“It tastes like frozen sangria”, the girl behind the ice cream counter said when I asked her about Jesus Juice. She gave me a taste on the tip of a spoon. I then tried Secret Breakfast (bourbon & cornflakes) and Peanut Butter Curry. I would have sampled Salt&Pepper, except that I got the “your-tasting-limit’s-up” look. So I went with Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee – without sampling – handed over $2.75 for a golf-ball-sized scoop, and left Humphry Slocombe’s.
But this is not about Jesus or indecision at the ice cream counter, it’s about how names are designed to lure us in (especially the ones that are not entirely what they say they are).
Jesus Juice (red wine and Coke) was neither a beverage consumed by Jesus (wine likely, Coke no), nor a juice. And we encounter the Jesus Juice issue, daily. What’s surprising is that the rules are very murky/non-existant around what a food brand or food product can be named. There are strict rules around ingredient listing (descending order based on weight), nutritional tables (not required unless you make a nutritional claim on the package, but usually provided anyway), and nutritional claims (you can’t state that a product is an “Excellent source of protein” if it’s not), but when it comes to the brand or the name of the product – the FDA is surprisingly quiet.
“Jesus Juice” examples:
- Smart Balance “Buttery” Spread, is not particularly smart or balanced as it contains large amounts of soy oil plus artificial flavors and preservatives.
- Mountain Dairy, Farm Fresh, and Dutch Farms are all brands of salmonella infested, factory produced eggs that were recalled in August’s half billion egg recall.
- Laughing Cow cheese does not come from cows that are having a better time than any other factory raised cow.
- FroYo may not have much “Yo”. Proper yogurt has had 100% of the milk cultured and contains live bacteria. Most FroYo is skim milk, sugar, flavors, with “some” yo. Ben&Jerry’s FroYo has “yogurt powder” listed as the 5th ingredient with “yogurt cultures” in 21st place.
- Healthy Choice frozen entrees did not have to pass any nutritional standards before they could use the title.
- Pepperidge Farm products were never made on a farm. They were first made in a kitchen in CT, and in 1940 the operation was moved to a factory.
- There was never an Aunt named Jemima. The brand name was inspired by a minstrel song about a fictitious friendly black woman, and has been used to sell pancake mix since 1889 when many blacks worked in domestic kitchens.
- Sara Lee was named after the founder’s 8 year old daughter who does not appear to have had any baking experience.
- Chilean Sea Bass‘s proper name is the Patagonia Tooth Fish, which no one would buy until it got a name make-over. It is now on the endangered list. (Though in fairness, it is from Chile and is a bass.)
- Froot* Loops contain no fruit (Shocking, I know).
- Best Yet is a brand of cheese, although it is unclear what they are the “best” at since the cheese appears to be suffocating in its plastic bondage.
- Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, however, really was created on a ranch, in a valley, in California, in 1954.
So what’s the conclusion? If you want to sell a food product, bake the dubious claim right into the name itself, or name it after a woman, a farm or a religious figure.
What other “inflated” names have you come across? Any that (if you’re really honest) you’ve been seduced into buying because of the name? Or names you simply love?
But It’s Natually Made In The Lab!
Dressed To Kill (Do you know what’s in your salad dressing?)
* Although it does contain “Natural Fruit Flavors”, an assertion it slaps across the front of the box.
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