What Did Jesus Drink?

“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 Basss 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?

Related Posts
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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  • Lisa

    Very cool photo! Can we also talk about misleading IMAGES on packages?! Most cows on milk cartons are standing in an wide open,green field with a mouth full of grass- most cows stand on concrete, inside and eat grains.

  • http://www.powered-by-produce.com Angie

    Just like the logos for Pepperidge Farms and Hillshire Farms depict a small red barn when the reality is a large factory.

    I’m pretty sure “Jesus Juice” is something I’d buy just for the name!

    • Marcee/ILLINOIS

      When I was a kid and spent summers at camp, we always had “Bug Juice.” Most likely, it was Kool-Aid …. or something very sugary, sticky and definitely a “bug magnet.” For sure, us campers were impressed (a bit bewildered too) by the name. My parents never bought KA in those days. I never mentioned the name BJ to them. What if they never let me go back to camp??? So, it was a huge treat for me that juice! Most of the kids thought it WAS made with bugs!!!

    • Lynn

      Jesus Juice is just a new name for Kalimotxo (or Calimocho), which is a Basque drink of equal parts red wine and cola. Surprisingly delicious if I do say so myself! Try it at home on a hot day, or next time you are in the Basque region of Spain.

      • Alicia

        Lynn, that is exactly what I was thinking!
        You could also come visit the Star Basque restaurant in Elko Nevada! The Kalis around here have a lime wedge in them, and a splash more red wine than cola. But boy are they good!

    • ursula haimowitz

      The Pepperidge Farm was a real farm purchased by a real person who began baking bread for her son who had extreme food allergies in order to provide him with nutritious food items that were not filled with preservatives. She did have a ‘test’ kitchen at Pepperidge Farm, although the original bread was baked in Ct and then taken by her husband by train into the city to find people who would be interested in selling this bread….her son died…she sold her business to a BIG company…and the rest is history. Sad story…lovely cookbook!

  • becky

    The cereal is called “Froot Loops” which should be the first clue there’s no fruit (or even “froot” whatever that it!)

    • Michelle

      Yes! My typo! Thanks for the catch….

  • Betsy

    I have to be honest and say that I change the name of foods all the time to entice my children into eating them. Just this morning when trying to get my 4 year old and 6 year old to try a new combination of wheat berries and oatmeal for breakfast I told them it was called, “Cookie Dough Cereal”. They gobbled it up! In my defence, with the combination of cinnamon, raisins and coconut, it really did taste like oatmeal cookie dough.

    • Michelle

      I love it … that’s like the opposite of what the manufacturers do — “label” the food as NOT healthy to get your kids to eat it !

    • http://www.girllovesdog.com Jess Mahler

      i love that you do that! ha!

    • Jena

      This is great Betsy! I tell MYSELF something similar…I throw blueberries, walnuts and a drizzle of agave nectar on my stove-cooked steel cut oats and PRESTO…I’m “cheating” with a big bakery-style blueberry muffin! lol

  • http://reallyliteral.blogspot.com/ christinachan

    Fruit Loops isn’t made of real fruit!? I DO NOT BELIEVE IT. I’m kidding really. I have to admit I’m quite upset about Aunt Jemima not being a real person. I would’ve loved a little heartfelt story about the syrup xxx

  • http://www.foodstheword.blogspot.com alana (at) the food

    it’s so scary to me that people still eat froot loops.

    • Marcee/ILLINOIS

      YES! I definitely agree w/you Alana. To this day I have zero idea how FL taste. My choice has never-ever been sugar-sugar-more sugared cereals. NO! Who buys em anyway???? UGH.

      • Karen

        I was raised on sugary cereals. Now that I’m an adult, I usually make decently healthy food choices, but every so often the desire for Reese’s Puffs or (my major vice) Count Chocula overwhelms every scrap of resistance and “that’s so bad for youuu” whim I have.

  • Regina

    I see quite a lot of people taken in by deceiving names and it angers/saddens me to see them part with hard earned money for “food” that isn’t worth it.
    On a lighter note: we have eaten “crocodile” for years after my autistic son decided he would not eat chicken anymore. False advertising for sure!

    • Michelle

      That’s hilarious — does he tell others that, “at our house we eat crocodile meat”. If that doesn’t get the authorities knocking on your door!

      • Regina

        Not he, but his younger brother and sister, who even went to our local shop and asked for “dragon rounds”, our name for chicken tournedos. I live in a tiny village and yes, it seems everybody heard about that one, lol.
        Anybody saw the “Asterix and Obelix” films? There is one where Obelix pronounces crocodile meat as stringy. He worshiped those characters so they could not be wrong. My “not” stringy crocodile caused a lot of confusion in his mind…..thankfully he still ate it.

  • http://6512andgrowing.wordpress.com/ 6512 and growing

    Great post, I’m thinking Jesus drank some fantastic pomegranate mead and goat milk kefir.

  • http://www.girllovesdog.com Jess Mahler

    When I was little I told my dad that my mom made me a potato chip sandwich for lunch….my dad was furious until the truth was revealed – that we had tacos!

    • Marcee/ILLINOIS

      Hahahaha …. so funny!

  • Deanne Townsend

    As a child, I gobbled up my trees (broccoli) and banana beans (wax beans), but wouldn’t, and still don’t, eat meringue pies after my uncle said meringue was calf slobber!

    • Andrea

      My mother-in-law won’t eat meringue for the exact same reason… so sad!

  • Burst Bubble

    I was very disheartened to hear about the humorless cows. When I was little, my grandmother always had Laughing Cow cheese. I always suspected the cows were laughing at us not with us (“Swiss people don’t eat this processed garbage; it’s purely for American consumption”). But I thought that maybe one of the cows in the pasture was the Billy Crystal cow. Now I learn this was wrong. This is very disillusioning.

    • Andrea

      Yeah, why is it that most of what’s on the American grocery shelves are overly processed and can barely be considered nutrition? When traveling internationally, I’ve noticed the labels (when I can read them) have very few ingredients and much shorter shelf lives – AND they taste so much better! Michelle – I’d love for you to investigate the differences between the US and other countries and why it’s that way. We have so many advantages, but it seems basic nutrition is in a pitiful state!

      • Michelle

        It’s a perfect “storm” of US consumers that seem to have an insatiable appetite for processed foods and the manufacturers of these foods that make a killing selling them. The other issue is that the US governemnt, heavily subsidizes corn and soybean manufacturers, which means procesed foods containing these ingredients (which covers most of the processed food) can be sold far more cheaply than fruit or vegetables.

        One of my favorite things to do when I travel (especially in Asia) is eat at outdoor restaurants and buy food from tiny road-side stands, sold feet from the fields where it was grown.

      • Sonya Michelle

        One large difference that I’ve noticed is that other countries seem to have a violent aversion to corn fillers. High fructose corn syrup, light corn syrup, corn starch solids. The best coca-cola I’ve ever had was in Italy. Made with real sugar.

        It is disheartening to realize the amount of cheap corn filler we use in America. With consumer awareness on corn, the trend is starting to swing to soy as the new filler. Which is also sad, considering the volume of people with sensitivities or allergies to soy products.

  • Sonya

    King Vitamin Cereal…..if you were a child in the US in the 70’s you may remember this brand. I remember it VIVIDLY because I tortured, literally tortured, my mother (a health fanatic) to buy this cereal – i swore to her it was healthy….the name even said so! Their TV advertising had clearly found its target audience in me! In sheer exhaustion my mother gave in. I was shocked, she wasn’t, to discover that it was nothing more then a sickly sweet sugar cereal with a couple extra “vitamins” thrown in. Amazing, nothing much has changed since then…

  • http://thefringeepicurian.blog.com/ Rick

    Recently, I read that George Orwell (1984) was attributed with saying something along the lines to “beware when words and meaning go their separate ways.” referring of course to ‘Newspeak’ which he invented for the novel. That’s precisely what our food manufactures have borrowed – food newspeak in which the title has nothing to do with the contents.

    Here in Canada it is possible to label something “made in Canada/fabrique au Canada” when the product actually originates elsewhere – it might only be packaged here! No wonder we are all so skeptical about our food and what’s in it! (But I must admit, its a sad day to learn that my favorite childhood cheese did not come from ‘good-time’ cows!)

  • Lauren

    When I was a kid, my dad did a lot of hunting. If he could he would live off the land he would. But when my brother was little he wouldn’t eat venison so my mom called it “deer chicken”. It stuck. He is 22 and my mom still asks if he want’s “deer chicken” for dinner?

    • Michelle

      Kinda like how one day we woke up and realized that Santa didn’t exist but we still pretend he does … Some things (like dinner for your brother and Christmas) are better experienced as fantasy.

    • Norman

      LOL! My mother used to do the same thing. My father had the erroneous belief stuck in his head that becase he had a heart condition, he shouldn’t eat pork. My mother knew better, so she’d cook pork anyway; when my father asked what it was, she’d just tell him it was chicken and he’d eat it unquestioningly. Maybe that’s where the expression “tastes like chicken” comes from!

  • J

    What about Healthcare? Is it really an industry that cares about health? HMMMM.

    I love this article! Thanks!

    • Michelle

      Ah, now you’re opening up a HUGE can of (healthy) worms! For that discussion, head to the official blog of the Senate :)

      • Sonya Michelle

        Totally agree with you on Health Care. That is an entire blog unto itself!

  • http://wordiosity.wordpress.com A.H. Dana

    In an attempt to get me to eat chicken wings–which she feared I wouldn’t eat in a childish fit of “that’s weird!!!”–my mother told me they were the drumsticks of baby chickens. It backfired. Badly.

    There are a number of “health halo” named products I’ve noticed lately. I like a little jam now and then on my whole wheat toaster waffles (finding an actual whole wheat toaster waffle was an adventure…). I almost bought a Polaner (i think?) Jam that boasted it had more fiber, because I decided it Then I read the back and realized it was a crazy mix of things I was pretty confident were not found in nature. Then I put it away. My grandmother’s jam has quite a bit of sugar in it, but at least I know what’s *in the jam* when I open it.

  • http://www.flipbuilder.com printable file

    Wine is fruit juice,which is tasty.I have to be honest and say that I change the name of foods all the time to entice my children into eating them.The Roman Empire had an immense impact on the development of viticulture and oenology.Wine was an integral part of the Roman diet and wine making became a precise business.

  • Tomas

    An inflated name I’ve noticed just recently at the store is “Muscle Milk”. I’ve not been interested enough to even read the contents…but the price is pretty fancy for 12 oz. of milk.

    • Michelle

      I am guessing it means there is added (milk) protein. If you see this product again, take a look and see if there is more than say 8g of protein/serving (which is aprx what milk delivers), if so, then this is likely what’s going on. Come back and report to us!

  • http://www.suzannerabi.com Suzanne Rabi

    Very interesting :-)

  • Lisa

    You are an awesome photographer! I came here for the health but can’t help noticing your taste in picture-taking. Great info btw!

    • Michelle

      Thanks Lisa! There are times when it’s the visual effect of a food that leads me write a post! Before food even enters our mouths, we begin eating with our eyes …

  • http://www.facebook.com/autumn.faith16 Autumn Faith

    Love this website. Very witty, informative .. & down right enjoyable.

  • http://shoestringaustin.com Shoestring Austin

    I believe it’s Kraft advertises their products as being “real cheese.” And every time I see it in the grocery store, I always say aloud, to anyone within earshot, “This is NOT REAL CHEESE.” I’m pretty sure it doesn’t even qualify as cheese, much less “real.” 😛

  • http://twitter.com/ProduceWorks Produce Works

    Any advertising or marketing that contains a modal verb (“like” “helps” “may” “could” etc.) is suspect. This includes the whole field. 

  • jeanne

    Hagen Dazs Ice Cream (totally deceptive name).