Friday, August 30, 2013

Marketing Gone Amok!

All I've heard lately are people talking about calories, fat grams, trans fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates. Healthy this and healthy that, portion control this and portion control that.  It's gotten to the point where when someone starts talking healthy eating, I hear blah, blah, blah. 

Spray whip

But, with all of this new more intense focus on food, I've also noticed a decided shift in the way food companies are advertising their products, and enough so that it has captured my attention and I'm actually listening again.  Advertisers no longer show just a steaming mound of mashed potatoes with a delectably lush pat of butter melting down the sides.  No sir they don't. 

Now the companies have taken their advertising to a whole new level to meet the consumer's evolving health awareness.  Instead of just hooking you with that ever so appealing mound of steaming hot mashed potatoes, they now sink their hooks in deep with the new added kicker "and 1 serving is only 80 calories!". 

Wow!  I love mashed potatoes and to be able to eat them and only consume 80 calories would leave room in my daily caloric count for dessert!  And jump for joy! The very next commercial after the potatoes was for spray whipped topping.

The commercial displayed a big bowl full of beautifully juicy red strawberries with a big mound of whipped topping.  The announcer said "....don't feel guilty..... because with just 15 calories it's the perfect compliment to your workout."

Oh thank you sweet Lord!  I won't be killing all the effects of my workout and I can enjoy a delightful reward.  And look at that mound of scrumptious savoriness they say I can have for only 15 calories!!!  Woo Hoo!

I ran out and bought the whipped topping and the strawberries.  I sprayed that whipped topping just like I'd seen on tv and as I was lowering the can to clean off the nozzle, I noticed the nutrition label and was instantly dismayed.  The commercial showed this big mound of lushness and the announcer said it only had 15 calories, but the can said the serving size for those 15 calories was 2 measly, miserly tablespoons.  2 flipping tablespoons?!!  I don't think it is even humanly possible to spray out only 2 tablespoons. 

So, in an effort to protect all of mankind from such false advertising, I offered myself up as a guinea pig to see just how much I was using on average.  Remember, I did this with the pure motive to help all of you who are watching your diet and not because I wanted to eat an entire can of whipped topping...... although it was decidedly delicious!

The photo at the top of this post is 2 tablespoons (and heaping tablespoons at that) of the spray whipped topping.  The photo below that is what I guessed to be the equivalent of what they sprayed in the commercial (although due to inability to get an actual scale and the camera distortion, the scale may be grossly off from my point of view and they may have sprayed a much smaller amount). 

I measured that mound out and it was 13 tablespoons which equates to 97.5 calories..... that's a whole lot more than 15.

Going back to those mashed potatoes, those were only 80 calories per serving, right?  Not so fast.  I checked the serving size (1/3 cup) and wouldn't you know those 80 calories were only for the potato flakes.  That's right, you can have the potato flakes for 80 calories but if you'd like them actually mixed with milk, butter, salt, and water (they taste closer to real potatoes that way) as the package directions state, then those calories jump up to 150.

Between just these 2 food items, my daily calorie intake was just blown by 152 calories.  That didn't seem that bad, I thought.  After all, it wasn't like I'd blown it by 1,000 calories.

Then I decided to look up what it would take for me to burn those extra calories off.  55 minutes of having my arm dislocated from it's I mean walking the dog.... or I could go play bumper carts with the old farts at Walmart for an hour and 15 minutes, or I could go swim laps freestyle at a moderate pace for 20 minutes straight. 

All of those options really make those marketing wizards look like demons in my eyes.  I don't want to have to exercise extra just for some whipped cream and boxed mashed potatoes.  Heck, I don't really want to exercise at all.

Yes, it's irritating that marketing guru's have run amok using these methods to sell products, but I guess that's the nature of the beast of free enterprise.  Consumer vs. Marketing.  So, once again that age old phrase proves itself correct "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is".

So there you have it, my first expose'.  I feel so John Stossel-y.

by: Christie Bielss

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