Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sugar Cane and My Cool Whip Story

I did a double-take. There in front of me on a random little black shelf in the produce section, strewn haphazardly below the shelf of big fat New Zealand kiwis, lay vacuum-packed single sticks of sugar cane! The cool thing about this:
  • We are talking seriously mediocre grocery store where I would bet a lot of money they would never carry something like single sticks of sugar cane.
  • Where can you buy relatively fresh sugar cane sticks?
  • I felt my salivary glands awaken at the idea of sucking on the sweet cane juices.
Promptly my husband walks over and says, "Oh, you found the hippie sticks!"

On a darker note, I am mad at Kraft. I should be writing them a letter, but first I'll share what I discovered in the frozen dessert case yesterday. I was supposed to be picking up a pint of B&J's for Jeff, but I was distracted by all of the bright colors in the Cool Whip section. Then, from a distance I see, "Cool Whip -- Sugar Free". Okay, so I suspected the usual maltitol or Splenda that I seem to see in sugar-free ingredients lists but I decided to take a look. As I read the ingredients through the frozen glass door, I became surprised.

The first ingredient was water, if I'm remembering correctly, but the second ingredient, even before milk or oil, was corn syrup! Just "corn syrup" with a tiny asterisk. Okay so I followed the asterisk down to the bottom edge of the container and read something like, "Contains a trivial amount of sugar." My question is, isn't a trivial amount of sugar still sugar? Also, why would you print ingredients in the tiniest font in the world? I have excellent eyesight, yet the font made my eyes hurt.

It was a reminder to not believe everything you read on a label. I guess food industry geniuses figure most people will just look at the front label and not bother to check the list of ingredients. Little did Kraft know that I would discover their dirty little secret and share it on the world wide web! It infuriates me how labeling laws allow for this inconsistancy. To me, sugar-free means no sugar at all, otherwise, where do you draw the line and WHO draws the line? A "trivial" amount of sugar is quite subjective in my opinion! Also, if one were to eat the entire tub of cool whip, could it be considered sugar-free then, or did that person eat so many servings of "trivial" amounts of sugar that the total amount consumed wasn't trivial anymore?

I don't respect tricky marketing tactics like this, and I think if enough people complain, Kraft may own up to their misleading label.

It reminds me of the big argument a while back about the "fat free" butter spray that people would basically drown their toast with, "because they could." But come to find out, "fat-free" only pertained to one serving size and after so many serving sizes the butter was definitely no longer fat-free!

Anyway, I have provided a link to the Cool Whip I am talking about because I think it's so interesting. Do they count on their customers being so naive?


beckiwithani said...

Yeah, and notice that the THIRD ingredient is hydrogenated vegetable oil ... but the label says "0g" of trans fat. That's because anything less than 1/2 g per serving can be called 0 g. Labeling rules suck.

My Year Without said...

Exactly. When I began looking at the ingredients, I decided to focus on sugar because there are SO MANY things wrong with the ingredients in Cool Whip!

I wonder what it is we are craving when we consider buying such a must be the fat, salt and sweet aspect of it.

skarppala said...

You both are RIGHT ON. (Just found this googling). While we are on the subject how about General Mills and their claims to whole grain. Not even close to 100% whole grain yet they tout their claims so boldly deceiving many into thinking they are doing the right thing.

The cool whip crave is for something creamy, fluffy and mildly sweet, in answer to that question.