Buyer Beware: Misleading Menu Description?

I was on the road, and stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for breakfast. Looking at the menu, a listing for whole grain pecan pancakes caught my eye, along with the accompanying comment about how it came with “100% Pure Natural Syrup.” Now, the menu said 100% Pure Natural Syrup, but my brain registered “100% Pure Maple Syrup.” To my surprise, when the pancakes came, I then realized that the nice warm bottle of syrup did not say “Maple” at all. Instead, it was 55% “pure maple” and 45% “cane syrup.”

Now, the pancakes were good. But I had let myself fall victim to the intentional word games played by skilled marketing professionals. Through the clever use of buzz words and carefully chosen terms, they create an impression of something that is not there. While “cane syrup” is certainly natural, it is nothing but sugar, and would not have been nearly as attractive to me as 100% maple syrup, which is what I thought I was getting.

My mistake. The lesson, of course, is to remain vigilant. Don’t over react to terms like “natural.” Sugar is natural. Salt is natural. Read labels–and menus–carefully.

P.S. As syrups go, the Cracker Barrel syrup did contain 55% Pure Maple Syrup, which is certain better than some of the products on the store shelf. If you look at those labels carefully, you will see that many of them are mostly corn syrup with maple flavor.

About Don Goldberg

Hello. I am what you might call a Nutritional Pharmacist. After college, I worked in the Pharmaceutical and Nutritional Industry, first in Quality Control, and then in Manufacturing and Product Development. Increasingly, as the years passed, I became more involved with nutritional supplements. I spent many years detailing physicians, herbalists, and homeopaths about nutritional and herbal therapies and products. In 1992, along with my friend Arnie Gitomer, I bought Willner Chemists, a well-established nutritionally oriented pharmacy. For the first time, I had an opportunity to communicate directly with the consumer, the patient, and the customer. I love it. This blog is an additional way for me to extend my personal views and opinions directly to you. You can also hear me on the radio, every Sunday, from 2 to 4 pm on WOR radio in NY (710 AM), or WGKA in Atlanta (920 AM). Or check our website, www.willner.com.
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