Once in a while, is it okay to say "told ya so?"

Five months ago I addressed group of marketers and package good manufacturers at a conference and warned them that high fructose corn syrup was going to be their next big consumer issue. Panic ensued. Blog discussion was intense. Commenters on my posts told me I was an idiot. More or less.

This morning's AdAge headline: Marketers Answer Call to Eliminate High-Fructose Corn Syrup.

Eh, it only took five months for the MSM to jump on the bandwagon, but considering the Today Show is still doing their Hey, there's this newfangled thing called a mommy blogger! segments, I'd say five months is pretty darn good.

The article describes that companies like Pepsi, Starbucks and Kraft are doing a bang-up job offering alternatives to respond to consumer demand (isn't that great!) and in fact, next week Wheat Thins is relaunching its crackers with double the whole grains and none of the HFCS. Which means we can start buying them again.

I simply love how blogging can give us a collective voice that can lead to change regarding issues we care about. (Total aside: Have you seen that Loralee was invited to the White House yesterday to talk about Health Care? So so fabulous.)

But then...

The article goes on to say that the Corn Refinery Association, in addition to their most awesome, not condescending at all Sweet Surprise ad campaign, "has also orchestrated a massive public-relations campaign through PR agency Weber Shandwick...The team is reaching out to mommy bloggers to correct the impression that refined sugar is healthier than HFCS."

I'll be interested in following how that goes.

Don't watch the Sweet Surprise ad. Just watch this parody instead from King Corn (Nate's favorite movie lately). It's kind of the same thing. Although I want to punch the actors in the face a little less than in the original.


Blogger Earth To Mother Ship said...

I think an "I TOLD YA SO" is very appropriate! I am so thankful HFCS is getting kicked to the curb by so many companies. Label reading is so important especially when we have to think about food options for our kids.

8/21/09, 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom said...

Aww, yeah.

Also, Loralee's post was on the FRONT PAGE of the White House's website: www.whithouse.gov

Go smart moms!

8/21/09, 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...

Thanks for speaking up about the HFCS thing! I was wondering when companies would finally get the hint. You'd think they'd never read blogs before ;)

8/21/09, 9:30 AM  
Blogger Miguelina. said...

It's proof that money talks. I love that now I can find alternatives to HFCS - laden products everywhere, which definitely wasn't the case four years ago.

What kills me is how the corn industry is assuming that we're stupid enough to want sugar in everything they've put HFCS in - I want my cookies to have sugar instead of HFCS, but the bigger issue was that they put it in everything: milk, bread, soup- those things shouldn't have sweeteners, period.

8/21/09, 9:43 AM  
Blogger Boy Crazy said...

I just saw a Sweet Surprise ad for the first time yestderday and couldn't believe the image makeover they were trying to give HFCS.

Very cool that you have been influential and involved in getting it out of our foods. Good for you and thank you!

8/21/09, 9:44 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Boy Crazy, it's definitely not me that's influential. It's a collective group of consumers making their money talk, as Miguelina says. I'm just repeating the brilliance of you all.

and Miguelina, you're right about sugar in everything. It's really not necessary at all, is it?

8/21/09, 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Instant Hausfrau said...

You totally get to say, "I told you so."

Friends of mine did this non-budget parody in a park one afternoon -- it helps to know that the gent in question really quotes facts like this on a regular basis. Their lovely 2 year old daughter played on the playground, with the camera person, and gleefully ruined takes. :D


8/21/09, 10:02 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

that is AWESOME!

8/21/09, 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved King Corn! I just watched about a week ago...so good.

8/21/09, 10:07 AM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

Let them reach, I'll tell them where to shove it.

I think I "I told ya so" is awesome in this case. I am super excited about Wheat Thins, is that wrong? I missed them so.

My husband figures if they have to run an ad campaign to tell you how good it is, then it has to be bad for you. I doubt he is alone in thinking that.

8/21/09, 10:09 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Well I mostly agree with your husband Amelia! But there are times that there are misperceptions about your product in the marketplace and like the Egg Board or the Pork Board ("the other white meat"), you come out with a campaign describing all the positive traits about your product.

The problem with this ad is that it suggests that if you're against HFCS it's simply because you don't know any better. And frankly, it makes me more likely to research the info to support my position, than to change it.

See Instant Housefrau's link above. It's fantastic.

8/21/09, 10:14 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Okay, now can you go light a fire under my husband who can't manage to buy the just plain apples applesauce because somehow the "original" on the label sounds good enough.
I picked up the log cabin or whatever syrup it was that touts no HFCS only to find it just had another variety of corn syrup or somesuch nonsense.

The Today Show is totally on my list and not just for the mommy blogger thing. This morning making a smart woman like Ann Curry interview someone about better than Botox. Ugh. I digress...

8/21/09, 10:26 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Heather, corn syrup isn't the same as HFCS which contains corn syrup.

I have to admit we use homemade maple syrup that my stepfather taps right from the trees in their backyard. I'm lucky that way!

8/21/09, 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I cringe every time I see those commercials. But I don't think that they are going to sway anyone. The people buying products laden with HFCS don't read labels.

8/21/09, 10:53 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Am I the only person who burst into tears seeing the farmer from King Corn in that spoof? I bawled like a baby at the end of that movie b/c of him.

Damn hormones.

Oh, and yay! D will be thrilled to see Wheat Thins back in our shopping cart.

8/21/09, 11:04 AM  
Anonymous gurukarm (@karma_musings) said...

Go you!! Since hubs & I both struggle all. the. time. with weight issues, I've taken to simply not buying bread, burger, & dog buns w/HFCS in - and do you *know* how *dang* hard it is to find any in the "regular" grocery store???

As always it's a case of pay through the wazoo for organic and/or natural, or eat junk. Gotta love the American system. Sigh.

8/21/09, 11:26 AM  
Blogger Cloud said...

I'm not going to mourn the demise of HFCS. I am surprised it took the manufacturers this long to change, really.

I hope you don't think I was ever calling you an idiot in my comments on your earlier posts! I don't think that. I just think that the current focus by SOME (not you) on removing HFCS as the cure to our obesity problem is misguided and unlikely to work.

If all we do is switch to consuming the same amount of refined sugar as sucrose, I doubt we're going to get any skinnier or healthier.

However, maybe switching from HFCS will change the cost-benefit ratio of adding refined sugar to products and bring down the amount of refined sugar we consume. THAT probably would make us skinnier, as long as we don't just add fat to keep our products tasting good!

Now, a science geeky aside: whoever was worrying about plain "corn syrup" as an ingredient- that is mostly glucose (HFCS is corn syrup that has been treat to increase the fructose content, thereby making sweeter). Some research shows that consuming glucose is less likely to make you fat than consuming fructose is. Sucrose, which is table sugar and also is the predominant sugar in cane syrup and maple syrup is 50-50 glucose and fructose. HFCS is usually 45-55.

8/21/09, 12:18 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

No Cloud not you at all! I learned a lot from you.

Mostly the name calling appeared in now deleted comments from IP addresses oddly all coming from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Western Ohio

8/21/09, 12:22 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...


Now, if mommy bloggers can bring the health care reform debate back to a sensible place, I'll be proud to call myself a mommy blogger again. Go, Loralee!

8/21/09, 12:50 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I am so glad that we have this platform on which to make ourselves heard. So. Glad.

8/21/09, 1:57 PM  
Blogger abby said...

yea for Wheat Thins! they have been very missed in this house. thanks for the info.

8/21/09, 4:47 PM  
Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...


8/21/09, 5:13 PM  
Blogger the new girl said...

You know it's getting serious when you see all the ads for 'HFCS! It's JUST LIKE SUGAR! And FINE! In MODERATION!'

You see the PR machine working and you know that on some level, they're sweating it.

P.S. You're on the cutting edge of EVERYTHING, I think.

P.P.S. I thought that King Corn was interesting--did you not like it?

8/21/09, 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Grizzly Kitteh said...

I'm glad people are starting to get more health conscious about HFCS. Next we need to cut all the subsidies that make HFCS so cheap to produce. I can't believe our tax dollars subsidize making it easier for America to get fatter.

8/21/09, 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Mommy Melting Pot said...

This is definitely good news!

I think part of the problem with HFCS is that people don't realize just how frequently it is used. You can't seem to pick up any big brand item without it being included, which is why I distrust a lot of the big brands. Between HFCS and partially hydrogenated oils, you can't buy half of the stuff in the grocery store.

8/21/09, 6:18 PM  
Anonymous This Mama Cooks! said...

It's amazing how some companies get it and some just don't. I stopped using Prego a long time ago when I found it was full of corn syrup (not HFCS). Prego's parent company, Campbell's took it out. There's even a heart healthy version that is sweetened with carrot juice, I believe.

Many consumers, or should I say moms, are demanding HFCS be taken out because of health reasons (the moms of kids with ADD, ADHD and autism have been very vocal about additives and HFCS). Some companies are listening and do know we don't want HFCS. It's just a matter of reformulating their products so they're as shelf stable and can be cheaply made.

The reason so many manufacturers switched to HFCS in the first place because it was cheap due to government subsidies. And now we're all paying the price in higher health care bills as more people are overweight and have diabetes.

As far as corn syrup vs. HFCS vs. sugar (and beet vs. cane sugar vs. organic can sugar - oh my) - and let's not forget honey, maple syrup molasses and agave nectar, too? A chemist like my husband will say it's molecularly the same. However, there is some evidence that our brains think HFCS is sweeter, so we crave more - and overeat. Dare I say that it's addictive?

In my opinion, the more "natural" you can get with any kind of food the better. But no one is asking you to drink your favorite natural sweetener by the cup full either. It's all about moderation as well.

8/21/09, 7:31 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

So smart, This Mama Cooks! I want to buy you (organic) dinner some time and just listen to you wax on.

8/21/09, 7:38 PM  
Blogger Gray Matter said...

Next stop...sodium. Mark my words. You heard it here first.

8/21/09, 8:24 PM  
Blogger Surfer Jay said...

The worst part about this sugar scare is that now everyone is putting Maltitol and other sugar alcohals in their products.....which are equally laxatives, as they are sweeteners.

8/21/09, 10:30 PM  
Blogger divrchk said...

I'd love to see Heinz jump on the bandwagon. My kids eat ketchup by the gallon (it seems) and I've switched to Whole Foods organic ketchup. I was a Heinz loyalist since birth - no longer!

8/22/09, 11:47 AM  
Blogger Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Heinz organic ketchup has no HFCS.

Did you read Pollan's recent article in the NYT, which says that no one cooks anymore? And that there's a direct correlation between not cooking and obesity? --- Is there any chance home-cooking will be the Next Big Thing?

Speaking of which all the grocery stores around here now have canning jars at the check-out lines, right beside the M&Ms and Mars bars. It's a sure sign of something or other : )

8/22/09, 2:14 PM  
Anonymous SharonM said...

Can I just say that I love you now even more? Five months ... you rock!

8/22/09, 4:10 PM  
Anonymous selfmademom said...

I haven't watched all the vids, but I've been keeping a vigilant eye on my products since you posted about HFCS. My husband is even on the bandwagon, wholeheartedly checking EVERY label on every food product we own. So imagine my surprise when I was eating my Kellogg's raisin bran this week only to find that HFCS is in it. I checked my frosted mini wheats and that has it too. I even checked Post raisin bran at the store, and was not surprised that it contains HFCS. My point besides the fact that I like sugar cereal? We (you and others) are making such damned good progress but we still have so much farther to go to educate more of the big name manufacturers. If Kraft can do it, Kelloggs can too, right? Thanks for keeping us posted on this!

8/23/09, 9:13 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

Yay for Wheat Thins. I wish Ritz crackers would do it too. My kid loves those damn things.

P.S. Loralee rocks. This whole "mommy blogger" thing is really taking off, huh? (BIG wink, wink...)

8/24/09, 9:24 AM  

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