High Fructose Corn Syrup & Other Food Fairy Tales

Adriana Velez

yoplait light and creamyOnce upon a time there was a low-fat, dessert-flavored yogurt so delicious people actually confused it with dessert ...

Have you seen the commercial with the husband boasting over the phone about all the "desserts" he's been eating -- strawberry cheesecake, key lime pie, apple turnovers -- while still losing weight on his diet? Meanwhile there's a row of dessert-flavored low-fat yogurt in his refrigerator. And they all lived happily -- and healthfully -- ever after.

Okay, seriously? A cup of yogurt is going to make me feel like I'm cheating on my diet? Are you falling for this fairy tale?

I know ad folks are supposed to spin magic, but sometimes the spin starts sounding more like Jedi mind tricks. Below are a few more of my favorite food marketing fairy tales.


corn sugarOnce upon a time there was a horrible, nasty sweetener called high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS for short). In time people came to fear the dreaded sweetener, and some even spread rumors that HFSC was worse for you than any other sweetener in the land!

But then a knight in marketing armor arrived to give HFCS a royal rebranding. Henceforth (or, after they get the OK from the FDA) high fructose corn syrup would be known by the more wholesome name, corn sugar! Same highly processed sweetener -- new, less sciency-sounding name. Families rejoiced and took long walks through cornfields as the sun set just to say thank you to the corn.


olive gardenHere in America there is an enchanted chain of restaurants, where "authentic" Italian specialties are crafted by chefs trained at a special culinary school in Tuscany!

Okay, I've been to this ubiquitous chain, and I've been to Italy. I don't care how much you love the bread sticks and salad dressing, that's not Italian food. That's vaguely Italian-inspired prepared sauces. Hate to burst your bubble, but I seriously doubt those sauces are made from scratch.


lean cuisineOnce there were three miserable office serfs trapped in their cubicles at lunchtime. One had brought a "mystery meat" sandwich, another was going to raid the conference room for bagels. But the third office worker had a magic sandwich: a panino she had microwaved -- and yet the bread defied the laws of physics and remained crisp! She moaned with pleasure as the other office serfs looked on.

Have you had one of those sandwiches? They're better than the bagels in the conference room, but they're not magic, and they're not going to make you moan in pleasure. (Also, who forces you to bring mystery meat to work?)


Oh advertisers, I love these fairy tales. They're so entertaining. Please, tell us some more!

What are your favorite marketing food fairy tales?

Images via Yoplait, cornsugar.com, Olive Garden, Lean Cuisine

Read More