The Smart Choice is Froot

13:29 Fri 18 Sep 2009
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Apparently in response to increased public interest in eating better, the American food manufacturing industry has put together a campaign called Smart Choices. This is essentially a marketing effort masquerading as a health information campaign, as demonstrated quite well by the fact that Froot Loops qualify as a “smart choice”.

To defend this, the president of the Smart Choices board, Eileen T. Kennedy, gave the New York Times one of the most egregious pieces of dodgy rhetoric I’ve seen in quite some time:

“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

—William Neuman. “For Your Health, Froot Loops”. The New York Times, 04 September 2009.

It’s better than a doughnut, so it must be a smart choice!

As the people running this program no doubt know perfectly well, there are two keys to its success. One is the provision of a plausible excuse to people who want (or whose kids want) highly processed, sugary foods. The other is the advertising-specific variant of The Big Lie: taking advantage of the fact that it’s quite difficult for most people to accept that companies a) are making and b) can get away with utterly blatant spurious claims. It’s actually quite rational, if sadly unrealistic, for someone to see such a claim and to assume that there must be some truth to it because society wouldn’t possibly allow such large-scale lying.

The Sustainable Food Blog had as ten-point list of reasons why this program is outrageous, and they include a link to another prophetic Onion article, “Surgeon General Mills Recommends Three To Five Servings Of Froot Per Day”, from 2002.

2 Responses to “The Smart Choice is Froot”

  1. bobby Says:

    So we’ve set the bar at “Better than doughnuts.” Impressive.

  2. Eoin Says:

    Oh goody! Pizza is better than Doghnuts. Yum yum!

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