Tag Archives: marketing

Snackademics: Food Labeling Ep. 87

It’s time for an education on food labels.  We aren’t talking about the unimportant labels like nutrition and calorie content. No. We mean those super important marketing labels that help make us believe these foods are delicious.  “Homestyle,” “homemade,” “natural” “chef-crafted,” and more. What do they all mean? They mean poppy-cock. That’s what…

Food label Quiz – Fill in the blank – We found some food labels language worth examining. Can you decipher the real label? (next to the red arrow) and choose the right answer?  Ignore the apparent size/shape of the smudged wording. We are expert photoshopppers and masked it well.

ANSWERS at the bottom of the page (with some insightful commentary) – check out Episode 87 for more mind blowing insight from the incomparable Rod and Hugh. If you see a hyperlink, check out our review.

1. Yoo-Hoo Chocolate “_______”

a) “Milk”

b) “Non-dairy”

c) “Drink”

 

 

 

2. Mini Babybel Mozzarella “_______”

a) “Wheel”

b) “Style”

c) “Cheese product”

 

 

3. The “_______” Crispy Chicken Sandwich from BK

a) “Extra”

b) “New”

c) “Homestyle”

 

 

4. Black Forest Gummy Bears – middle label states “_______”

a) “Made with Real Fruit Juice”

b) “Now with Green Apple!”

c) “Gelatin rendered from only free range horse bones & hooves”

 


5. Kettle Brand Moscow Mule Potato Chips label states “_______”

a) “Non –GMO Project Verified”

b) “Flavored with Stevia”

c) “Contains less than .05% insect parts”

 

 

6. The “_______” Cracker Tub (TM)

a) “Original”

b) “Lil’ Bitz”

c) “Classic”

 

 

 

7. Chiquita Banana “_______”

a) “Win your own fruit hat!”

b) “Potassi-tastic!”

c) “Bop it!”

 

8. Mtn. Dew Kickstart – Electrolytes “_______”

a) “Not a significant form of hydration”

b) “For taste”

c) “It’s what plants crave”

 

 

 

9. Sweet and Saucy Barbecue Rib Popcorn

a) “With Real Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce”

b) “Naturally Flavored”

c) “Naturally and Artificially Flavored”

 

 

 

10. Starbucks “_________” Bacon Cheddar & Egg

(a) “Double-Smoked”

(b) “Triple Thick Cut”

(c) “Quadruple Crispy”

 

 

 

 

11. Dash Gas Station The Boss “_______” Sandwich

(a) “Meat-Muenster Mutant”

(b) “Chef-Crafted”

(c) “Gourmet-Style”

 

 

 

 

12. 20oz Soft Drinks 3/$4 Excludes “_______”

(a) “Mutant”

(b) “Monster”

(c) “Seltzer”

 

13. Publix Organic Spinach “_________”

(a) “Washed”

(b) “Double Washed”

(c) “Triple Washed”

 

 

14. Sweetened “_______” Old Fashioned Firehouse Southern Tea

(a) “Zero Calorie”

(b) “Confederate Style”

(c) “With Cane Sugar”

THE ANSWERS

 

Yoo-Hoo Chocolate “_______”

a) “Milk”

b) “Non-dairy”

c) “Drink”

We looked and didn’t see any legal prohibition on calling it milk, which was surprising at first. The Dairy lobby is powerful. But then again… think about soy “milk,” or almond “milk.”  With Yoo-hoo, we think, not being called milk is intentional and its greatest marketing strength.  Hugh is a big fan of Yoo-hoo, and recalls in his youth being pitched Yoo-hoo as better than chocolate milk because it’s not so thick and “gloppy,” in your throat. He’s been hooked ever since. Check out our Yoo-hoo chugging challenge  in Episode 74.

Mini Babybel Mozzarella “_______”

a) “Wheel”

b) “Style”

c) “Cheese product”

It’s not really Mozzarella?  Why must it merely be Mozzarella “sytle?” Is cheese Like Champagne? – to be called mozzarella it needs to be done a certain way?  In a certain place?  We looked in the Hungry Dads fridge for some generic store brand shredded mozzarella and it says just “mozzarella” with no qualifier.  If they don’t have to claim “style,” why does Babybel care?  Any cheesemongers in our audience, please write in and tell us.

The “_______” Crispy Chicken Sandwich from BK

a) “Extra”

b) “New”

c) “Homestyle”

Was this thing new? According to BK’s marketing folks, they were responding to chatter that their chicken sandwiches were “gross.”  They purport new breading process and higher quality chicken. But to my taste test, it seemed pretty much the same – and didn’t look quite as good as its ad version. Chicken sandwiches are “trending” in NYC thanks to one put out by Shake Shack that is surely overhyped. Guess BK wants in.

Black Forest Gummy Bears – middle label states “_______”

a) “Made with Real Fruit Juice”

b) “Now with Green Apple!

c) “Gelatin rendered from only free range horse bones & hooves”

Gummy Bears “made with REAL FRUIT JUICE” – is this supposed to tell me that gummy bears are sort of healthy? Or that juice isn’t all that healthy?  How much fruit juice do they need to add to qualify this claim?

And an answer to the asterisks’ conspiracy…

Kettle Brand Moscow Mule Potato Chips label states “_______”

a) “Non –GMO Project Verified”

b) “Flavored with Stevia”

c) “Contains less than .05% insect parts”

Also note the gluten free label. This is a play to try to make the potato chips look like health food, right? It kinda works. That butterfly is very ethereal and weightless, much like I will feel after eating a bag of their chips. All nice and good, but don’t forget that Kettle paid to have that label. From the Non-GMO Project website about getting verificaiton, “The cost varies depending on how many products you wish to submit for verification…” So this was an expense that Kettle baked into their “Moscow Mule” chip, in order to convince you that it’s at least natural, and perhaps even a little good for you.

The “_______” Cracker Tub

a) “Original”

b) “‘Lil Bitz”

c) “Classic”

The Original?! – We see the word “original” in other places like Skittles, meaning, the original flavors – not “tropical” or whatever.  But here, what’s so original.  This one is Sour Cream and Onion so that’s not what they mean. The Original Cracker Tub? Do we really think there is an original? If so, do we think Global Brands (Product of India) are the originators of putting crackers in a tub? They must be. They have a trademark right there on the name.  Is this a play at Cracker Barrel?

Chiquita Banana “_______”

a) “Get your own fruit hat!”

b) “Potassi-tastic!”

c) “Bop it!”

A toy advertisement on my fruit?  Cross promotion has no boundaries. But, in all honesty, it doesn’t really bother us.  We haven’t felt compelled to buy a Bop-it though.

Mtn. Dew Kickstart – Electrolytes “_______”

a) “not a significant form of hydration”

b) “For taste”

c) “It’s what plants crave”

d) What does an electrolyte taste like? Salt I think. Mountain Dew clearly thought putting the word “electrolytes” was a good word to put on their can in big letters. They didn’t have to do that. They must’ve thought people liked electrolytes.  If you don’t understand option (c), check out the cult classic film Idiocracy.  I would almost have believed that Mountain Dew would use the tagline “It’s what plants crave,” in a cross promotional opportunity – its got more synergy than Bop It.  Debatably better than the Superbowl commercial puppymonkeybaby.

Sweet and Saucy Barbecue Rib Popcorn

a) “With Real Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce”

b) “Naturally Flavored”

c) “Naturally and Artificially Flavored”

So there, they can claim that BBQ popcorn was “Naturally Flavored.” And not “naturally and artificially” flavored. How? Why? Let me allow the FDA to answer from  FDA.gov: (in sum, anything that is not defined as “artificial” may be called “natural.”  And a section of code defines “artificial” as, things that are NOT “derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.” Still don’t get it? Read more below.

Starbucks “_________” Bacon Cheddar & Egg

(a) “Double-Smoked”

(b) “Triple Thick Cut”

(c) “Quadruple Crispy”

Maybe this means a double dump of liquid smoke in the pink slime from which the bacon is made? (actually, pink slime is probably a myth, but we choose to believe).

Dash Gas Station The Boss “_______” Sandwich

(a) “Meat-Muenster Mutant”

(b) “Chef-Crafted”

(c) “Gourmet-Style”

The Gas station Chef?

20oz Soft Drinks 3/$4 Excludes “_______”

(a) “Mutant”

(b) “Monster”

(c) “Seltzer”

If you see this sign, ask the cashier what mutant is. See if they know. It’s a fun game.

Publix Organic Spinach “_________”

(a) “Washed”

(b) “Double Washed”

(c) “Triple Washed”

Why not Quadruple wash? How exactly do they do multipole washes? Does it go in multiple bings? What liquids are used? Water? Anything else? Could somebody help me out? Because I’d like to know!!!

Sweetened “_______” Old Fashioned Firehouse Southern Tea

(a) “Zero Calorie”

(b) “Confederate Style”

(c) “With Cane Sugar”

Is cane sugar supposed to be healthier? (Hint: its not)

* They further state: “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”  The FDA Requested Comments from the public on Use of the Term “Natural” on Food Labeling back in May 2016 – there are thousands posted. Some professional and some just regular people.

The FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic  (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.  However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also did not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit. 

TITLE 21–CHAPTER I– SUBCHAPTER B– PART 101 — FOOD LABELING  (a)(1) The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof. Artificial flavor includes the substances listed in 172.515(b) and 182.60 of this chapter except where these are derived from natural sources.

 

Super Bowl 50 (food) Commercials – Ep. 62

After a brief discussion of Hugh’s Super Bowl party food experience, the fellas share their wisdom and insight on this year’s crop of food oriented Super Bowl Commercials. Years in the trenches on the NY advertising scene make their opinions much better than yours.

————————————-

The Best & Worst Super Bowl 50 (food) Commercials

Declaration of Delicious (Jack in The Box) – This is a good example of an expected Super Bowl commercial (for better and for worse).  It is simple with not too challenging a premise. Its well produced with some hyperbole and a mild gag at the end.  One of the more interesting choices in this commercial was that the man on shore, ready to receive a burger from Jack (and, with whom the viewer is presumably supposed to identify) is good looking, fit, and literally wearing workout gear.  Subliminally… Is Jack in the Box health food?  Guess so…

Rod’s Score: 6 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 6 out of 10

 

Ultrasound (Doritos) – This was easily one of the better Super Bowl commercials, perhaps because it was created without the Mad Men (and women) of Madison Avenue. This Crash The Super Bowl contest winner relied on the “schlubby dad trope,” to effective ends. The ad conveys the addictive nature of Doritos and supplies a funny twist at the end that is just surprising enough while also making narrative sense.

Rod’s Score: 9 out of 10 (his favorite)

Hugh’s Score: 8 out of 10

 

Bolder than Bold Jump (Butterfinger) – Here is another example of the hyperbole trope that is a favorite of SuperBowl commercials – piling one thing onto another and another to ridiculous, albeit humorous, effect. An idea like this has to be well produced to be effective, and this one was.  Butterfinger even effectively subverted the trope by making the final “bold move” be a grown man receiving a warning from mom about spoiling his dinner. Kudos, Butterfinger, for acknowledging that your junk food product could, potentially, ruin dinner, not replace it.

Rod’s Score: 7 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 5 out of 10

Doritos Dogs (Doritos) – We all know dogs love Doritos! Rabbits love Trix, Sonny lives Coco Puffs, and Cookie Crooks love Cookie Crisp – so much that they will all resort to petty theft.  Dogs are both cute and a Super Bowl favorite… and these dogs are even willing to pay for their Doritos.  Even if they have to pull the oddest Scooby Doo trick in the book.

Rod’s Score: 3 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 5 out of 10

 

Bigger Than… (Taco Bell) – Sorry Beefy Crunch Movement, it’s another Quesalupa and another example of the Super Bowl commercial hyperbole treatment.  What’s bigger than bigger than bigger than big? Maybe our exhaustion with this trope.  Unlike Butterfinger, Taco Bell continued to ratchet up the hyperbole to say that that its cheesy Quesalupa was bigger than soccer and an alien invasion, all to the tune of Welcome to the Jungle.  Excellently produced. Mildly clever.  Welcome to the Super Bowl. EXTREME!

Rod’s Score: 6 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 6 out of 10

 

This One’s for Mom (Campbell’s Chunky Soup) – Campbell’s is the only Superbowl food advertiser on this list to relied on heart without humor. The change of pace was nice and helped make an otherwise average commercial stand out. Heartwarming, and a contrast to “the official soup of the NFL’s” usual humorous football-based commercials.

Rod’s Score: 5 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 7 out of 10

 

“Marilyn” (Snickers) – Snickers goes back to a well worn campaign with a serviceable ad, but nothing that outperforms prior “You are not Yourself When You are Hungry” spots – like the excellent Danny Trejo/ Brady Bunch ad.  This generation’s nostalgia yearns for Marsha, not Marilyn.

Rod’s Score: 3 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 4 out of 10

 

The Portrait (Skittles) – The candy maker overplayed their hand when they scored legend Steven Tyler for thier ad. A Very exaggerated version of Steven Tyler talking to a portrait of Steven Tyler that sings like Steven Tyler?  Yes, Skittles, we notice that Steven Tyler is in your ad. Congratulations.  Might we suggest you just try something clever or interesting next time? Maybe real life works of #Skittleart?

Rod’s Score: 2 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 3 out of 10

 

Dream (KFC) – We called it! In Episode 46 (back in September) we suggested that the great Jim Gaffigan take a turn as the third Colonel Sanders, following a creepy Darrell Hammond and an intentionally uncommitted Norm McDonald.  This campaign is impressively taking its time, laying out the storyline of multiple dubious colonel identities while bringing in on top-notch funnymen to boot.

Rod’s Score: 8 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 9 out of 10

 

 

Weiner Dog Stampede (Heinz) – The ketchup people effectively use the ole juxtaposition trick with a cute but silly scene of costumed dogs and people with the backdrop of a dramatic, serious, and well known love song. Despite the many Superbowl clichés (dogs, pop music, safe humor) this one came together as a pretty enjoyable ad.  Funny and sweet.  Makes us want to #meettheketchups.

Rod’s Score: 7 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 8 out of 10

 

Puppy Monkey Baby (Mountain Dew Kickstart) – This acid trip art film of a commercial created buzz and dissection. Some found it painfully odd, disturbing, creepy and pointless.  Others thought it was goofy unique, and funny in its ridiculousness.  By one view, the ad was a lowbrow gag with little substance.  But in execution, with its practical effects and synth soundtrack, this ad was arguably a brave foray of fringe art into the most mainstream of venues.

Rod’s Score: 4 out of 10

Hugh’s Score: 9 out of 10 (his favorite)

 

 

 

lovin, mclovin, mcdonalds, promotions

Employees Only – Episode 29

In this episode, Rod starts with a word of warning to all the aging Hungry Dads out there. Then, the guys spend the remainder of the episode focusing on the often forgotten employees of the fast food world – including a “Fast Food Time Warp” focusing on McDonald’s recent “Pay with Luvin” contest. Oh, and Hugh also touches on how an upside down DQ Blizzard is similar to a Cirque du Soleil performance.

kashi, miracle whip, quaker oats, bushs' baked beans giradelli, blue diamond almonds, saltines, sizzle, fajita, coffee, mcdonalds

Ok, So Is Miracle Whip Super Hip or Not? – Episode 26

Episode 26 features the guys’ expert takes on Miracle Whip’s attempt at being super hip and way cooler than Mayonnaise (see below). Then, Rod tests Hugh’s savvy on bundt cakes, food packaging, and pushes the extremes with an audacious test of his fajita sizzle law knowledge.

 

Hungry Dads Sampler #4: Marketing Spin

Hugh and Rod have cobbled together some of their favorite moments into irresistible bite-sized samplers for all to enjoy! Some people have a gift for music, some for math, and others for reading and writing marketing drivel. As sampler #4 proves, our own Hugh Gallon falls into the latter category.

Our Podcast, Their Food, Many Questions – Episode 11

After taking care of a few Halloween follow-ups, the guys unveil their first Hungry Dads investigative report by focusing on McDonald’s efforts to clean up its image.  What do the guys think of their new campaign of transparency and straight talk?


 

(01:04) The Great Cauldron Scoop – As promised in The Halloween Episode (episode 10), Rod attempted to steal candy from an unattended cauldron in his neighborhood. Better yet, he recorded the entire event as it unfolded. Was he successful, or did he fail miserably? Is he now known as the neighborhood thief? Were the police needed?

(07:45) HUNGRY DADS SPECIAL REPORT: What the Heck is in a McRib? – And other things we’ve been wondering about McDonalds for a long time now. Hugh presents an in-depth look at McDonalds’ new marketing campaign, and the guys reveal some of the answers straight from Ronald’s mouth… or at least from his website: http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/your_questions/our_food.html. Did you know there are supposedly FOUR ICONIC CHICKEN MCNUGGET SHAPES (see the graphic below)?  Is all this straight-talk from McDonalds a worthwhile endeavor, fluffy marketing hyperbole, or something in between? The guys discuss the pros and cons of the approach.