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Once upon a time, breakfast cereals for kids tended to have the word "sugar" in their names. "Sugar Smacks", "Sugar Corn Pops", etc.

Then, sometime in The Eighties, sugar wasn't so popular with parents anymore. So cereal makers took the offending word out of the title, although the cereals still had the sugar in them if you Read the Fine Print. This seems to have happened around the same time they edited all the violence out of Looney Tunes.

This is an advertising trope, and covers situations when a food or drink is renamed or restyled to try to keep with the changing times, without actually changing the product in any significant way.

By the way, as of 2009, the sugar censorship itself is proving to be a Cyclic Trope. With "High Fructose Corn Syrup" now the new boogeyman, brands like Snapple and Pepsi are proudly declaring that they use "real sugar!"

Examples of Unfortunate Ingredients include:

Breakfast Cereal

  • Sugar Crisp → Super Sugar Crisp → Super Golden Crisp → Golden Crisp
    • Mascot Sugar Bear had two name changes; first he went from "Sugar Bear" to "Super Sugar Bear". When they started down-playing the "sugar" aspect, he became "Super Bear", complete with Transformation Sequence. At this point he's once again Sugar Bear.
  • Sugar Pops → Sugar Corn Pops → Corn Pops → "Pops"
  • Sugar Smacks → Honey Smacks → just plain "Smacks" → Honey Smacks (again)
  • Sugar Frosted Flakes → Frosted Flakes (happened in the 1970s). Makes one wonder what Kellogg's uses for frosting nowadays.
  • At about this same time, many pre-sweetened cereals also had their ingredients lists rearranged. By law, all ingredients must be listed in descending order of abundance. Before the Great Sugar Cereal Renaming, a box of (say) Froot Loops had its ingredients listed as "Sugar, wheat flour, oat flour, ...". Today, that same box of Froot Loops -- whose recipe has not changed at all -- has its ingredients listed as "Wheat and oat flour, sugar, ...".


  • Kentucky Fried Chicken briefly tried to call itself "Kitchen Fresh Chicken". Then they decided that just plain "KFC" was best. As of 2007, they realized that they weren't fooling anybody and went back to the original name.
    • Some conspiracy nuts believed that the change was not to eliminate the word "fried", but to eliminate the word "chicken", because what the restaurants sell was no longer legally classifiable as chicken. Of course, in reality, KFC's chicken is probably more "real" chicken than the stuff that goes by the name at many other fast-food places.
    • Snopes, just to cover the all the bases, has a page proposing tongue-in-cheek that the real reason for the name change was that the commonwealth of Kentucky had started charging a license fee for the use of the word "Kentucky".
      • It's notable that the description of the "chicken" is identical to "Chicken Little", a being made of cloned chicken cells from the sci-fi novel The Space Merchants.
    • They tried "Kentucky Grilled Chicken" for commercials only to coincide with their new grilled chicken options, it seemed to make them popular for a while. Grilled chicken is healthier than fried chicken in the eyes of public, but in reality, since KFC's grilled chicken is made without removing the skin it has nearly as much fat as their fried chicken.
  • International House of Pancakes became "INTERNATIONAL HOUSE of pancakes RESTAURANT" and then on to IHOP with a kangaroo as a mascot.
  • Dairy Queen at one point became DQ, and neither commercials nor their employees seem to acknowledge the chain's unabbreviated name.
    • It is still referred to as "Dairy Queen" in Canadian TV ads.


  • Omega-3[1] fatty acids. Shortly after they became popular, advertisers started referring to them as 'omega-3 oils', and more recently just 'omega-3s'. I've even seen scientists using that last one. This was all to avoid people getting the idea that the fatty acids might contain fat.
    • The original advice, if memory serves, was that omega-3s are better for you than the more common omega-6s. However, at least one canny company is banking on the fact that people have forgotten about that, as it's now touting its product as "contains omega-3 and omega-6!
      • If this (biochemist) troper has understood the lit correctly, the problem is having too much of one. It apparently doesn't terribly matter which, you need to keep them in balance. A pretty good rule of thumb in is 'all things in moderation'--everything's got an LD50.[2]
      • Yes, and the average American has a ~1:30 ω-3:ω-6 ratio, with the ideal being 1:1. Vegetable oils, corn and soy are the major culprits.
      • It isn't so much a matter of moderation as that the same enzymes are used for both Omega-3s and Omega-6s, so if it is unbalanced towards Omega-6 you won't be able to process enough Omega-3s, which have been shown to be important to heart and brain health, though I'm not clear on what their function is.
        • just an FYI: Omega-6 is normal fats like butter, Omega-9 is your 'healthier' monounsaturated fats (olive oil), and omega-3s are the ones in fish oil and flax seed. 6's are Pro-inflammatory, while 3's are Anti-inflammatory (9s are somewhat less inflammatory than 6s), a 1:1 or 2:1 ration favoring 3's will reduce inflammation; high inflammation is associated with diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and etc: thus the health claims, and the promotion of adding it to your diet. Sadly most "fish oil" pills have a 2:1 ration of 6 to 3 within the pill itself, and only between 1-2 grams of omega 3 total, the average american consumes well over the recommended under ~65g of fat per day: making the supplements mostly a scam, you'd need to take a ridiculous amount of them every day to hit a reasonable does of omega 3's, and even then, they have the wrong ratio internally to ever fix your total ratio.
  • Certain anti-aging creams contain amino acids. Like all agents used in anti-aging cream, don't expect these to have any serious effect. In advertisements, these are referred to as simply "aminos" because people associate the other term with either highly corrosive acids or LSD.
    • Never mind that amino acids are simply the rudimentary components of proteins, which human beings need to live.
  • Yogurt is touted for its "live and active cultures" or, in brainier circles, its "probiotics." Calling them "bacteria" or "nummy germs," however true, never quite caught on.
    • "Yogurt! It's like eating a ravenous rat!"
      • It has to be said that whilst biology students and health obsessed adults might appreciate the whole bacteria thing, most children see yogurt as being a creamy treat with no health benefits (unless it has fruit in it, of course). In fact, the mention of bacteria puts them off, because at the same time they're being told to associate bacteria with germs, which are bad. There was an advert some years ago for Rice Krispies Multi Grain which openly touted their 'Probiotic bacteria' and had young children in the advert who actually wanted to eat it after hearing about this. Needless to say, this was thoroughly unrealistic.
        • The science behind gut-flora's influence on your health is quite strong. The science behind probiotic yogurt and supplements was summarily dismissed by the EU as unfounded, and the US FDA "neither confirms nor denies" any health benefit.
  • Sugar substitutes like aspartame. It's either a wonderful alternative to tooth-rotting, weight-gaining sweetners, or cancer in a paper packet that affects your insides like nicotine and tastes like synthetic evil.
    • The common complaint is that it contains chlorine... which is found in most tap-water.
    • As mentioned above, the backlash against this is driving brands like Coke and Pepsi back to advertising the "natural sugar" they contain, where previously they banked on artificial sweeteners.
  • High fructose corn syrup, the currently-trendy "evil" of the food industry [3], is beginning to be called "corn sugar" to lessen its "evil" connotations.
    • One brand of pancake syrup (Log Cabin, if memory serves) proudly touts itself as being corn-syrup free...and when you read the ingredients, you realize that the main ingredient has been changed to rice syrup. As though that's any better.
      • It's different. Might actually be better. HFCS is basically fructose and glucose, both monosaccarides. Rice Syrup is maltose and maltotriose, more complex sugars that digest more slowly and break down (via enzymes in the gut) entirely into glucose. It's unclear whether this matters to non-diabetics or not.
    • Whatever you think of the difference in flavor (it may or may not exist), some have noted a good reason to hate HFCS: the only reason anyone uses it is that it's artificially cheap, thanks to ridiculously high US subsidies on corn, most of which amounts to corporate welfare. (Sugar, by contrast, is artificially expensive in the U.S. due to high import tariffs on foreign sugar, which shield the domestic sugar market against foreign competition. Pick your political poison.)
      • Fructose is metabolized differently, despite claims to the contrary made by the Corn Refiners Association. It should be noted that this is literally basic biochemistry--you cannot call yourself a biochemist without knowing how wrong is the claim in the (as of 2011) ads that your body cannot tell the difference. It might be worth adding that fructose malabsorption seems to happen in about two out of five people.
        • The 2011 ads don't claim that your body cannot tell the difference between sugar and fructose. They claim that your body cannot tell the difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Post-digestion, sugar consists of a 50%-50% mixture of fructose and glucose, while HFCS consists of a 55%-45% mixture of fructose and glucose.
    • HFCS may "technically" be sugar, with the same amount of calories/carbs/whatever, but here's an example to prove that this does not mean "all sugars are created equal"; if you are lactose intolerant, your body reacts to lactose (milk sugar) negatively. Lactose is technically sugar, but being lactose intolerant won't prevent you from, say, regular table sugar. From there, you can flat-out prove that there is some difference. Like the post above, there's something really creepy about it being everywhere.
      • It's "everywhere" chiefly because A) as the name suggests, it's derived from corn, B) corn is the staple crop of most of the Midwest US, and C) it's correspondingly cheap.
    • In the 1970s and 1980s, health food stores sold fructose (not HFCS, pure fructose) as a "healthier alternative" to regular sugar. When HFCS started becoming a health concern in the late 1990s, health studies started being performed on laboratory rats, and at least some of these experiments involved feeding the rats pure fructose instead of HFCS or table sugar -- with the result being a striking correlation between pure fructose intake and obesity. Although "High" Fructose Corn Syrup is not significantly higher in fructose than table sugar, Fructose = obesity became ingrained in the public consciousness as HFCS = obesity.
      • Concerning the terming "corn sugar", and how it's treated not different, this is not only a patent lie ( sugar is a well... a sugar, and gets flushed out of the body somewhat quickly, while HFCS is actually closer to a starch, meaning your body holds it for longer, up to 3 days according to one report[citation needed] , in which time due to its market prevalence you've probably had more), but has a bit of Fridge Horror, since the name could from there be changed to just "sugar" and if you had an objection or allergy to it, you'd be unknowingly ingested it. For that matter, given enough leeway, food companies could put any ingredients, including rat poison, in what appears to be simple and healthy food, and you'd never know....
    • It's entirely possible that this trend will come full-circle in a generation. An entire generation of youth is growing up today drinking soda pop sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. To them, HFCS will be the taste they grew up with and grew attached to, and table sugar will taste a little "off." Two decades from now, we may start seeing retro versions of the retro drinks that advertise "Made with real high-fructose corn syrup!".
  • Averted with the previous trendy "evil" of the food industry, Trans fats. Instead of rewording the ingredients labels, food manufacturers actually went out of their way to reformulate their products to be Trans-fat free by the time the FDA's labelling requirements went into effect in 2006-8. The added bonus, of course, being that advertisers could boast about "zero trans fats" and hope gullible consumers would equate that with "fat-free."
    • They also didn't waste any opportunity to label foods "low-fat" or especially "no trans fat" even if all foods of that type are.
    • Incidentally, as long as a product has < 0.5g of trans-fats per serving, they can put 0g in the nutritional information. (Partially hydrogenated oils == trans fats).
  • You can have Fun with Acronyms to invoke this trope, too. Most people don't pay a lot of attention to BHT, but would you eat something that said it contained "butylated hydroxytoluene"?
  • There used to be a brand of pretzels called "Captain Salty's" complete with a salty-sea-dog captain as mascot. Did they change their name or go out of business? Either way, the original name wouldn't sell too many pretzels these days.
  • Pretty much every company with "British" in its name officially switched to a meaningless acronym in The Eighties: British Telecom became BT, British Home Stores became BHS and so on. This was partly due to Patriotic Fervour being unpopular and partly because, thanks to privatisation, the companies were not solely British owned anymore.
    • There was widespread anger in the UK when Barack Obama called BP "British Petroleum" during the 2010 oil spill, as it was interpreted (perhaps incorrectly) as him trying to blame everything on Britain, when BP is 40% British owned and 39% American owned.
    • Now public displays of patriotism are a bit more acceptable in the UK again, some of the companies are reverting to their old names.
  • Barr's Iron Brew became Irn Bru many years ago as it contains neither a substantial amount of iron nor is brewed. The word brew is actually northern word for a drink. Similarly the drink is listed on the back as a 'Sparkling Fruit Flavoured Drink'. They don't say what the fruit flavour is but this is because it was originally said to be flavoured by iron girders (in actual fact it contains such a low amount of iron as to not be detectable).
    • Mountain Dew was originally advertised using the name's connotations with hillbillies and moonshine, but became Mnt Dew to associate it with the "Mtn" abbreviation used for Mountain Bikes, rebranding it as a sports drink.


  1. the - character isn't a hyphen, it's a minus sign, designating the distance from the omega end of the fatty acid chain where the double-bond occurs. If you are a stuffy organic chemist, you want to pronounce it "omega minus three"
  2. LD stands for 'lethal dose.' 50 is in, about 50% of the time it's the lethal dose.
  3. Actually, not all that different from table sugar
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