers.
Readership is down. Advertising is going the way of the web. Online content has been resistant to monetization.

What’s a news organization to do?

Newspapers and magazines have turned to selling wine as a new way of generating revenue from readers. There’s nothing new about the business model. Classified ads were the traditional way for publishers to take advantage of the communities they created. With subscriptions dwindling and the advent of free Craigslist classifieds, a diverse group of publishers has applied the same principles to wine clubs. […]

Posted in home delivery, media, shopping | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Government Gets 2 Million Fortune Cookies


No, it wasn’t one hell of a takeout order.

The cookies are part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s effort to reach various ethnic populations. The Bureau ordered two million custom cookies from a fortune cookie factory in Seattle’s Chinatown. Crack one open and the fortune reads Put down your chopsticks and get involved in Census 2010, or one of the other four messages exhorting us to fill out and return our census forms. The cookies will be available this spring in Chinese restaurants throughout the Northwest. […]

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Burgernomics: the Big Mac index

image via The Economist

The smart money is betting against the Euro.

Yes, there’s trouble with Greece and interest rates are low and there’s too much debt. But there’s another reason to be pessimistic: have you seen the price of a Big Mac?

A Big Mac is a Big Mac wherever you go. Same sesame seed bun, same special sauce, same double beef patties. Comprised of the same tradeable goods and non-tradeable services worldwide it should, in theory, cost the same wherever you go.

The theory of burger-buying parity is tested in The Economist’s Big Mac Index. The index demonstrates the purchasing power of consumers around the globe by converting the world’s currencies to a hamburger standard. The fair-value benchmark– the point where there is purchasing parity between the nations– is the exchange rate that has every consumer world-wide paying the same price for a Big Mac (The Economist looks at that price in dollars). Paying more than the benchmark price for a Big Mac? You live in a country with an over-valued currency. […]

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Going for the Gold with a Pitstop at the Golden Arches

 Ketchup + Mayo Ronald courtesy of Magnús Elvar Jónsson
Years of training, commitment, and sacrifice have brought them to this singular moment.

The Olympic Village in Vancouver has opened its gates to play host to thousands of the world’s elite athletes.
They are toned, muscular, and disciplined; thoroughbreds, every last one of them.
Obviously the athletes receive an exceptionally pure and high quality diet to maintain peak conditioning and fuel Olympic-caliber performances. Obviously, right? […]
Posted in Health, media | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Food Porn: Look, but don’t touch!


“It is a matter of physics, a scientific fact that the human body reacts in very similar ways when anticipating food and sex. Capillaries swell, lips and membranes become engorged, saliva thickens and the pulse rises. It’s no accident that the two pleasures have become… confused.”

Anthony Bourdain,  No Reservations


What’s Your Food Porn Preference?

Fat or skinny. Exotic or plain. Enhanced or au naturel.

Food Porn and the x-rated variety make use of the same visual language and techniques, full of provocative camera angles, exaggerated features, and saturated colors. The subject matters differ, but they push our primal buttons in the same way.

Lust-inducing, visceral images of food porn are everywhere. It’s the lingering, loving shots of decadent burgers in fast food advertising. It’s the food-centric shows on television, which long gave up on practical instruction to focus on feats of performance and visual spectacle.

The fetishists are all represented: the raw foodists, the bacon-worshipers, the cupcake-lovers, the kink of butchery, the puritanical vegans, and plenty of plain vanilla.

Does Food Porn Make us Fat?

Jam-glazed pears glisten atop butter-brown pastry; golden rivulets of herb-flecked butter overflow the pillowy center of a steamy biscuit; deeply charred fat surrounds the just-grilled steak sliced to reveal its ruby interior. We understand that the imagery of food porn is a hyper-idealized version of what we go home to in the same way that we know that our romantic partners are not Penelope Cruz or Brad Pitt. And just like the bedroom variety, culinary porn is about voyeurism— the daring, exotic, and extreme may be watched by many but practiced by few.

Evidence suggests that tempting food imagery might actually serve as a deterrent to indulgence. New Scientist cited a study in which weight-conscious women were shown images of either food or flowers (under the guise of a memory test). When the women were offered a snack, those who had been shown a lushly-photographed chocolate cake were significantly more likely to opt for a healthy option than the flower group. As counterintuitive as it seems, researchers believe that tempting food images can actually heighten self-control in a dieter, strengthening their resolve to make healthy choices.

Food porn: you know it when you see it!

Go ahead and take a peek:

Flickr has a vast repository of more than 300,000 photos submitted by members of its food porn group.

The blogs Tastespotting, FoodGawker, and FoodPornDaily are curated collections of user-submitted food photography.

The Tumblr blog This Is Why You’re Fat celebrates the fatty, cheesy, greasy, meaty, and over-sized. Destined for glory, it dazzled the online food community by reaching 1.3 million page views on the day after its launch. The inevitable book deal took a few more weeks.

Midtown Lunch started by cataloging the inexpensive options available to midtown Manhattan’s rabid, ravenous office workers with no more than a lunch hour to spare. Snapshots of styrofoam and foil-wrapped bundles, takeout containers and diner dishes are artfully assembled to create a daily collage. Midtown has been joined by lower Manhattan and Philadelphia editions with more cities in the works.



Posted in media | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

I’ll Get the Next Round: BuyaBeerCompany.com


Pabst Blue Ribbon is:

a) a blue-collar favorite decades past its heyday; or

b) the hippest, hottest beer around.

If you were born much before 1980 you probably missed this one.                             […]

Posted in food business, social media | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The “healthy” new mini Coke


“The Coca-Cola mini can innovation reinforces the Company’s support for healthy, active lifestyles.”


Sandy Douglas, President,

Coca-Cola North America


Pardon my cynicism, but I’m finding Mr. Douglas’ statement a little hard to swallow.
He was talking about new packaging that the Coca-Cola Company will be introducing this winter. The mini can holds 7.5 ounces of soda, less than two-thirds of the standard 12-ounce can, with 90 calories to the standard 140 calories. […]

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Making Sense of the Sugar Wars

ad courtesy of the Center for Consumer Freedom

ad courtesy of the Center for Consumer Freedom

The Corn Refiners Association is causing quite a stir with its print ads and television commercials pushing an image makeover for high fructose corn syrup. In one TV ad, a mother pours a glass of bright red punch; in another, a woman offers a cherry-colored Popsicle. In both commercials, the women are challenged to defend their choice of food containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Each has this ready response: high-fructose corn syrup is made from corn, has no artificial ingredients, and has the same calories as sugar. Of course they know to exercise moderation, as with any other natural sweetener but otherwise, they wonder, why all the fuss?

Is it possible that high-fructose corn syrup has gotten a bum rap? […]

Posted in food policy, food safety, sustainability | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments
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