#2. Products Are Still Claiming Bullshit Health Benefits
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But there might not be any food category more subject to unwarranted bullshit claims than chewing gum. Will it whiten your teeth? Sure, kinda! Give you energy? Goddamn right it can! Maybe! Still, there are limits to what chewing gum can be presented as, right? It's just inedible candy, after all -- the most pointless of human foods. It's not like anyone has claimed chewing gum is an effective antibacterial medicine and slapped an absurd price tag on it.
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Don't tell Jenny McCarthy. She'll flip out.
Ah, come on! Of course they have!
In 2008, chewing gum giant Wrigley decided to pull out all the stops and see what the public would really pay for their product. They came up with Eclipse Gum, a chewing gum that would not just mask your bad breath, but actually murder it. Initially priced at around $10, Eclipse was said to contain a natural ingredient that kills the germs that cause bad breath. Later, they introduced a new, improved version that also boasted antiseptic qualities and actually worked as an anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis drug.
"Sir, your prescription is ready."
The competitors soon kicked up a fuss and it was revealed that the ridiculously overpriced Eclipse Gum didn't actually do anything. Even though Wrigley denied that they had ever lied (and even though it must have been pretty hard to feel sympathy for people who are willing to drop $10 on a pack of gum), the court ruled against the company and Wrigley was forced to compensate everyone who was willing to admit they'd bought a pack.
Of course, Wrigley took absolutely nothing of this to heart. They just added a small disclaimer here ("We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented") and a warning there and went right back to selling Eclipse. Today, Eclipse Gum can knock you back nearly $30 on Amazon -- and the only change to the product's claims is that now they say it's also a good substitute for snacks.
You're not fooling anyone. We know there's a ham sandwich behind that bubble.
#1. Junk Food Will Forever Claim to Be a Healthy Alternative to Something
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There's an old saying in advertising that any food, no matter how unhealthy, can be promoted as low in one thing or high in another. For instance, cotton candy is very low in nicotine, and Krispy Kreme donuts, which are rings of fat that are fried and then coated in sugar, are low in trans fat:
Via Krispy Kreme
No, seriously, think. Think about what you're reading versus what you're about to buy.
But even the biggest fans of Coca-Cola probably don't think of it as a health drink -- no one's chugging Coke before they head to the gym. This isn't a Vitaminwater situation. Coke is popular because we, as consumers, have made the decision to willingly purchase and drink candied fart water as a guilty pleasure. And that's totally fine.
Fine for everyone, that is, except Coke. Coca-Cola has long harbored a desire to be perceived as healthy. To combat the fact that their main product is essentially acidic liquid sugar, they employ all sorts of shenanigans to convey a healthy image. From rampant sports advertising to Coke Workout Calculators ("Select your favorite Coca-Cola drink to generate activity suggestions for a healthy, balanced lifestyle!"), the company is constantly blasting the market with visions of Coke as a healthy drink, despite all evidence to the contrary. But the most glaring example of their blatant abuse of the concept of "healthiness" was the Motherhood & Myth-Busting advertisement they ran in Australia.
The ad was formatted like a mythbusting infographic, explaining at length how this poop-colored caffeine water was not only "kiddy safe," but somehow wouldn't contribute to obesity, tooth decay, or health problems in any way. To give this blatant fuckery the shiny veneer of authority, they decided to hire Kerry Armstrong (a popular Australian actress) to endorse their myth busting.
Because who's more trustworthy than someone who makes a living pretending to be other people?
This particular ad was so blatant that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forced Coca Cola to immediately pull the plug on the campaign. What's more, the Aussie officials displayed a sense of humor only living in the Spider Kingdom will give you: They forced Coke to embark on a very different kind of ad campaign called "Setting the Record Straight," essentially making the company eat their false claims along with a big bag of dicks. Well played, Australia. Well played.
J.F. Sargent is writing a comedy sci fi action horror novel that you can read for free! He also has a Twitter and a Blog and a Facebook.
For more ways you're getting screwed by the food industry, check out 6 Subtle Ways You're Getting Screwed at the Grocery Store and 5 Ways Stores Use Science to Trick You Into Buying Crap.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Cases of Mistaken Address That Are Too Crazy For Reality .
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Further Reading: Curious about what ELSE the food industry lies about? Read on and never trust your kobe beef again. Still starved for misinformation? Cracked has you covered. If you think your blueberry muffins have REAL berries, you're in for a cruel surprise. Now that you're suitably riled up, let Seanbaby show you just how retarded advertisers think we are.