Once upon a time, breakfast cereals for kids tended to have the word "sugar" in their names. "Sugar Smacks", "Sugar Corn Pops", etc.
Then, sometime in The Eighties
, sugar wasn't so popular with parents anymore. So cereal makers took the offending word out of the title, although the cereals still had the sugar in them if you Read The Fine Print
. This seems to have happened around the same time they edited all the violence
out of Looney Tunes
This is an advertising trope, and covers situations when a food or drink is renamed or restyled to try to keep with the changing times, without actually
changing the product in any significant way.
By the way, as of 2009, the sugar censorship itself is proving to be a Cyclic Trope
. With "High Fructose Corn Syrup" now the new boogeyman, brands like Snapple and Pepsi are proudly declaring
that they use "real sugar!"
Compare Asbestos-Free Cereal
- Sugar Crisp → Super Sugar Crisp → Super Golden Crisp → Golden Crisp
- Mascot Sugar Bear had two name changes; first he went from "Sugar Bear" to "Super Sugar Bear". When they started down-playing the "sugar" aspect, he became "Super Bear", complete with Transformation Sequence. At this point he's once again Sugar Bear.
- Sugar Pops → Sugar Corn Pops → Corn Pops → "Pops"
- Sugar Smacks → Honey Smacks → just plain "Smacks" → Honey Smacks (again)
- Sugar Frosted Flakes → Frosted Flakes (happened in the 1970s). Makes one wonder what Kellogg's uses for frosting nowadays.
- At about this same time, many pre-sweetened cereals also had their ingredients lists rearranged. By law, all ingredients must be listed in descending order of abundance. Before the Great Sugar Cereal Renaming, a box of (say) Froot Loops had its ingredients listed as "Sugar, wheat flour, oat flour, ...". Today, that same box of Froot Loops — whose recipe has not changed at all — has its ingredients listed as "Wheat and oat flour, sugar, ...".
- Kentucky Fried Chicken briefly tried to call itself "Kitchen Fresh Chicken". Then they decided that just plain "KFC" was best. As of 2007, they realized that they weren't fooling anybody and went back to the original name.
- Some conspiracy nuts believed that the change was not to eliminate the word "fried", but to eliminate the word "chicken", because what the restaurants sell was no longer legally classifiable as chicken. Of course, in reality, KFC's chicken is probably more "real" chicken than the stuff that goes by the name at many other fast-food places.
- Snopes, just to cover the all the bases, has a page proposing tongue-in-cheek that the real reason for the name change was that the commonwealth of Kentucky had started charging a license fee for the use of the word "Kentucky".
- It's notable that the description of the "chicken" is identical to "Chicken Little", a being made of cloned chicken cells from the sci-fi novel The Space Merchants.
- They tried "Kentucky Grilled Chicken" for commercials only to coincide with their new grilled chicken options, it seemed to make them popular for a while. Grilled chicken is healthier than fried chicken in the eyes of public, but in reality, since KFC's grilled chicken is made without removing the skin it has nearly as much fat as their fried chicken.
- International House of Pancakes became "INTERNATIONAL HOUSE of pancakes RESTAURANT" and then on to IHOP with a kangaroo as a mascot.
- Dairy Queen at one point became DQ, and neither commercials nor their employees seem to acknowledge the chain's unabbreviated name.
- It is still referred to as "Dairy Queen" in Canadian TV ads.
- Monosodium Glutamate or MSG, a flavoring used to enhance savory/umami tasting food, got a reputation for causing various (if never quite scientifically verifiable) health problems, specifically being linked with Chinese Restaurants, even though it could be found in just about every savory packaged food on the market. Nowadays, it's usually listed as yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, glutamic acid and sodium or calcium caseinate.
- Omega-3* fatty acids. Shortly after they became popular, advertisers started referring to them as 'omega-3 oils'note , and more recently just 'omega-3s' with even scientists using that last one. This was all to avoid people getting the idea that the fatty acids might have something to do with fats.
- Certain anti-aging creams contain amino acids. (Like all agents used in anti-aging cream, don't expect these to have any serious effect.) In advertisements, these are referred to as simply "aminos" because people associate the other term with either highly corrosive acids or LSD. Never mind that amino acids are simply the rudimentary components of proteins, which human beings need to live.
- Yogurt is touted for its "live and active cultures" or, in brainier circles, its "probiotics." At least one supplement maker's ad refers to "good bacteria", but calling them "nummy germs" never quite caught on.
- Whilst biology students and health obsessed adults might appreciate the whole bacteria thing, most children see yogurt as being a creamy treat with no health benefits (unless it has fruit in it, of course). In fact, the mention of bacteria puts them off, because at the same time they're being told to associate bacteria with germs, which are bad. There was an advert some years ago for Rice Krispies Multi Grain which openly touted their 'Probiotic bacteria' and had young children in the advert who actually wanted to eat it after hearing about this. Needless to say, this was thoroughly unrealistic.
- Never mind the minor detail that "probiotic" technically only means it contains some bacteria that are naturally found in the human gut, not necessarily the ones that are actually good for the digestive system. Most beneficial bacteria that live in the colon can't survive in the presence of oxygen, so incorporating them into yogurt that's going to be opened and spooned out in the presence of air would be a waste of time.
- Sugar substitutes like aspartame. It's either a wonderful alternative to tooth-rotting, weight-gaining sweeteners, or cancer in a paper packet that affects your insides like nicotine and tastes like synthetic evil.
- The common complaint is that it contains chlorine... which is found in most tap-water.
- Of the common artifical sweeteners, only sucralose contains chlorine; saccharin and acesulfam K contain sulfur. Aspartame is arguably the most "natural" of the artificial sweeteners, since it's a dipeptide (basically, a very short protein) that's handled by your body in exactly the same way all other proteins are. The big drawback is that, at least until you get used to them, they all do taste like synthetic evil (with the aftertaste of sucralose being probably the least foul/easiest to get used to).
- The backlash against this is driving brands like Coke and Pepsi back to advertising the "natural sugar" they contain, where previously they banked on artificial sweeteners.
- High fructose corn syrup, the currently-trendy "evil" of the food industry, is beginning to be called "corn sugar" to lessen its "evil" connotations.note
- To distance themselves from high-fructose corn syrup, some products that use regular (non-high-fructose) corn syrup are now calling it "glucose syrup" instead. (The British have traditionally called corn syrup glucose syrup long before HFCS came onto the scene; HFCS is called glucose-fructose syrup over there.)
- As with artificial sweeteners, some soft drink companies (notably Pepsico) have released "throwback" versions of their flagship products, with sucrose instead of H.F.C.S.; they proudly tout these throwback soft drinks as being "made with real sugar!"
- It's entirely possible that this trend will come full-circle in a generation. An entire generation of youth is growing up today drinking soda pop sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. To them, HFCS will be the taste they grew up with and grew attached to, and table sugar will taste a little "off." Two decades from now, we may start seeing retro versions of the retro drinks that advertise "Made with real high-fructose corn syrup!"
- This is already happening. Even if you grew up with "real sugar" Pepsi products, by now you've been probably been drinking the HFCS stuff so long that the Throwback version may taste a little "off" the first time you try it... not quite like an artificial sweetener, but not "right" either.
- Averted with the previous trendy "evil" of the food industry, Trans fats. Instead of rewording the ingredients labels, food manufacturers actually went out of their way to reformulate their products to be Trans-fat free by the time the FDA's labelling requirements went into effect in 2006-8. The added bonus, of course, being that advertisers could boast about "zero trans fats" and hope gullible consumers would equate that with "fat-free."
- They also didn't waste any opportunity to label foods "low-fat" or especially "no trans fat" even if all foods of that type are.
- Incidentally, as long as a product has < 0.5g of trans-fats per serving, they can put 0g in the nutritional information. (Partially hydrogenated oils == trans fats). This has the amusing side effect of allowing vegetable shortening—which is high in trans fat because it is partially hydrogenated oil—can be labelled as trans-fat free: if the stuff is 33% partially-hydrogenated oil, just call a serving 1.5g, and voila! Less than .5g per serving.
- Milk and red meat also contain small amounts of naturally-occurring trans fat. A tablespoon of butter, for example, contains about a quarter of a gram of trans fat. These trans fats are different chemically from the ones found in partially hydrogenated oils, and might (or might not) have different health effects. If the "less than 0.5 grams per serving = 0 grams" rule were revoked, ordinary milk would have to be labelled as containing trans fat!
- And now that the FDA is banning partially hydrogenated oils outright, this particular ingredient will most likely become a forgotten unfortunate ingredient (at least in the US).
- You can have Fun with Acronyms to invoke this trope, too. Most people don't pay a lot of attention to BHT, but would you eat something that said it contained "butylated hydroxytoluene"?
- There used to be a brand of pretzels called "Captain Salty's" complete with a salty-sea-dog captain as mascot. Did they change their name or go out of business? Either way, the original name wouldn't sell too many pretzels these days.
- Pretty much every company with "British" in its name officially switched to a meaningless acronym in The Eighties: British Telecom became BT, British Home Stores became BHS and so on. This was partly due to Patriotic Fervour being unpopular and partly because, thanks to privatisation, the companies were not solely British owned anymore. Now that public displays of patriotism are a bit more acceptable in the UK again, some of the companies are reverting to their old names.
- Barr's Iron Brew became Irn Bru many years ago as it contains neither a substantial amount of iron nor is brewed. The word brew is actually northern word for a drink. Similarly the drink is listed on the back as a 'Sparkling Fruit Flavoured Drink'. They don't say what the fruit flavour is but this is because it was originally said to be flavoured by iron girders (in actual fact it contains such a low amount of iron as to not be detectable).
- Mountain Dew was originally advertised using the name's connotations with hillbillies and moonshine, but has since dropped that and instead rebranded itself as a sort of sports drink. The "Throwback" product (which reverted to using cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup as the sweetener) uses some of the original marketing illustrations, including one image of a hillbilly with an earthenware jug of something so energetic that not only does it open itself, the cork blows a hole through his hat... which is still more PC than the one where a hillbilly was firing a Kentucky long rifle at a presumed "revenoor".