Yesterday I was browsing the IFT website. Today a little clipping in Bon Appetit piqued my curiosity and led me to an online issue of Wired Magazine and an article entitled “Stunt Foods” by Sophie Egan. ** I am intrigued by the internet presence of the various elements that make up the processed food industry.
Egan talks about the Dorito’s Locos Taco (DLT), introduced by Taco Bell in March of 2012.
DLT is “one of the most successful fast food products in history.” Along with the bacon sundae from Burger King and our own Dunkin’ Donuts bacon-egg doughnut sandwich, these over-the-top, brand-blending excessive products are catching on. “… what’s unique about the DLT and its brethren is their flagrance. They celebrate their indulgence, rather than hide it.
“People are so sick of hearing about what healthy foods you should be eating…”, says Barb Stuckey, food industry expert at Mattson (developers of new food and beverage products, who promise “…compelling concepts with consumer ‘Frequency Appeal.’” Sure sounds like “heavy users” to me…). “When one of these chains comes out of left field and introduces something so shockingly indulgent, it’s like a release from the onslaught of fear-mongering about our health.”, says Stuckey.
“Megan LoDolce, (a food marketing researcher at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity), says marketers could be using these new food species to appeal to a sort of rebellion, conscious or subconscious, against all the ‘perceived paternalism’ common in today’s discourse around eating. And certainly the rhetoric of the fast food companies lends some credence to this view: One promo for the DLT, for example, simply said in big block letters, ‘GIVE IN.’”
So, the promotors of these products may (!) be knowingly marketing unhealthy food, encouraging and capitalizing on a spirit of resistance and backlash against the facts about processed food products. The push is to tell the consumer, go ahead, indulge; go beyond the basic fast food level of SS&F in your food and double the dosage.
“Once an idea has been hatched”, continues Egan, “bringing it to the table in real life can involve as many scientists as a government task force. Fast food chains’ R&D rosters include degrees like culinary science and nutrition but also chemistry and industrial, packaging, and mechanical engineering. Over countless iterations, food technicians work in test kitchens alongside trained chefs, with input from marketers and quality assurance specialists. There are focus groups and prototypes, operations tests and market tests.”
All in the name of profit. What a waste of all that brain power.