Food Marketing 101

As the commercials during the Super Bowl prove, success is pretty much just all about marketing and how you present a certain product.


Fashion aside, this is especially true with food.

Would you prefer to eat “soup” or “food-flavored tea”? Drink “coffee” or “bean water”? In other words, some items have greatly benefitted from clever categorization, while others could use a little bit of help in the PR department.


Salads–Salad has become synonymous with “healthy,” due in part to the fact that they adopted “salad dressing” as an accompaniment instead of the phrase, “lettuce gravy.” Things like a traditional salad with greens and veggies helped ensure the “healthy” illusion of salad that things like taco salad and potato salad have benefited from. You know, a burrito dumped into a fried shell and slathered with sour cream and three shreds of lettuce and a bowl of mayonnaise with specks of potato. Vegetables for the win!

Head Cheese—Lies! NOT CHEESE!

Tofu–While I’m a vegan, I can’t tolerate soy so tofu is out. However, I used to be able to eat it and know that tofu is basically just a codependent block of coagulated bean curd. It has no flavor and takes on whatever it’s cooked with, but I guess “tofu” sounds better than “codependent coagulated curd,” although whether it tastes better or not is up for debate. 

Sweet Breads—Lies! NOT BREAD!

English Muffins–Muffins are generally thought of as a breakfast food, which we’ll get to in a minute, but English muffins are not really a “muffin.” They’re more like a butter sponge one has to extract from the (unplugged) toaster with a knife, putting to use the hours you played Operation as a kid. However, I guess “butter sponge” sounds a little less fancy (but honestly, still kind of delicious.)

Fortune Cookies–Cookie Monster would lose his shit if presented with this as a “cookie.” The fortune cookie is to cookies as Kim Kardashian is to acting. You can label it whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any good.  Every fortune should just read, “This is a stale imitation of food and you could eat this piece of paper and not know the difference.” 


Radish--This gets the award for the most tasteless vegetable that also has that capacity to burn your mouth with each bite. It’s a polarizing food, which is why I see this as being how it was named:

Person 1: I love this vegetable! It’s so rad!

Person 2: Meh. It’s not that great. It’s more like rad-ish. Hey! Let’s go with that!


Now let’s take a look at the names of foods that could use a little more help.

Milk Duds–While many people enjoy spending three hours trying to chew three small chocolate caramel confections, they are essentially named after a dairy product that has failed. I can just imagine how that meeting went:

“Hey! What should we call these? Chewy Chocolate Caramels?  Lactose Losers? I know! Let’s go with Milk Duds!”

Muffins–Let’s be honest here. While English muffins benefit from the reputation of muffins, muffins could greatly up their cred by going with what they essentially are—naked cupcakes. For most versions, adding frosting is the only distinction between the two, but I guess I understand the hesitation.

It’s acceptable to eat a 500-calorie muffin for breakfast under the guise of “healthy” whereas eating something with “cake” in the name wouldn’t work. Unless it’s a pancake smothered in syrup, of course, because that just makes logical sense.

Ugli Fruit–This is technically a form of tangelo and while a bit unsightly, was the term “ugli” really necessary? Were these people trying to make them sound unappealing so that they could hoard them all for themselves? I would go with “unique” fruit or “has a great personality” fruit. “Ugli” just seems a bit cruel.

Leftovers–Finally, people complain about leftovers all the time, most likely due in part to the fact that they’re considered scraps that are just “left over.” True, sometimes they’re not as stellar when performing in the second act, but if you think of them as “edible encores” it might spice things up a bit.

Speaking of spice, how did Allspice corner the market on that one? Talk about a confident condiment.

At any rate, bon appetite, my friends.

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21 responses to “Food Marketing 101

  1. Wiping tears of laughter here…love your descriptions…especially ‘butter sponge’ …very true, and so tasty! 😉

  2. Ok, that made me giggle. You had me at salad

  3. I am adding “edible encore” to my (and my children’s) vocabulary.

  4. I’d agree with most of these, especially ‘salad’. When fast food joints start putting ‘salad’ on their menu, you know something is up. In some cases these so-called salads have more calories than the burgers!

  5. “Head Cheese—Lies! NOT CHEESE!”
    “Sweet Breads—Lies! NOT BREAD!”

    Me Again…. Hahahahahahaa!!! Impeccable form 😉

  6. I love this! Trying to pick my favorite line is like trying to decide which is my favorite child (as every parent knows, that all depends…).

  7. LOL!!! I bought some Bays’ butter sponges yesterday.

  8. LOVE ‘has a great personality friut’! Hilarious.

  9. Exactly how I feel about meatloaf. In all honesty, I love a good meatloaf. But what an unfortunate name for a food. “Bob, what is it?” “Well…it’s basically a loaf. Of meat.”

  10. Naked cupcakes! Love it. You should totally be in charge of What We Call All The Things.

  11. Edible encores, I like it, especially since I’m a huge fan of leftovers and am always trying to sell those suckers. You’ve given me inspiration or certainly a better way to market them.

  12. I am going to start calling left-overs edible encores! Maybe then I can get my husband to eat them. Very clever.

  13. Hahaha this was great. You should be in charge of naming all the things, as Steph said! I had a car in high school that was radish. It was a 66 Mustand, so that was pretty rad, but it was forest green and had holes in the floor board which allowed water to splash into when it was raining, so hence, the ish. Have a great weekend!

  14. Naked cupcakes! Perfect! I’ve always thought muffins were simply unfrosted cupcakes but I never thought of such an ingenious name! 🙂

  15. Poor radish. So spicy, so misunderstood.

  16. “Lettuce gravy…” I’ll never be able to look at salad dressing the same way. BAHAHAHAHA!

  17. your descriptions = genius levels of Einstein proportions. Hilarious and so glad I found your blog!

  18. I appreciate your straight forward no B.S. approach to the way food marketing claims to label food to be healthy when in fact it is not. It is interesting how it is appears to be manipulated into a health food it is not. I am told how “weird” I eat or that I don’t eat like everyone else. Funny thing is if I ate like everyone else my health would be appear to resemble those of an unhealthy state. It’s time to look outside the box. Thanks for sharing and making us think. More people need to think about and be concerned about what they are consuming. Educate yourself and be a role model!

  19. My leftovers will now forever be known as edible encores!

  20. Following on from Head Cheese; Mountain Oysters have nothing to do with the ocean…

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