Sweet Surprise

Sweet Surprise Parody

This video shows what the Sweet Surprise commercials would be like if they weren’t obscuring all of the facts about High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I’m sure I’ll be hearing from a lawyer about this one.  If I do get contacted by lawyer for the Corn Refiners Association I will consider it an admission on their part that everything in this video is pure fact.  Also, if you sue me, I will kick you.  Now that we know where everyone stands let’s have a little fun shall we:

Fast Food Permeates the South

The South has a culinary tradition so rich that without it the sum of “American Cuisine” would be little more than turkey and genetically modified corn.  That is why I was so disturbed by a recent piece by Zagat entitled 40 Fast-Food Capitals.  The gist of the article was to find the 40 most fast food dominated cities and it is not a list anyone should ever want to be on.  Sadly, seven of the top 10 cities and half of the list are in the South.  Even worse ten of the 40 are in the five states that constitute the Third Coast.

I can understand a high concentration of fast food establishments in locals that depend on tourism so Orlando, Miami and Tampa you get a pass.  Jacksonville, not so fast.  Shame also cloaks the Texas cities of Lubbock, Plano and Houston.  In Alabama, Birmingham (#10) and Montgomery (#15) as well as Baton Rouge, LA (#7) also bring a dishonor to themselves.  Congratulations to Mississippi who didn’t have a single city scratch the list, the same for tourist heavy New Orleans and Mobile.

As a resident of Alabama I have taken great pride in the back-to-back football national championships and Heisman Trophy winners won by the student athletes at the University of Alabama (2009) and Auburn University (2010).  But I am equally embarrassed that Birmingham and Montgomery are in the top 15.  In Birmingham there are 73 fast food “restaurants” for every 100,000 residents and Montgomery has 62 per 100K.

This is so disheartening to me.  America, and the Third Coast especially, have no reason to be in such a hurry.  20% of us don’t even have jobs so clearly we have time to make a sandwich.  I am not saying that we abandon them altogether but we must exercise moderation.  We owe ourselves better.

It’s hard to see the draw of fast food anymore.  The two things fast food offered – speed and convenience – went away decades ago.  As has actual food at many of them.  Taco Bell was recently under fire for using unapproved genetically modified material in their taco shells and for only having 80% beef in their 100% beef taco filling.  Well Taco Bell has admitted 80% but independent labs have found that the number is closer to 36%.  Virtually everything you buy at McDonald’s and Burger King is more corn than whatever they call it – according to The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan it was revealed that the Chicken McNugget is actually 56% genetically modified corn.

And just so you know, genetically modified corn is not real corn.  GM corn has proven to be the source of two decades worth of e coli outbreaks.  GM corn, in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), is also the root cause of the nation’s obesity epidemic as well as the increase in liver disease, pancreatic cancer and type 2 diabetes.  In this era of corrupt government it should come as no surprise that Monsanto, the company that invented GM corn, has purchased itself a rather large office space in Washington – they call it the USDA.

Think about that the next time you duck into the drive-thru.  I’m not saying don’t order, just think about it.  Here’s another short video from our pals Burger and Soda:

SNL Takes Shot At HFCS Commercials

Since it first aired in the 1970’s Saturday Night Live has tackled issues the regular media won’t touch.  From time to time they have also been guilty of trading their ethics in order to advance their personal political agendas (especially the past four or five years).  But they still occasionally take on “the man” on controversial issues.

Recently SNL spoofed those highly unethical Sweet Surprise disinformation commercials the folks at the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) lobby put together in an attempt to confuse the general public about the ever increasing dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (aka HFCS, aka Corn Syrup).  This is not only a big deal because it is the first real attention the national media has given to the issue but also because it seems to buck at SNL’s recent trend of blindly supporting the Obama Administration regardless of its obvious failures in certain areas.

You see, Monsanto and other large agribusiness companies (the ones who profit from HFCS) were among the largest contributors to the Obama candidacy.  In return for their financial backing they were rewarded by getting to put their own people in charge of the government agencies that are charged with regulating them.  The number of agribusiness lobbyists now operating within this administration is staggering with the two most notable moles being USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and FDA Food Czar Michael Taylor.  The result is that neither department can be considered reliable anymore.

I was recently at an event with a number of food writers.  Most worked directly for large publications.  They related tales of how food writers were being harassed by Sweet Surprise anytime they wrote something unflattering about HFCS.  If they wrote an opinion column they were hit with libel suits.  If they dared to publish any of the mountains of scientific research that reveals the truth about HFCS they are getting buried with cease and desist orders and other frivolous ligation.

From a legal standpoint none of these suits have a leg to stand on.  Opinion columns (like this one) are just that, a statement of opinion and are Constitutionally protected.  And it has never been a crime to print scientific results.  That isn’t the point, CRA knows they don’t stand a chance of winning any of these suits.  The point is to harass the parent organizations into telling their food writers to just leave well enough alone.  It is litigious terrorism.

Well, chalk one up for the good guys:

HFCS Producers Revamping Disinformation Ads

The Corn Refiners Association, makers of those humorous but scientifically unfounded “Sweet Surprise” commercials are changing their approach.  In their first barrage of commercials meant to confuse the public about the many harmful effects of their product, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), they ran ads featuring two attractive 30-somethings engaging in a conversation that went something like this:

Actor 1: You want a soda?

Actor 2: Are you kidding?  That has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it.  You know what they say about that stuff right?

Actor 1: No what?

Actor 2: Er, uh. [shrugs]

The gist of those first commercials was that if you didn’t know about the dangers that extensive scientific research has uncovered about the effects of HFCS on the human body then it must not exist.  That’s a heck of an argument to make about the safety of your product isn’t?  “Oh, you didn’t know that Duke University research indicates HFCS leads to liver ailments similar to those suffered by long term alcoholics and that a Princeton study has found that subjects that consume HFCS show considerably more weight gain than those who consume an equal amount of table sugar?  Well, then it must not be true since you didn’t know about it.”

Since putting the big bucks into those ads meant to confuse the facts, the Corn Refiners Association has seen some disturbing results – for them anyway.  The public wasn’t fooled and food manufacturers are responding to the cry for foods without HFCS.  Hunt’s Ketchup is now the only major ketchup brand to not contain HFCS.  The Jones Soda Co., makers of premium carbonated soft drinks, does not use HFCS in any of their products.  Jones even has a list of links to the multitude of scientific research that debunks the claims of the HFCS manufactures that their product is safe and natural.

Dr. Pepper with sugarThen the big bomb was dropped this past summer.  Dr. Pepper, one of the most popular soft drinks in the US, announced in a July press release that to celebrate their 125th anniversary that they were replacing HFCS with sugar.  Other factors have lead to soft drink makers to move away from HFCS and back to sugar like proposed changes to SNAP program regulations that would prohibit food stamps from being used to purchase soft drinks.  This is long overdue.

With the failure of their Sweet Surprise campaign they have shifted gears but are still employing the same tactic of subversive disinformation.  Their first move, as reported by AP, is that they are changing the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup to Corn Sugar.  This clever ploy will allow products to claim they have no HFCS when in fact they do.

They have asked for an official name change from the FDA.   They even went and started a new web site www.cornsugar.com.  Too bad because the FDA already has an established definition for corn sugar and it is not the same as HFCS.  No doubt, having an inside man in the FDA (Obama-appointed, Monsanto-lobbyist Michael Taylor) will undoubtedly lead to a redefining of the phrase “corn sugar.”

The new commercials feature actors pretending to be concerned parents who are confused about the effects of HFCS.  They plug the disinformation web site and even pretend that the scientific information listed there is from independent sources rather studies paid for by the the Corn Refiners Association to produce favorable findings.

I would like to post one of those commercials here for you but for some reason the Corn Refiners Association doesn’t want these commercials being embedded on other sites.  That seems odd that you want your message getting out there and here someone is willing to put your commercial on their site for free and you refuse to let them.  Kind of leaves you wondering what they are hiding doesn’t?

If you want to view the new spot you can venture over to the youtube and check the HFCS Disinformation Ad out yourself and do what I did – vote it a thumbs down and then flag it for being a scam. Or don’t, suit yourself.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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