By Suzy Badaracco
“How about a Dutch baby for breakfast?” I said as I selected apples from the fruit basket. Enzo chimed in first, “No, I don’t like Dutch babies”. Switching tactics I said, “OK, how about an oven pancake?” He thought about this and said, “Yah, I like oven pancakes.” And he settled in on the couch while I started breakfast.
What he doesn’t know is that an oven pancake is a Dutch baby. I hit upon this after seeing countless studies done with kids and adult where their opinions would shift depending on how a product was positioned. So, one morning I offered to make Dutch baby, knowing he claims not to like it even though he has never eaten one. And when the typical “no” came, I said that I would make oven pancakes instead to which he agreed and has been eating Dutch babies ever since. The most interesting part is that he has seen me make Dutch baby a thousand times but when called an oven pancake he doesn’t question that it looks exactly like a Dutch baby. Perhaps I will tell him when he asks for the recipe in college.
There are more than a few foods and categories which carry one type of halo or another in consumer’s eyes. Some are deserved and some are not. A recent study by the University of South Carolina found that dieters were easily misled by product names and relied upon the product name instead of reading the entire package. The name itself carried a halo for dieters.
What would happen if, let’s say, some of those wearing false halos were exposed in open court during a trial? Let’s see, shall we?
The bailiff entered the packed court room and addressed the crowd. “Please rise for the honorable Judge Pica. Judge, the first case on the docket is The People vs. Halal, Kosher, Organic, and Gluten Free. You may be seated.”
Addressing the prosecution the Judge says, “Please read out the charges.”
Shuffling papers the prosecuting attorney rises and says, “Halal and Kosher are charged with misleading consumers thereby causing consumers to believe their products are safer than conventional products. Organic is charged with misleading consumers thereby causing consumers to believing their products are tastier and/or more healthful than conventional products. And gluten free is charged with misleading consumers thereby causing consumers to believe their products are more healthful than conventional products and/or will cause weight loss.”
The Judge turned to the three defense teams. “How do your clients plead?” Each team rose and declared their clients to be not guilty and even went a step further and pointed the finger at consumers for being ignorant and believing what they want to believe.
The attorney for Halal and Kosher rose to speak, “Your honor, it is not my clients fault that both Mintel and Packaged Facts revealed that consumers mistakenly believe that these products are safer. They certainly never marketed themselves that way.” The Judge considered him carefully and retorted, “Yes, but they did nothing to dispel this believe in consumers eyes. No, in fact, they profited from it.”
The Organic team rose next. “But your Honor, it is not my client’s fault that Cornell University reported that when consumers were given identical products, with one labeled “organic”, that consumers stated that the “organic” product was both better tasting and healthier.” The judge looked irritated. “Counselor, what part of what I just said to the Halal and Kosher team did you not understand?”
The Defense for Gluten Free was whispering to their client and the raised a hand. “We would like to change our plea from not guilty to no contest.” At this the judge looked amused, “Is that because Packaged Facts and Hartman independently uncovered that consumer mistakenly believe that gluten free is either more healthful or is a weight loss tool or both?”
The gluten free defense team squirmed, “Well, yes – that and it was just brought to our attention that the American Dietetic Association has come in four times now reiterating that the diet is for celiac sufferers and is neither more healthful than a diet containing gluten nor is it a weight loss tool. In fact, according to a study by gastroenterologist William Dickey found that 81% of celiac patients following a gluten free diet gained weight.”
The Judge prompted him further, “And….”
*To be continued in “Kosher, Halal, Organic, and Gluten Free Stand Trial – Part II”