In 2010, baby carrot producers banded together and created a carrot marketing campaign. It was news for two reasons. First, fresh produce rarely gets a big marketing campaign. The producers of fruits and vegetables typically don’t have the budget to support this kind of idea. Second, the ads created for baby carrots attempted to place them in the same category as junk food — not nutrition-wise, but desire-wise. Some of the ads even used sex to sell baby carrots.
Earlier this year, New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss wrote the best-selling book “Sugar Salt Fat” that educated the general public about food scientists who study the “bliss spot” of food. The "bliss spot" is that point where sugar and fat levels in a food come together just right to make the food so enjoyable that you don’t want to stop eating it. The example usually given for a food like that is Cheetos — and I agree it’s a great example.
CBS News recently did a follow-up story about the continuing effort to market baby carrots using processed-food marketing tactics, and it revealed that at least one baby carrot manufacturer, Bolthouse Farms, has food scientists changing the carrot itself to find its “bliss spot,” or “bliss point” as they say in the video.
Despite what the food scientist who was interviewed by CBS says, foods are being manipulated. When you “tweak and change” something to “increase consumer acceptance” that falls right under the Merriam-Webster definition of manipulate: “to use or change (numbers, information, etc.) in a skillful way or for a particular purpose.”
My first reaction when I saw this was that the marketers have won. Big money, big advertising, big business, and big food have so manipulated us, manipulated our taste buds and the way our brains perceive the pleasure of what we’re eating, that now we’re changing natural foods. We’re not just changing the way foods are advertised; we’re changing the way they actually are. Not that we, as a culture, don’t have our responsibility in this. We’ve let them.
What is your first thought when you learn that food scientists are changing fresh foods to find their “bliss spots?”
Related files on MNN:
- Michelle Obama to food industry: Do more, move faster to market responsibly to our kids
- Should marketing ever be targeted to children, even for healthy foods?
- Marketers hijack 'five or fewer'