Were you fooled by one of these products?

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!

Find this article interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you’re not already subscribing to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.

23 Replies to “Were you fooled by one of these products?”

  1. Thank you, I’d almost been persuaded by the Ensure ads to try it, and now, thanks to you good folks, I won’t be bothering!

  2. Excellent information, thank you! I do not personally hunger for the above mentioned products, but I do hunger for the knowledge to correctly analyze label information. I do look for the information especially when I read the label on a package of cookies; I do not expect the cookies to be nutritious as much as I am looking for what in the cookie might be really bad for me [like sugar]…

  3. What would be the best protein powder to try- I was using ensure as a protein base with some milk and fruit for a morning protein drink, thanks for better information about the ensure product!

  4. Help- there was an excellent article with these from earlier this week, I sent the part about the vegan cookie to my vegan daughter, and then lost the piece about “gluten free” which I wanted to save. HELP- where is it?

  5. Thanks for info on misleading ads. That’s just wrong. We have laws that protect us against this deception. How can this happen?

  6. Thank-you for this. I am not surprised by the info, as many people would be. I hope it is heeded , especially about the Ensure.


  7. Thank you so much for once again and lightning us to the tomfoolery in the advertising world. These companies try very hard to mislead us and do a very good job so I thank you again for the excellent job you’re doing.

  8. I am very grateful to get your analyses of various products, I.e. Ensure and others! There is never enough time to study the value of all encredients. Thank you!

  9. Thanks for sharing. As a previous commenter mentioned, I too was unaware of the above food labels mainly because I eat whole foods with an occasional deviation from well-researched protein bars or when eating out. But this was good to know when handling questions from clients or customers.

  10. Great article.. I only wish it could be published on the front page of every daily newspaper in North America. Thanks for your work….. G.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *