December 11, 2012

Keep Your Eye on the Fruit

Hey, it's breakfast time. Are you hungry? Would you like some waffles? Well, both of these choices by Van's are wheat, gluten, dairy, and egg-free, are made with whole grain, and are sweetened with fruit juice, so it will be a tough choice.

What it comes down to is, do you want the blueberry or the strawberry?

TRICK QUESTION--the one the right is not strawberry! There isn't any strawberry juice injected into that waffle at all--it is only sweetened with pineapple, peach, and pear juices! Unless you want to cut up the strawberries out of the cardboard packaging, you won't be eating any red fruits with your waffles this morning. The waffles in the blueberry box has all those juices too, but actually does contain dried blueberries as well as blackberries.

I still buy a variety of Van's waffles anyway because there's no dairy in them (and they're often on sale) but their boxes can be tricky. There are many different flavors of waffles but none of the boxes with red banners have a strawberry in them. In fact, all of the red banner boxes have a non-fruit word associated with them: either "totally natural" or "homestyle." Yet each one of those boxes has a picture of a red fruit on it.

So which came first--the picture or the egg? Wait, there's no egg. Which came first--the picture or banner? I'll give them the benefit of the doubt because they seem like a cool company and guess that they just chose a banner color that matched something in the picture, and having the strawberries there was poetic licence. But with all the varieties they have that actually do contain ingredients that match the banner color (flax is gold, apple cinnamon is dark red, chocolate chip is brown), it probably would have been more appropriate to select a neutral color for the ones that don't.

Now here's the real kick in the pants--the "Berry" box labelled with the purple banner contains the same berries that the "Blueberry" one does (dried blueberries and blackberries). No peach, pineapple, or pear juice, but definitely no raspberries as pictured.

And none of these waffles even taste remotely like sneakers!

December 5, 2012

Frosted Fakes?

Several Kellogg's cereals were on sale the other day so I picked up a box of Frosted Flakes. Later on in my shopping adventure, I spotted this on the shelf in the "Ethnic Food" aisle:

Another box of Frosted Flakes, but this one by Pampa instead of Kellogg's. It was a similar blue box with some flakes, a splash of milk, mysterious red fruit, and a totally extreme cartoon mascot. I never heard of this company before and thought it was odd to not find the box among the usual generic brands in the Cereal Aisle. Maybe they banished Pampa Frosted Flakes to another aisle as punishment for stealing a trademarked name?

Well, as it turns out, "Frosted Flakes" is not a trademarkable term, at least according to Wikipedia. There's no specific source attributed to that claim, but a quick search of US Trademarks shows that "Kellogg's Frosted Flakes" and "Kellogg's Frosted Flakes Gold" (and formerly, "Kellogg's Cocoa Frosted Flakes") are all owned by The Kellogg Company, but "Frosted Flakes" can not be held exclusive to describe a cereal-derived food product. Records also show that Post once had their own trademarked Frosted Flakes ("Post Toasties Frosted Flakes") and Ralcorp had "Chocolatious Frosted Flakes" but these have since lapsed in registration. I guess every other company just figured "Who cares about the beginning? We already don't need to pay for the 'Frosted Flakes' part!" and ran with it.

It's sort of unfortunate for Kellogg's because the term "Frosted Flakes" is probably the most important and recognizable part of the phrase to consumers. "Kellogg's," ubiquitous in their packaging, slogans, and advertising, is usually ignored. They probably should have come up with a more original, trademarkable name (Tony the Tigerflakes?) in the first place, but to make up for their mistake, they've secured their trademark on the term "Frosted Flakes" for every inedible item on the planet: dishware, sneakers, shirts, hats, underwear, gloves, puzzles, toy cars, and measuring cups, among other things. This means you'll never see Pampa's little hoverboarder on a T-shirt next to the words "Frosted Flakes." They aren't lying when they say "pay only for taste" because it's legally all they'll be able to sell you.

As you can see, Pampa (owned by Transnational Foods) takes advantage of this little trademark loophole with their "Raisin Bran" cereal as well. "Corn Flakes" get the Pampa treatment too. From there, their naming strategy is all over the place:

They have a cereal called "Cocoa Drops." This name seems to mimic the foreign version of Kellogg's "Cocoa Krispies" known as "Coco Pops," but doesn't resemble the cereal other than in color. "Cocoa Drops" looks and probably tastes more like General Mills' "Cocoa Puffs." "Coco Puffs," as it's known throughout the world, is trademarked in the US while "Coco Pops" is not. Pampa could have legally used the "Coco Pops" named for their cereal in the US. A more accurate name with worldwide appeal would have parodied "Cocoa Puffs" though. "Choco Puffs" perhaps?

Then they've got "Fruitty Wheels" which is a knockoff of Kellogg's "Froot Loops." "Fruit Wheels" cereal is already trademarked by the grocery store Winn-Dixie, though I'm not seeing any obvious evidence of them using it on a cereal box. Oddly, I've been able to track down a "Fruit Discs" cereal sold by WD, but that name isn't trademarked at all. So the question is, why did Pampa choose "Fruitty Wheels"? "Fruitty" isn't even an English word (then again, neither is "Froot") and I don't see any trademark for "Fruity Wheels." Maybe they're trying to distance themselves from a possible suit for misrepresenting fruit content and intentionally spelling the word incorrectly. That didn't seem to work for Kellogg's though.

Finally, there is "Honey Rings." There are already a thousand different cereals called "Honey Rings" because it's not trademarked. I don't even know what this is a knockoff of, to be honest. I know this guy's not a fan. It seems Pampa is just going with the flow here.

Most interesting to me about the Pampa cereals is that all the boxes use the exact same milk splash into the bowl. The Raisin Bran artwork omits one little milk dot that should appear over the top "N." Honey Rings omits the entire milk pour which makes you wonder what the hell is splashing. The Corn Flakes box doesn't feature the Marty McFly-lookin' kid, but that doesn't mean it's sugar-free.

Where'd he go anyway? COME BACK SWEET PRINCE!

December 4, 2012

Parts Unknown Candles

Spotted these Party Candles at a Dunkin's Donuts yesterday: 

I suppose they're for when you're celebrating that Age Unknown birthday for that special someone from Parts Unknown.

(cake stolen from this awesome flickr set: Sugarslam)