I am curious about the expression, "Part of this complete breakfast." The way it comes up is, my 5-year-old will be watching TV cartoon shows in the morning, and they'll show a commercial for a children's compressed breakfast compound such as "Froot Loops" or "Lucky Charms, " and they always show it sitting on a table next to a some actual food such as eggs, and the announcer always says: "Part of this complete breakfast." Don't they really mean, "Adjacent to this complete breakfast, " or "On the same table as this complete breakfast"? And couldn't they make essentially the same claim if, instead of Froot Loops, they put a can of shaving cream there, or a dead bat?Breakfast cereals aimed at kids tend to be candy in a bowl — bright colors, cute cartoon mascots, and of course tons of sugar. But you've got to sell it to the parents, who aren't going to invest $3.99 in future dental bills. So how can you, the advertiser, convince Mom that Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs are actually harmless, even healthy, and have all the vitamins and minerals her growing kid needs? Simple. Just set your sugar-laden product (in a nice place setting) alongside toast, bacon, cheese, pancakes, fruit, vegetables, orange juice, milk, etc., and advertise that the cereal is an essential part of this complete breakfast. After all, if you need Choco Woofers to complete a breakfast that looks pretty solid already, they must be perfectly healthful, right? The claim is technically a legal requirement, but, like a Stealth Cigarette Commercial, the companies have hidden the obvious beneath the implications. (After all — really! — if you're still hungry after eating a bowl of cereal, do you cook yourself some eggs and bacon? Or make toast? Or do you just grab the cereal box and pour yourself another bowl?) For example, the nutrition panels on cereal boxes in the UK tend to include the vitamins and calcium from average milk on top of those present in the dry cereal by itself, but this is more reasonable. Canadian and US labels show both the pre- and post-milk values. Compounding the issue is the fact that, in the 1950s and 60s, having sugar added to a breakfast cereal was actually its selling point. You normally added your own sugar to your cereal anyway, and a pre-sweetened cereal meant you could save a step (and that parents could know how much added sugar their kids were getting). By the end of the 1970s, though, sugar had become demonized, so sugary cereals took steps to downplay their sugar content: They changed their names (e.g. from Sugar Smacks to Honey Smacks, or from Sugar Frosted Flakes to just Frosted Flakes), and they started splitting the sugar into multiple types so that "sugar" no longer appeared at the top of the ingredients list (e.g. instead of being "Sugar, wheat flour, oat flour, ...", the ingredients now read "Wheat and oat flour, sugar, glucose-fructose, ...", even though the contents of the box were identical). Of course, it's possible the guy's barely-comprehensible spiel actually meant "apart of this complete breakfast" — hey, what's a little grammatical error between friends? A newer variant of this is pulled by health products, particularly diet pills and nutritional supplements, where the ad claims the product will help you lose weight and/or be healthy when taken "with diet and exercise"; of course, it's the diet and exercise that provide most of the effect, with the pills or nutritional supplements doing little if any actual work. (And they have a necessary legal obligation of their own, in that they are "not intended to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease".) A Subtrope of False Cause, as correlation (a fruit next to the sugary cereal) does not equal causation (the source of the nutrition in the breakfast equally coming from both fruit and cereal).
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