Food companies can’t seem to help themselves. It must be so-o-o tempting to stretch the truth…even just a tad. So what if consumers are misled? The clues are (almost always) there, if people study the fine print or the ingredients list. Here’s a sampling of labels and ads that use clever tricks and marketing ploys to make foods sound healthier than they are.
Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie
“16 g protein per cookie,” brags Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie.
Whether you go with Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, or another flavor, you get “baked nutrition,” says the label. “8 g fiber per cookie. No eggs. No dairy. No soy. Non GMO. Vegan.”
Since when does adding protein (pea isolate, brown rice, and wheat gluten) and processed fiber make a cookie nutritious?
Never mind that each 4 oz. cookie has 360 to 400 calories (the labels list 180 to 200…but that’s for half). And they‘re mostly white flour, sugar, and margarine. That’s not “baked nutrition.” It’s a “give people an excuse to eat a giant cookie” marketing ploy.
“Where does she get all that strength and energy?” asks a tired young staffer on the set of “Good Morning America” in the Ensure ad. “My days get going here!” says his energetic colleague, as she tosses bottles of Ensure to him and a co-worker. “Love this stuff,” mumbles a passing colleague as she swipes a bottle.
Ensure already spends much of its ad budget tricking older people into thinking that they need Ensure to stay healthy and active. Now it’s trying to convince younger people that it will fight fatigue?
No one, young or old, needs Ensure unless they’re unable to eat enough ordinary food. For the rest of us, a 220-calorie bottle of maltodextrin, sugar, oil, and milk and soy proteins—plus a fraction of the vitamin levels you’d get in a multi—is a waste of money and calories.
Mission Garden Spinach Herb Wraps
“No artificial flavors,” says the bag of Mission Garden Spinach Herb Wraps. No spinach to speak of, either. Spinach powder comes after white flour and shortening in the ingredients list.
It’s part of the “seasoning,” along with onion powder, garlic powder, spices, oil, natural flavor, and blue and yellow dyes (that’s why the wraps are green).
People buy green wraps to get greens, not green-dyed food. Is Mission on a mission to fool us?
International Delight One Touch Latte Frothing Coffee Creamer
“Lattes are my life’s work,” says the older Italian woman in the ad for International Delight One Touch Latte Frothing Coffee Creamer. “But now, anyone can make a latte…in 5 seconds!”
No, they can’t. A real latte is made with espresso and steamed milk. A One Touch “latte” is creamer—that is, sugar, coconut oil, gums, artificial flavors, etc.—plus your coffee.
As the Nutrition Facts show, to make a latte with just 6 oz. of coffee, you’d need a seventh of a can, which is about 9 tablespoons.
That comes with 120 calories, plus 6 grams of saturated fat and 4 teaspoons of added sugar—about a third of day’s worth of each. And you get none of the protein or calcium you’d expect in a latte.
Of course, to get the creamer to froth, it needs to go directly from the can into the coffee, so good luck carefully measuring out those 9 tablespoons. And if you’re drinking more than 6 oz. of coffee, don’t forget to multiply.
Nothing like a nice hot cup of coffee, sugar, oil, and gums…in 5 seconds!
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