The grocery store that is most convenient to my house is awful. I’m at the point where I have to have a conversation with myself before I run in there to get something if I don’t have the time to go to a better store. The conversation goes something like this:


“You know that you’re going to have a problem with something at the store. Remember, you’re choosing to go there. If something bothers you, it’s your own fault for going in there. Just breathe deep and accept it.”


When I check my receipt I usually find that items have been rung up higher than the shelf price. Cashiers have yelled at me for bringing in reusable bags that have a different store’s name on them. Produce marked with a “Product of the USA” sign above the bin is sometimes from another country when I look at the sticker.


So today, when I had to run in there before I dropped my son at school, I wasn’t surprised when I saw the display in the photo above.


I have to admit, we were there to buy those Doritos. Yesterday, just a few hours after I finished writing the piece about advergames and used a Doritos advergame as an example, my son came home from school and told me he signed up to bring Doritos to his after-school program’s party.


As a parent, you have to pick and choose your battles, and there are a few battles going on in my house right now. I decided I could let my son win this one. So this morning, we ran to the grocery store that never fails to disappoint me to buy Doritos.


About a year ago, Frito-Lay, the manufacturers of Doritos, started making much of its junk food less junky. The company went with “all-natural” ingredients in many of its products. They got rid of artificial flavors and colors in many as well.


They couldn’t, however, figure out how to make Doritos or Cheetos all natural and still make them taste and look the way consumers expect them to taste. (I remember reading somewhere that the company had come right out and said this.)


Yet on the grocery store end-cap was a huge display of Doritos with the words “no msg,” “no preservatives,” and “no artificial flavor” surrounding the words "all natural" on the boxes. The camera also cut off the words "Naturally Delicious" that were above the packages of Doritos on the box.  When it comes to Doritos, those words are a lie.


Look at the list of ingredients at the right. (Sorry about the quality — I took the photo with my iPhone at the store of the exact product being displayed). It says there is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and artificial flavors right on the ingredient list. Those aren’t the only problem ingredients in the product, but they’re the ones that blatantly don’t match up with promises on the display.


If I had to guess, I’d say that the display boxes were leftover from when one of Frito-Lays all-natural products were on display. Someone from the distributor that delivers the snack food and stocks it at the store or someone from the store itself probably decided to reuse the boxes.


Did anyone at the store realize that the words on the display boxes and the ingredients in the product don't match? I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t. Or maybe the store doesn’t care about being accurate.


At a different store, I would have mentioned this to management. But I learned my lesson at this particular store — when I point out a disparity, I get called a “crazy lady.”


I bought the Doritos this morning understanding the ingredients exactly. This isn't a product that you’ll usually see in my grocery cart because of that issue. I worry, though, that someone is going to see that display and think, “Doritos are now all natural! I’ll let my family eat as many as they want.”


Be careful when you see information that just doesn’t add up. Look at the back of the bag, the box or the can. If you have a smartphone, get the Don’t Eat That app so you can check unfamiliar ingredients right at the grocery store. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Is your grocery store selling a lie?
What the display at the grocery store says about a product and the truth don’t always match up.