Monday, September 21, 2015


I've seen many, many confusing product labels, but this one may be in a class by itself:

"Evolution Fresh" "Raspberry Blackberry" "Inspired by Dannon."

Let's take this one section at a time.

1) "Evolution Fresh" -- The fresh part sounds like it may be food connected, but evolution less so -- it's just weird. It's supposed to be sciencey, I guess, but that doesn't necessarily mean good eating. Is this somebody's way of saying the product came into higher and more complex existence over a long period of time? That the product was not created by Intelligent Design? Hmm---that remains to be seen.

2) "Raspberry Blackberry" -- as shown on the top. So you peel it back and some berries fall out, is that it? No, it's got to be some kind of food that features these berries. But what? What could it be? Doesn't say on the label! Gah! How can we know without having to buy it? Quelle confusion! 

Let's look at that last part.

3) "Inspired by Dannon" -- Ah, the clue appears. Dannon is a company known for its yogurt products, so this must be some kind of fruit yogurt, non? But does Dannon make this stuff? It is "Inspired by Dannon," which would seem to indicate this is some kind of tribute, or a cover, like Adam Sandler singing "Werewolves of London." Although the first thing I thought of was this Dave Barry column, where a pretentious hotel restaurant, rather than having a soup du jour, listed on their menu "Chef's Daily Inspiration of Soup." Which was the soup of the day.

But, even more curious, this product does not appear on the Dannon Web site. Is it, then, really a tribute product by some other company?

I found this product in the supermarket, but apparently it would have been known to me earlier if I were a habitue of Starbucks. It is a Starbucks-affiliated product and I gather it was originally sold in their stores, then in Whole Foods. I got it in a Shoprite. As is usual with this kind of thing, they hit you over the head with branding, branding, branding; it's not enough for them to say that have fresh organic whatever, they have to make you feel like you're best friends with the screamingly authentic ding-dongs (Jimmy Rosenberg, in this case) who are getting rich off the stuff, but really just make it from the goodness of their hearts.

But what does this have to do with Dannon?

Well, it looks like Dannon is involved after all. It would appear that they make the yogurt, or at least the milk part, and may be involved in the distribution; Starbucks seems to handle promotion and sales in its stores, and Jimmy Rosenberg provides hippie cover for everyone. That's a lot of people messing around with one cup of yogurt.

So how is it? It's fine. It's less sweet than other Greek yogurts with fruit, which is not a selling point for old Fred, but I understand the appeal to others with fewer sweet teeth and more concern for health. I find Dannon's Greek yogurt inferior to Fage in creaminess and flavor, anyway. The fruit is good, but doesn't strike me as better than the fruit from other premium yogurt brands. It's okay.

In the end, though, I can't get over that "Inspired by Dannon." I don't think that word means what they think it means. Dannon is not just sitting around, providing a wonderful example for others; they're actively involved in this venture. I guess that was what they came up with in the end---they didn't want to admit that Dannon made it, but Dannon was going to be damned if the logo didn't appear somewhere on the label. So the lawyers and the designers and the product managers got together in a room and beat each other silly, and this is what they came up with.

They must have beaten each other very silly to think "Inspired by Dannon" was a good idea.

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