Thursday, May 7, 2009

HFCS Ads: ‘Hey Retard! It’s Not Corn Syrup’s Fault You’re Fat!’

I was floored the other day to open a glossy magazine and see this ad:

The campaign includes several television spots, a couple of newspaper and banner ads, and two more glossy print ads just like it, only with different faces and the following dialogue:

My dry cleaner says high fructose corn syrup is loaded with calories.

A registered dietician presses your shirts?

My hairdresser says sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup.

Wow! You get your hair done by a doctor?

I don’t even know where to start. Am I most appalled by the fact that the Corn Refiners Association is proud of this campaign? Is it the way the ads slant the corn syrup argument that makes me most angry? Am I horrified that the Corn Refiners Association thinks so little of people who don’t work in the medical field, like hair dresser and dry cleaning employees, that it believes they couldn’t possibly know the first thing about health, diet, and nutrition?

I really feel like I would be preaching to the choir to go into the real argument about industrial corn and high-fructose corn syrup. To summarize my viewpoint, it’s not about what high-fructose corn syrup is (a nutritionally devoid chemical product), it’s about the fact that’s it’s in everything! It’s pervasiveness is the problem! Even if research showed that nutritionally, HFCS is nearly the same as white sugar, the difference is food manufacturers aren’t using sugar to pad out everything from sliced bread to dog food.

Michael Pollan’s first section in Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) (see chapters 1 through 7) does a fantastic job of explaining the science and politics behind the argument. The documentary film King Corn (2007) also covers almost exactly the same facets that Pollan covers.

Curious as you might be to visit the Corn Refiners website, don’t. Don’t give them traffic.


Anonymous said...

You make an excellent point that this ad campaign implies that if you're not a licensed professional in the medical field, you have no right having an opinion on health. Guess the rest of us are just "two stoooopid to no annee beter"!
And besides, the medical establishment does such a great job keeping us healthy, right? They must always be right! Morons like us should never question anything...

Darius Kazemi said...

Eh, this is the rhetorical strategy of a group that's running scared.

Anonymous said...

Why is pervasiveness a problem? Flour and soy are also pervasive, are they also problematic? Is your point that it would be better if it *were* sugar that manufacturers were using to pad out everything from sliced bread to dog food?

Jill E. Duffy said...

No, Anonymous. If sugar were pervasive and used as a filler in all kinds of foods, that WOULD be a problem, too. I don't know if flour and soy are also problematic. That is worth some investigation.

Anonymous said...

which magazine was the ad printed for?

Jill E. Duffy said...

I saw a variety of ads for this campaign in a number of U.S. and North American publications, Cooking Light to name one.

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