I eat Cheez-Its.
It’s the baked snack crackers that proclaim they are “made with 100 percent real cheese.”
Among the baker’s brew they toss together is cheese made with skim milk and cheese cultures.
It is clear if you read the ingredients and understand how genuine cheese is made by standards that stretch back to 5,500 BC and not the processed version that came out of Switzerland in 1911 that claiming Cheez-Its are made from “real cheese” would have more than a few cheese purists turning up their noses.
The invention of processed cheese, by the way, made it possible to have plentiful cheese in quantities enough to feed the masses. Processed cheese resists melting, has a much longer shelf life, and has a more pleasing uniform appearance and texture than what some call genuine cheese.
From someone who puts cheese on the same level as chocolate and has enjoyed more than 30 different cheeses which doesn’t even scratch the surface, a lawyer by the name of Spencer Sheehan in New York State might think I should sue given my perspective that saying Cheez-Its are made from real cheese is somewhat of a stretch.
I have no intention, however, to sue Kellogg.
Maybe it’s because I have something that sue happy lawyers don’t have — a dose of common sense tempered by the fact I harbor no illusions that any processed food product is the real deal.
Besides I’ve been eating Cheez-Its long before I started worrying about the concoction Kellogg uses to make them and continue to eat them years after I clearly understood that it contains no real cheese per se would not be what I would consider today with the sensibilities I have formed when it comes to basic natural food and food product sensibilities.
Sheehan, it would seem, sees things a bit differently.
The lawyer was the subject of a Wall Street Journal story this past week regarding a lawsuit he has filed against Kellogg.
His beef is with strawberry Pop Tarts.
More precisely it’s the fact they allegedly use more pears and apples than strawberries in the making of strawberry Pop Tarts yet they still taste like strawberries.
If you read the labels on a wide array of juices and food products that say they are a certain “fruit” flavor you will notice the ingredients list other fruits as well.
I’m not a food technologist but I’m willing to bet it has something to do with preserving the taste and/or making it taste to the point it reminds people of the taste of biting into the real thing fresh as opposed to drinking or chewing it in a concoction of some sort six months to a year or so after it was picked.
Sheehan concedes he doesn’t expect to be eating fresh strawberries when he bites into a strawberry Pop Tart. He simply contends if Kellogg labels it as “strawberry” it should be all strawberries. If not, he wants it labeled as anything but strawberry.
Sheehan told the Journal his end game is to force Kellogg to change its labeling.
His argument is rooted in New York State laws dealing with consumer fraud. He claims Kellogg misleads buyers into believing strawberry Pop Tarts are a high-quality food product.
Apologies to Pop Tart aficionados, but I never got the impression Pop Tarts were a high quality product. They’re not something you’d get at a niche bakery along the Seine River in Paris. They are junk food.
That’s not to mean they are without nutritional value or without natural ingredients. It’s just that in 2021 most of America that has managed to survive adolescence and acne would consider Pop Tarts more of a junk food than anything else.
When it comes to taste — based on the three or four times in my life I’ve had a Pop Tart — they never struck me as being on par with fresh fruit. The same is true about Cheez-Its taste and that of real cheese.
But while I can’t stand the taste of Pop Tarts and other baked toaster pastries because of the jacked up taste from added sugars, I do like the taste of Cheez-Its. And yet as someone who has strived to get rid of products with added sugars and salts that are frozen, canned, or otherwise packaged as processed food in order to keep my weight under control and skirt avoiding an array of health concerns, I still eat Cheez-Its.
That makes me no different than Sheehan who told the Journal that his lawsuit research includes buying cases of Pop Tarts.
He admits to not only eating them, but giving them away so he doesn’t overeat.
In Sheehan’s own words, “They taste good. I like them.”
Freely translated, he’d like them no less or no more if Kellogg changed the labeling. That means Sheehan, for one, buys them regardless of what the label says based on the taste.
His point that people wouldn’t buy it if it said it tasted like anything else but strawberry is a little disingenuous especially when they become repeat buyers.
But the real problem is the implied equating of a product labeled “strawberry” sold on shelves away from the produce section as having the expectation of either being natural or a health food is a real stretch. That is especially true since Kellogg’s label discloses what is inside a Pop Tart in the ingredients on the back of the package.
Suing over the word “strawberry” for it being misleading is akin to suing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures for the fact a real pink panther is not in the movie of the same name.
Sheehan isn’t the only person trying to haul Kellogg into court.
Among the others is Illinois resident Anita Harris who is seeking $5 million. She essentially contends Kellogg is misleading consumers by not making it clear on the front of packaging as other makers of toaster pastries do that the ingredients in a frosted strawberry Pop Tart are both natural and artificial.
Anyone who believes Pop Tarts is “natural” by any stretch of the imagination won’t change their buying habits if Kellogg is forced to alter its packaging labels.
And if anyone is serious about searching for natural food the last place they would be looking is in the junk food aisles.
All things considered suing Kellogg over wording on their Pop Tart packaging is half baked as it is based on the assumption that people think like lawyers which, in at least a few cases, is a word that is interchangeable with idiots.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org