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Lite Creme
D-Lite Creme? Are any of those actual words?

...[my son's] diet consists entirely of products which advertise on Saturday morning cartoon shows and which, for legal reasons, have their names spelled wrong (Noo Creemy Choc'n'Cheez Lumps O'Froot)

The implication of qualities or ingredients in a product that aren't there because of certain words or spellings of words that vary from the standard. This is usually done to get around government regulations on truth in advertising laws. This is how you end up with products like fruit/citrus "punch" when a drink contains no actual fruit juice, "choc" or "choco" when something contains little to no actual chocolate, and "creme" spread that contains no dairy cream. The intent of the law was to prevent advertisers from using words like "chocolate" and "cream" to describe products that didn't contain the ingredients mentioned, but the feds didn't count on consumer illiteracy; too many people now assume that "froot with choco creme" is the same thing as "fruit with chocolate cream", and assume they're getting vitamins and minerals they really aren't. And advertisers happily take advantage of it.

Generally speaking, added quantifiers indicate lower amounts of an actual ingredient. If the product also uses Xtreme Kool Letterz, any nutritional value and unadded flavors are likely an unintentional side-effect. You're probably better off eating Soylent Green. (Much more nutritious and tasty than Soylent Yellow and Red!)

Consumers during the age of mass food production in the 19th century lobbied against artificial foods being sold alongside 'normal' food and demanded such food be distinctly labeled; margarine, for example, received a push to be dyed pink so consumers would not confuse it for actual butter, and for a while it was illegal in some places to sell margarine that was dyed butter-yellow (It's naturally white, and even today, margarine is dyed bright yellow whereas natural butter is pale). Company lobbyists learned using Lite Creme was an easy escape, as no one wanted an ominous 'artificial' label on their product. Official nutritional labels on products are somewhat more informative, though overly technical writing can obscure this for the same reasons. Ingredients being listed in decreasing order does not specify actual amounts, nor does the use of several names to indicate variations on essentially the same ingredient.

Note Lite Creme products may in fact taste like 'normal' foods, and brands being sold directly as food replacements (such as vegan) directly advertise as such. In general, as All-Natural Snake Oil can tell you, there's nothing particularly wrong with something being a processed food in and of itself, and things that are "natural" can be just as unhealthy as Froot Choco-Cheez. Generally though, Lite Creme in the public image brings to mind bizarre concoctions of usually unhealthy additives.

Compare Bland-Name Product, when your Froot 'n' Nutz Choco-bar is made by "Cadberry's."

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • At one time, "Lite" had no meaning and could be legally used on packages of lard. "Light" often referred solely to color, and not caloric content. Consumer attention paid to this term, though, has resulted in changes to marketing and (in 1993) to the relevant FDA regulations.
    • A special exemption was made for "Light" olive oil: it still retains its label, and it still has the same caloric content as any other kind of oil—lots, since it's a type of fat. The term refers to its taste and colour: it has a more mild flavour and tends to be a pale yellow-green rather than the deep green of stronger oils. It's not much good on taste, but you can use it for higher-temperature applications than the stronger stuff.
  • In regards to food, government regulations prevent using the word "cream" when the product contains none. "Creme" is used whenever the impression of a creamy texture or flavor is desired, but the product in question contains no actual cream or, usually, dairy product (and in some cases, isn't even edible). Creme snack cakes usually contain long-lasting vegetable shortening, giving them a potentially long shelf life. "Creme soda" has a slightly different origin, as it is named after the ice cream traditionally added to the original drink.
    • There is historical precedent for using "creme" (e.g., creme de cassis) or "cream" (cream-style corn, once known as "creamed corn") in reference to nondairy foods that have a more-or-less creamy texture.
  • Probably the best known indicator of a lack of any actual food product is the term "Cheez."
    • If the phrase "Cheese Food" appears anywhere on the package, it may be neither. It sounds like cheese food isn't cheese, it is what cheese eats. In fact "Cheese Food" is real cheese... kind of. It consists of at least half melted, reconstituted cheese; and no more than half other, um, things.
    • "Cheese food product" contains less than half cheese, and sometimes no cheese at all. In fact, any food with "product" in it is a worry.
    • When James Kraft invented Velveeta, the words "processed cheese" that appear on the packaging were a compromise with the court system. The rest of the cheese industry had been lobbying to force him to label it "embalmed cheese." Technically, Velveeta is based on a pretty standard cheese sauce recipe. It's got extra protein (in the form of whey and nonfat dry milk) added, so it'll set up into a semi-solid loaf, and instead of the roux note  a normal cheese sauce uses, it uses a starch-like gum called "alginate". Cheez Whiz is basically the same thing with the cream swapped out for vegetable oil, and flavors like mustard seed and Worcestershire sauce added. Neither is very good for you, mainly because of the salt and fat.note 
    • There is a "cheez-y" food that is a low-fat Parmesan imitation, for sprinkling on pasta and such. The actual description from the actual label? Parmesan-style cheese-grated topping. The emphasis is theirs.
      • The actual Kraft Parmesan grated cheese cannot be legally called Parmesan cheese in Europe due to a law allowing only cheese from the Parma region of Italy to bear that name. Kraft got around this restriction by simply calling it "Parma Cheese."
    • In Norway, many products named "pizzaost" (ost=cheese) were legally forced to change names, because they legally couldn't call them "cheese". If in Norway, beware: never buy anything called "pizza-topping" or just "revet" (shredded) instead of "revet ost" (shredded cheese).
  • Also from Norway, fruit-flavoured "brus" (fizzy drink/pop) can only be labelled "appelsinbrus" (orange fizzy drink) if they contain a certain percentage of actual juice of the fruit in question. Since they usually don't, they have to be labelled "brus med appelsinsmak" (fizzy drink with orange flavour) instead.
  • An item can only be labeled as "chocolate" if it contains both cocoa solids/powder and cocoa butter. No such rule exists for foods labeled "chocolate-flavored" or "fudge", so beware.
    • "Chocolate-flavored" usually means that the product contains chocolate liquor, but replaces cocoa butter with carnauba wax in order to reduce fat and improve tempering. It's usually better for you than real chocolate, since it doesn't have an edible fat and still contains all the caffeine and serotonin mimics of regular chocolate.
    • "Chocolatey". That usually means "Cocoa-flavored lard".
    • In Australia, you can sell "Choc". As in "Fondant-filled Choc Bar" or "Sponge cake with choc coating"
    • Unfortunately, none of the "chocolate" legal restrictions apply to white chocolate (cocoa butter) in the USA, so most white chocolate sold here... is not.
      • Some candy stores, such as the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, refer to white chocolate as "white confection." Most people don't seem to care.
  • There have been at least four attempts to sue the makers of Froot Loops due to the lack of actual fruit in their product. So far, none have been successful.
  • George Carlin had a good routine about this.
    "'Lemony taste'. What does that mean? Right. It means no fucking lemons!"
  • If you see the phrase "juice extract" appearing on the label of a "100% fruit juice" beverage, then no matter what else the package may claim, sugar has been added... but since that sugar was extracted from juice, it somehow doesn't count. You can even eat a brownie from an alleged "health food" store that contains no sugar, but copious amounts of "cane juice extract"... yeah. Figure that one out.
    • The terms for "cane" sugar aren't law: Cane sugar and cane syrup could be unprocessed, leaving in the molasses and its nutrients (not to mention a lot of flavor) or it could be pure sucrose ala table sugar derived from sugar cane rather than sugar beets.
    • "Pear juice extract" and "grape juice extract" are two of the biggest culprits here. In most cases, they just mean "no sucrose," allowing them to claim that there's no sugar while using a slightly different type of sugar instead. Conversely, some companies will take great pains to point out that they only use real sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup. (Namely, they use glucose — another half of the common sugar (sucrose) molecule, which consists of glucose and fructose bonded together.)
      • There is in fact a difference. Fructose has clinically shown to induce obesity far faster than glucose.
  • Pet food suffers the same problem, where aside from the organization of the ingredient list the qualifiers are regulated but not generally known to the public: "Beef", "Beef Dinner", "Chicken and Beef", "Beef-flavored" all designate an increasingly smaller amount of actual beef.
    • Also, any sort of "meat byproducts" is generally bad news. By-products means skin, organs and bone meal; feathers and beaks don't make it that far into the process. Your pet is likely to not give two shits, because they like that stuff just as much as muscle tissuenote  — but depending on which wibbly bits it is, it may not be good for their health if they eat nothing but. If it just says "meat" without specifying what animal it comes from, anything goes.
  • On the human food side of things, "Ham", "Ham in natural juices", "Ham, water added", and "Ham and water product" have connotations of less ham, in that order.
    • Which is not itself necessarily a bad thing. If you like what's also known as "city ham", as in the moist stuff put on deli sandwiches and served at holidays like Christmas and Easter, "ham in natural juices" is the highest-quality available offering. "Ham", by itself, refers in the United States exclusively to "country ham", which is the dried stuff that has to be either braised to hell and back as its cooking method or else served sliced thin, as in prosciutto di Parma in Italian cuisine. That said, "ham, water added" and especially "ham and water product" pretty much universally denote hambominations.
  • If the food in question has chemicals in it, but the chemicals were extracted from naturally occurring plants or fruits or what have you, that food can be marketed as "All natural". If the food contains the exact same chemicals, but the chemicals were built from scratch, it's artificial now. As one food chemist put it, "'All natural' just means 'we did this inefficiently'".
  • "Natural flavors" rarely seems to specify which flavors. For example, 7-Up currently touts their product as using only natural flavors... and the side of the can also specifies it contains no juice, leading one to wonder exactly what "natural" product is being used to flavor the soda if it's not lime and lemon juice. In many cases, there's no citrus juice in a citrus-flavored food item because the citrus oil (which comes from the rind, rather than the flesh) is a more effective flavoring agent.
    • Also, watch word placement — while "natural flavor" denotes a flavor that is natural, "natural lemon flavor", for example, denotes a natural flavor that tastes "like lemons" but may not necessarily have ever been lemons. Several members of the mint and sage families have strong citrus components (e.g lemon verbena). Along with a history of enhancing lemonades and teas, it's possible that such herbs have been used as nondescript "natural flavors".
  • The flavoring Vanilla is derived from orchids in the genus Vanilla native to Mexico. It contains a mixture of several hundred different compounds in addition to vanillin. Vanillin is the major flavor that you can taste from Vanilla. However, if you create vanillin through chemical synthesis, it is labeled an artificial flavor.
    • By the way, a lot of "artificial" vanilla extract (especially from Mexico, interestingly enough) is actually "extracted" from wood as a byproduct of paper making. The chemical they're extracting from the wood is the same as one of the chemicals they extract from vanilla orchids, so don't panic. Of course, the real stuff tastes a lot better but is tremendously more expensive—vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron because of the labor-intensive way of obtaining and curing vanilla beans (actually seed pods), hence the huge demand for cheaper alternatives. Also, while most vanilla flavoring nowadays comes from wood, a small amount of the stuff produced in the world is actually fermented beaver secretions. (This does not harm the beaver—they just let the critter hang around somewhere, then collect the liquids it naturally emits.) This technique has been used for French perfumes for at least 200 years.
  • Another common one is "(X) flavour" as in "chocolate-flavour" or "banana-flavour". Something described as "chocolate flavour" likely contains no actual chocolate and may not taste anything like chocolate at all. It's probably the right colour, though. For example: "Strawberry" flavor — such as that used in Strawberry Yoo-Hoo — rarely tastes anything like real strawberries. Similarly, "Watermelon Flavor" rarely tastes like real watermelon. And "Peach Flavor"... urgh. The point here is that rather than using real strawberries, the strongest of the thousands of chemicals which give them their flavour — possibly only one or two — are isolated or synthesised to give the flavouring agent.
    • That's exactly how it is. More realistic artificial flavorings are complex blends of various chemicals that should be carefully balanced to give a proper representation of the taste and aroma profiles of a real deal. Flavor chemists that create them are not unlike perfume makers, and they should have not only a good chemical knowledge, but also well-trained senses of taste and smell, or employ a specialist tasters. Cheaper flavorings, on the other hand, use one or two chemicals that give something broadly similar to the intended product (sometimes very broadly) and call it a day. Strawberry flavor is notorious for being a very complex blend of various tastes and aromas and is very difficult to imitate convincingly, so hardly anyone bothers.
  • "Bac-Os" are vegan. There's nothing in them but vegetable matter and artificial additives. They're supposed to be bacon bits! If the ingredients list doesn't so much as say "Natural and artificial flavors". There is something disturbing about an imitation meat product that wasn't made for the specific purpose of being an imitation meat product.

    Bacon Salt actually boasts that it's kosher and vegetarian. The packet for Chicken, Bacon and similar varieties of 'Super Noodles' (isn't that a name that just inspires confidence?) used to quite prominently display that they were "suitable for vegetarians". Quite skewed advertising priorities there. There are types of cream cheese frosting that are vegan. And "creme" cookies.

    Oreos are vegan. The creme is palm oil.
  • Long John Silver's, a fast food seafood restaurant, advertises that they serve langostino lobster, another term for squat lobster, a species closer to hermit crabs than what we would think of as lobsters.
    • This is pretty common in marketing sea food. When it was discovered that the evil-sounding Patagonian Toothfish could be profitably raised in fish farms, its name got transmogrified into "Chilean sea bass" on the way to the grocery store, and "dolphinfish" became "mahi mahi".
    • Not that it always a bad thing. King crabs, for example, have, strictly speaking, nothing to do with true crabs, belonging to the entirely different family of crustaceans, and are biologically closer to crayfish than to real crabs. It doesn't change the fact that it's one of the most sought after crab varieties and commands large premiums in the market.
  • "Vegan" / "Vegetarian" is dangerous when preceding a food product that shouldn't be. Vegan apples are fine, vegan mashed potatoes probably good, vegan chicken parmesan... not so much. Often overlaps with "food product", as in "Vegan Frozen Dessert Product". In fairness, the people buying vegan chicken parmesan usually want a meat substitute.
    • Which is why it will probably be labeled, at least in the US, "Chik'n".
  • In New York, wine can only be sold in dedicated liquor stores. Grocery stores can sell beverages that are up to 6% alcohol by volume, including beer, hard cider, and "wine products." Please don't confuse Chateau Diana Wine Product for actual wine.
    • Many US jurisdictions make a distinction between beer/wine and hard liquor, with licensing and fees being stricter for the latter. However, you can buy drinks that are essentially identical to mixed drinks at beer/wine stores, the only distinction being that the alcohol comes from a "malt beverage" (beer without the hops or anything that makes beer good) process rather than vodka.
  • In Canada, buying "maple butter" is definitely better than buying "map-o-spread". Speaking of maple products, be careful when buying maple syrup in the US. "Real Maple Syrup" is not. "Maple Syrup", by contrast, is. And "Natural Maple Syrup" is just a bad idea. If you don't want to worry about it (and who does?), just get corn syrup. But not "Corn-Flavored Syrup", which is neither corn syrup, nor delicious.

    Look for the USDA sticker and classification in the US. If it says Grade A/B Light/Medium/Dark Amber, it's good. (But if you're really particular, pay close attention to the label. Dark Amber has a much stronger maple flavor than Light Amber.)

    Not surprisingly, the Canadian government has an entire sub-department dedicated to ensuring the purity and quality of Canadian-produced maple syrup. Any hint of a company selling ersatz maple syrup will bring the wrath of God (or at least the Department of Agriculture - sometimes they're hard to tell apart) down on someone's sorry head.
  • In Mexico, you can find a fried taco-like snack where one of the flavors is not "guacamole", but "huakamolez". The description reads something like "Huakamolez-flavored rolled fried corn snacks." Mmmm ... Whack-A-Mole flavor. For some reason, in the Netherlands, it's really hard to find guacamole that has more than a few percent of actual avocados.
    • The reason is very simple. Avocados don't keep that well, so they're usually hellishly expensive outside of Mexico (or their other producer countries for that matter—one of the main reasons most of the US gets fresh avocados at all is that California and to a lesser extent New Mexico, Texas, and Florida are avocado country, so the fruit can be shipped while still (relatively) good).
  • If you're looking for fruit juice from something other than apples, grapes, pineapples, or oranges, it's very improbable you'll find it. Instead, you're likely to see things such as "apricot nectar," "pear cocktail," "lemon drink," "blueberry punch," and "cherry blend." All of these will probably consist of as little of the top-billed ingredient as legally possible (usually in the form of pulp,) large amounts of filler juices (usually apple or white grape), lots of water, and sugar or other sweetener.

    Some of this is justifiable, because not all juices are good to drink. It's not hard to find lemon or lime juice, but they are ingredients, not beverages. And cranberry juice is unpalatable by itself. A lot of unsweetened juices from the more exotic fruits (meaning basically anything — not apples, grapes, oranges, or pineapples) do serve as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine, as their taste can be similar enough for the (presumed) intended purpose.
    • Ironically with some of these juices, the higher-quality ones have significant amounts of cane sugar while the "100% Juice [flavor of] Cranberry" only taste like their filler juices.
  • Boneless chicken nuggets with hot sauce on them tend to be called "wyngs" or "wingz."
    • These are sometimes marketed as "tenders," meant to be evocative of tenderloins without actually promising to be that particular cut of meat. They're likely processed from scraps from breasts, thighs, and others that were trimmed away from other cuts. "Breast tenders" and "white meat tenders" are similarly evocative of tenderloins.
    • Unlike the meat from a pig or cow where the tenderloin name actually means the most tender piece of the animal's meat, a chicken tenderloin is functionally identical to the breast for food purposes. If you cut chicken breast into tenderloin sized pieces then cooked it no-one could tell the difference. Butchers usually include the tenderloin when they sell bulk breast chicken. Pick between breast and tenderloin based solely on price and what you are doing with the chicken.
  • Meat pies, the Antipodean classic. Miscellaneous bits like tendons, ears, skin and snouts count as "meat". The meat may also come from camels and other random animals, instead of one of the more common domestic livestock, and even then the pie only has to be about a quarter animal bits to qualify as a meat pie. Mmmm, camel noses and soy filler. Delicious.
  • In the United States, Apple Juice means Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Apple Drink, however anything labeled Orange Drink, Grape Drink, etc. is likely to be mostly sugar water with a small amount of juice, sometimes 2% juice. Sometimes none, just artificial flavor.
  • The dairy aisle of many grocery stores also has Chocolate Drink right next to the Chocolate Milk. (Sure, it has real chocolate, but not much else.)
  • In the U.S., Whole Wheat bread does not mean it is just whole grains. Unless a product says 100% Whole Wheat or 100% Whole Grain, it can be 1% whole grain and 99% refined grain. There are products that say "Made with grains." You know what else is? Soda pop. Also, any grain product that includes the USDA Food Pyramid is probably a refined grain.
  • In Australia, look out for "Reconstituted Orange Juice". If it's the first ingredient, it basically means that it's diluted. One outrageous example is a brand that advertises itself as "Only Juice". The ingredients list has multiple preservatives and artificial flavours.
    • Not only diluted, but powdered (or at least concentrated) first. That's the main meaning of the term "reconstituted".
  • Potted Meat Food Product. "There aren't too many products that feel the need to reassure you that they are, in fact, 'food'."
    • "Potted Meat Food Product": Something that's so bad, they don't even come up with a brand name for it.
    • There is also the Mexican hot dog manufacturer FUD (pronounced "food"), a budget brand.
  • In Hungary there is "morning drink" and "cocoa drink" that look like milk but contain none, and "cocoa milk mass" that looks like chocolate but contains none. (The actual "D-Lite" phenomenon is nonexistent because the language doesn't allow most words to be spelled in multiple ways, but the usage of "inexact" words and circumscription serves the same purpose.)
  • You can often find a product in grocery stores sold next to the ice cream, in containers indistinguishable from the ice cream containers, that is rather unnervingly not referred to as "ice cream" but as "frozen dairy dessert", mainly because it doesn't contain any cream or for that matter any milk fat at all. And then, to provide for the same creamy consistency they put a lot of synthetic additives there.
    • In most cases there are very few, as they are not needed. The producers simply use margarine instead of butter and turn a skim milk into "cream" with vegetable oil and egg/soy lecithin.
    • Similarly, many confections (pre-packaged cones and bars, for instance) now proudly sport themselves as "Light ice cream". This is a bit of an inversion of the trope, however, as they haven't changed any recipes but are instead now happily showing off to a health-conscious public what was once a turn-off to the customers, under the (often-correct) assumption that if you're going to be eating ice cream there's no sense in being "light" about it.
    • In 2008, Nestlé began cutting costs in its Dreyer's/Edy's ice cream brands by switching out milk and cream with skim milk and whey (a byproduct of cheese), respectively. This is labeled "frozen dairy dessert".
  • If the stuff you're buying is in Spanish, beware of the word 'sucedáneo', which is a pretty obscure word for 'substitute', and 'producto', which means 'product'. That thing in your cart? It isn't butter, just a close enough substitute. Chocolate milk? Umm, no, just a milk product with something else (they won't tell you what) as a substitute of chocolate.
  • An actual medical doctor who specialises in diet is a dietician. Anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist" — the term simply describes a particular kind of quack.
  • "Vegetable" protein doesn't mean tomatoes and spinach. It means soy.
    • Vegetable oil, on the other hand, can mean any of the thousands of different oils of plant origin. But mostly it's either soy, corn or sunflower. Note that all of these are technically made from seeds — actual vegetables have usually too little oil to think of, except olives and avocados—and botanically, those are fruit.
      • Canola oil is the more common ingredient for vegetable oil. There is no such vegetable as canola, it's just an easier name to market than 'genetically modified rapeseed'.
      • Canola needn't to be genetically modified. Technically, it's an abbreviation of "CANadian Oil Low Acid", referring to the unpleasantly bitter and reportedly mildly toxic (its health effects are now disputed) erucic acid, that makes rapeseed oil unpalatable as of itself. So the oil from any low-erucic varieties of rape (2% in Canada and US, 5% in Europe), be they genetically modified, or simply bred for low-EA content, could be named canola. Well, technically only if produced in Canada, but it long has become a genericized trademark.
  • Smart Balance describes 2% milk as having "more saturated fat than a small order of french fries". What they don't say is that french fries are cooked in partially hydrogenated soybean oil (less saturated fat than butter or lard, usually; more than regular soybean oil), or that the big problem with french fries is the calories.
  • Russia has a strict food labeling regulations, so visiting a supermarket can in a pinch substitute for a food processing class. For example only milk that never been through any modification (except fat separation) could be legally labeled "milk". If some milk fat was added to it, it's "normalized milk", if it was powdered at some point, it's "reconstituted milk", etc. So to escape stigma producers immediately turned to the same trick as Americans — they proudly display their (slightly modified) appellation as a brand, putting the real designation down there in a very fine print.
    • "Yoghurt" needs to contain actual yoghurt bacteria, or else it doesn't count. "Frughurt" etc. on the other hand...
    • Condensed milk with sugar is basically Russia's peanut butter for all means and purposes. As such is even has a somewhat affectionate nickname of "condensey" (zguschenka). Pretty convenient to put that nickname on the cover, because as it does not feature the word "milk" it does not need to contain any milk.
    • The Russian surrogate makers have managed to turn to their advantage the liberal (almost to the same degree as in Italian language) use of diminutives in Russian. Thus "smetana" (sour cream) is at least supposed to be a real deal, but "smetanka" (which, by the way doesn't mean "little (pack or jar of) sour cream", but is only used in a mildly affectionate context) may and does contain any amount of vegetal thickeners and fats.
    • There is also a substantive vs adjective trick. It seems that the use of substantive nouns is subject to regulations, but the use of adjectives isn't. It has lead to some rebrandings, with a creme'n'froots "Chudo-tvorog" (literally "Wonder cottage cheese") becoming "Tvorozhnoye chudo" (lit. "Cottage-cheeseous wonder").
    • The more common use of this trick is adjectivization + the word "product", "drink" and so on. "Kvassous drink" is not kvass, "butterous spread" is not butter, "chocolateous product" is not chocolate and "mayonnaiseous sauce" is not mayonnaise.
    • Another trick is archaic or pseudo-archaic spelling, i.e. Ye Olde Butcherede Russiane. "ПортвейнЪ" (roughly, "Ye Porte Whynne") is not port wine, but rather bum wine, probably produced from the byproducts of canning fruit.
    • Let's not even mention the product called "Partwine 777". Even the actual "Port Wine 777" is shoddy bum wine. "Partwine" is a 16% solution of ethanol with chemical flavoring.
    • There are even weirder cases. Until the regulations were introduced, a mix of goat and cow milk had been marketed as "Goat milk". Since then, it's labelled (as per regs) as the "Goat quality" (believe me, in Russian it sounds as funny as in English).
    • Similarly, in Israel, milk with additives such as vitamins, iron and calcium must be labeled as a "milk drink" instead of just milk. This means that by Israeli standards, virtually all milk sold in the United States would have to be sold as "milk drink" because American milk is generally enriched with Vitamin D, and all skimmed or partially skimmed milk is also enriched with Vitamin A.
  • In late 2010, it was claimed that the "beef" in Taco Bell's food actually consisted of about 35% beef and the rest various chemicals, and thus couldn't be legally classified as beef. The chain subtly got around this by using the word "beefy" in their ads. A surprising number of people, particularly dietitians and some more scientifically minded foodies, actually applauded the revelation.
    • Though they could have reduced it to 33% and claimed that their tacos et al. contain "B33f."
    • Taco Bell says its taco filling contains 88 percent USDA-inspected beef and the rest is water, spices and a mixture of oats, starch and other ingredients that contribute to what it calls the "quality of its product." Note that almost all processed prepared beef has spices and fillers. Also, for comparison, the Taco Meat in Jack in the Box tacos is about half beef and half Soy Protein.
    • Likewise, some of its in-store posters proclaim the "Mexican-inspired" selections available.
  • A common myth about Kentucky Fried Chicken is that the chain's name was changed to KFC, because they're not legally allowed to include "Chicken" in the title. The rumors said that Yum! Foods, the umbrella company that owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, had genetically engineered "Creature 57", variously suspected to be a headless and eight-legged chicken or some sort of shmoo-like monstrosity whose flesh could be processed in different ways to create the various meat-ish substances that their various chains use. note 
  • A certain ''healthful'' chocolate cereal contains as its first ingredient "Organic, All-Natural Evaporated Cane Juice". Which is basically a really, really fancy and circumlocutory way to say "sugar".
  • In the UK there are incredibly stringent guidelines as to what can legally be described as a Meat Sausage, so the cheaper variations (often sold en-mass by catering wholesalers) get around this by using various other phrases to describe the product. Bangers is one popular term used, as it's also a popular British slang term for actual sausages. A documentary by The BBC a few years ago found that these products are mostly water and grain with very little meat in them (and often said meat is not fit for human consumption). Basically high fat emulsified offal tubes.
  • Do not confuse "krab" or "crab sticks" with "crab." "Crab" comes from an actual crustacean. "Krab" or "crab sticks" are actually pollock fish ground into a paste and formed into something resembling crab meat in terms of flavor...and a tube of string cheese in terms of appearance.
    • Nowadays you'd be lucky if you happen to find an actual fish there. Apparently, good ol' soy protein and enterprising use of additives/flavorings allows to make a crab stick without any animal matter.
      • Krab, unlike real crab, can be certified kosher— making it worthwhile for someone who wants to preserve the flavor of what would be a trayf dish.
  • A Finnish butter/vegetable oil mixture called "Voimariini" was forced to change its name due to it containing the Finnish word for "butter" (="voi") despite not being wholly butter. The change was due to an EU regulation prohibiting such "misleading" naming; the not-actually-butter in question had been called the same for about twenty years before the change and more or less everyone knew what it was.
  • The Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru changed its name from Iron Brew in the 1940s, partly because the new name was easier to trademark, but also because of proposed new advertising laws; it wasn't brewed. (It does, however, contain a tiny amount of ammonium ferric citrate.) The label currently declares that it's "Bru'd" in Scotland. The highly caffeinated, fluorescent orange drink tastes quite a bit like iron...or possibly blood.
    • They got to keep their slogan, "It's made in Scotland from girders!", but in at least some countries it's exported to the label now contains a disclaimer that it's not a source of dietary iron.
  • Potato Chips vs 'Potato Crisps'. The ones in the can, like Pringles and Lay's Stax, can't legally be called 'chips' because they're pressed, ground up potatoes with other ingredients mixed in. That being said, Pringles originally just called them crisps because "Pringles" was a classy British-sounding word and the word "crisps" was used to reinforce that classy air.
  • Lean Textured Beef, or pink slime has been used as an additive to ground beef and pet foods since early in the millennium. Composed of parts no one would consider meat and treated with chemicals no one would consider edible, the beef lobby insists that it qualifies as beef but no one has attempted to sell it by itself to consumers.
  • When General Mills revived Fruit Brute cereal in Fall 2013, they had to change the name to Frute Brute, since none of their monster cereals contain real fruit.
  • 5-Hour Energy shot-drinks advertise themselves as having "about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee." They're actually referring to high-grade espresso, not normal coffee you'd see in diners or hamburger restaurants. Each bottle contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, a higher concentration than all other energy drinks on the market.
  • An aversion to much of the negative imagery surrounding "artificial" versus "natural": Artificial almond flavor is made from crude oil, but it's actually better for your health than natural almond flavor, as natural almond flavor contains a lot of hydrogen cyanide (the same cyanide that's associated with suicide and really is extremely toxic) whereas almond flavor derived from crude oil contains no hydrogen cyanide at all.

    Comic Books 
  • Spoofed in Judge Dredd where the fizzy wine-like beverage is called Shampane. note 
    • Endemic in Dredd, since it's a Soylent Soy future. Mockchoc is another one.
  • Sam & Max go to the carnival to bust a bootleg corndog seller, whose establishment proudly proclaims "It's fooode!" (trademark).

    Literature 
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Murder Must Advertise Lord Peter, who is working undercover at an ad agency as a copywriter explains the limitations and requirements of the English labeling laws in some detail to his sister and brother-in-law while visiting them.
  • Discworld has CMOT Dibbler's genuine pig sausages. Not exactly pork, but definitely pig.
    • Seldom Bucket, the cheesemaker from Maskerade, has an advertisment in The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide for his "Mostly Cheese Spreads".

     Live Action TV 
  • In the early 90s Comedy Central briefly had a show called Comedy Product.
    • There was also the activist/comedy show The Mark Thomas Comedy Product.
  • In Cheers, Cliff mentions a favourite restaurant that serves "loobster" (with two "o"s).
  • In one episode of Friends, Monica takes a job attempting to create palatable recipes using "Mockolate". Which may or may not have been made out of pure, concentrated evil.
  • In a That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch set in the research department of haircare product makers Laboratoire Garnier, Monsieur Garnier congratulates one lab technician on the invention of the word ‘Nutrisse’ - "Which sounds like ‘nutrition’ but doesn’t guarantee it."
    • Also mocked in the Parody Commercials for Didldidi (itself a Bland-Name Product version of Lidl), which advertise products such as a "chicken-style oven roaster," labeled "Land Gull."
      "There's only one week left before the new trade descriptions act comes into force, and that means it's BARGAINS BARGAINS BARGAINS week at DIDLDIDI!"
  • In Will and Grace the eponymous pair dine at a restaurant which serves Lobbster stuffed with Cheeeeese.
  • One episode of The Drew Carey Show had him accidentally buying his girlfriend a box of "beljan chorklet".
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Synthehol is used to replace alcohol in settings where intoxication could be deleterious, but many characters look down on its taste. People drinking it often aren't told that it's not real alcohol until after they comment on its differences. And it may become real soon enough.
    • Anything that comes out of the replicators isn't what it looks, smells, or tastes like. It's base molecules and proteins broken down by a transporter beam and rematerialized in a completely different molecular pattern. Waste matter, dirty dishes and miscellaneous rubbish are disposed of via the same process used to replicate food. Think about that for a minute.
  • It's not stated explicitly, but considering "real" food and fresh produce in The Verse of Firefly are only available to the richest of the rich (and criminals), the "Fruity Oaty Bars" most likely contain only artificial fruit and may even have synthesized oats.
  • In Sister Sister, the twins worked at a food court burger stand for a while. Their main product was a sandwich that could not be legally called a "hamburger" due to its use of a "meat-like patty".

    Western Animation 
  • Many Krusty Brand products in The Simpsons TV show and comic books fall under this trope:
    • The Krusty Burger (a "meat-flavored sandwich").
    • Krusty Partially Gelatinated Non-Dairy Gum-Based Beverage.
    • Krusty's Non-Dairy Non-Ice Cream Whey Product Sandwich.
    • Krusty Brand Bite-A-Min's Imitation Vitamins.
    • Krusty Burger's Beef-Flavored Chicken. At least they were honest about their Whatchamacarcass Sandwich.
    Krusty: "I used non-diseased meat from diseased animals."
    • The school cafeteria serves "malk" instead of milk. It may or may not come from rats. Now with Vitamin R!
    • The teacher's lounge offers "coffee-flavoured beverine" with "creamium".
    • The kids at Kamp Krusty were served Krusty Brand Imitation Gruel.
    Lisa: "You're serving us gruel?"
    Kearney: "Not quite. (reveals the steel barrel containing the product) This is Krusty Brand Imitation Gruel. Nine out of ten orphans can't tell the difference."
  • King of the Hill had Hank go into a health food store and get "not dogs". They're hot dogs made from tofu. He responded that he was allergic to tofu. Not surprisingly, they had fauxfu. What would "fauxfu" be made from? The show doesn't say, but there are pseudo-tofus available to the soy-allergic, often made from wheat gluten...which other people are allergic to.
  • In the Futurama episode "Fry Am The Egg Man", the Planet Express crew go to a fast food restaurant called Fishy Joe's and Leela orders a fruit cup:
    Leela: Oh, god. Fruit is spelt F-R-O-O-T. And it's got quotation marks round it!
  • Clone High features "X-Stream Blu," which is packed with "nutramites" and has a list of healthful-sounding "ingrediments"... follows by its actual ingredients, which are pancake batter and blue house paint.

    Video Games 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials And Tribulations, there's a scene where Phoenix tries a meal from the restaurant Tres Bien. Maya (temporarily working as a waitress) introduces the meal as some complicatedly-named dish involving lobster. When you discuss the (horrible) meal with the owner and chief cook of the restaurant, and Maya mentions the complicated name, he tells her that there is no lobster in the dish. He reminds her that the menu clearly states that it's a dish inspired by [complicated lobster dish], and Phoenix remarks "but it may not contain any actual lobster."
  • Apparently averted in the Fallout world, where it's common to find "Apples" and "Salisbury Steak" that are still edible after 200 years. Fallout Tactics lampshades the improbability of accurate labels on pre-war foodstuffs (and at that point, it's a mere 120 years).
  • Judging from a Dummied Out audio diary in BioShock, real beef doesn't exist in Rapture. In BioShock 2, there are advertisements for "Beef•e" potted meat. Averted with "Calci-O" brand artificial milk, however; it at least claims to contain real calcium (which is probably true; seashells are made of calcium carbonate, a common food additive in Real Life) and bills itself openly as a "milk substitute".

     Web Comics 
  • One strip of Ozy and Millie hangs a lampshade on this with the line "It's really amazing how many cereals have to misspell their alleged main ingredient to avoid a false advertising lawsuit." It mentions (fictional, of course) cereals "Aple Squares", "Froot-O's", and "Sinn-A-Munn Crispies." Not to mention the line "I had no idea there were so many words for sugar." (said while looking at the ingredients list)
  • Eben explains this to Snooch in this Two Lumps page.
    Eben: They should probably call it "fud", just to be safe.

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