A Not-So-Sweet Marketing Gimmick

Phil Lempert, self-described supermarket “guru,” has a new video touting, among other things, the fact that Necco Wafers are made without high fructose corn syrup:

You know that change is coming when 162 year old candy takes out the artificial colors and artificial flavors from its product. Necco Wafers contain no high fructose corn syrup and they use natural flavors and colors…

Perhaps the guru needs a little tutoring. Until last month, the wafers had the same ingredients for 160 years. High fructose corn syrup wasn’t used commercially until the 1970s. Plugging a candy for leaving out something it never contained is silly. (You might notice that the ingredient label of the wafers includes “corn syrup”—which is different from high fructose corn syrup.)
Lempert should also know better than to lump high fructose corn syrup in with “artificial flavors.” High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial ingredients. It’s sugar made from corn, instead of other plants like beets and cane. And as Lempert admits in a different article on his website, the Food and Drug Administration permits products with the corn-based sweetener to use a “natural” label.
We noted a few months back that some companies (like Starbucks) that market their goods as free of high fructose corn syrup are just jumping on a health-fad bandwagon. New products replacing high fructose corn syrup with table sugar are nutritionally the same as before. Why? Because high fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as table sugar.
An apple fritter is an apple fritter. And these sugary marketing stunts are much ado about nothing.

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