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December 23, 2013

McCormick Black Pepper — An Important Source of Antioxidants?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on Monday, January 6, 2014 (our trusty mouse needs time off to hunt for his annual supply of dairy-free cheese substitute since unfortunately he is lactose intolerant).

McCormick ran a series of commercials touting the health benefits of its spices. (We reported on their health claims for cinnamon a while back here.)

One commercial proclaims, using words to the effect that “sprinkling black pepper on scambled eggs is an important source of antioxidants”.

Looking on their website, the claim is even made more specific:

Wow, more antioxidants than a 1/2 cup serving of watermelon. Not so fast.

According to the FDA, watermelon is not one of those fruits particularly dense with vitamin C (a key antioxidant).


A serving size is defined as two cups, and contains 25% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. If you wanted to get the equivalent boost of vitamin C from black pepper, you would have to sprinkle about a full teaspoon of pepper on your eggs. Ha choooooo. The recommended 1/4 teaspoon that McCormick suggests that you sprinkle on eggs will only provide you with 6.25% of your daily requirement of vitamin C according to them. Hardly something to boast about as a boost of antioxidants. As noted in the comments (thanks, Leeann), there are other antioxidants in watermelon too, but they are in very small amounts.

*MOUSE PRINT: suggests that even a full teaspoon of black pepper is not particularly nutrient-rich (but not all nutrients are listed on nutrition facts labels).

black pepper

In an interview with Ad Age, the company explained their advertising campaign:

The goal is to reach “people who maybe weren’t superinvolved cooks … but were still interested in healthy eating,” said Jill Pratt, VP-marketing for consumer products. The company looked at some common meals “and found a way to make them a little bit healthier by amping up the antioxidants in them,” she said.

No matter how you spin it, black pepper is NOT an important source of antioxidants in your diet based on the amount of pepper you might actually use to spice up an individual serving.

• • •

December 16, 2013

When Shipping Costs More than the Product

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:31 am

MrConsumer is always on the lookout for a deal on iPhone accessories for an Apple-loving friend.

This crazy low-priced email deal for a dock good for either the Apple 4S or 5S looked like a steal:

$5 dock

Clicking through, yep, it’s really $5. But, only if you scroll down toward the bottom of the page once you are on the seller’s website, do you see the catch:


$5 dock

If you happened not to scroll down to see that shipping was $7 extra per dock, and just clicked “buy this deal,” you would not have known the real total cost of your purchase until you went to redeem the voucher this company sends out.


$5 dock order form

Nowhere on the order form does it inform the customer of the $7 shipping charge. Is it any wonder that the shipping cost is not well-disclosed? After all, a $7 shipping fee for a $5 item kills the deal.

• • •

December 9, 2013

Holy Sheets: Paper Towel Size Madness

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

Have you shopped for paper towels lately? It seems that these paper manufacturers have conspired to confuse customers by putting crazy size comparisons on each package.

Four rolls of this is equal to eight rolls of that. Eight “giant” rolls are equal to 12 “regular” rolls. Six “mega” rolls are equal to eight regular rolls, but six “big” rolls are also equal to eight regular rolls, and six “huge” rolls are equal to 15 regular ones. Twelve “giant” rolls are equal 18 regular rolls, but 12 “big” rolls are equal to only 16 regular ones.

Doesn’t this drive you crazy? Why don’t they simply say in big letters (as opposed to the tiny print they use now ) exactly how many sheets are on each roll so you know what you are really buying.



• • •

December 2, 2013

Sprint Student Free (?) for All

Filed under: Electronics,Retail,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:53 am

Best Buy recently sent out an email making an astonishing offer on cell service for students:

Sprint student offer

They are providing a year of free service. That means free unlimited calls, texts, and 1 gig of data ($10 extra for unlimited data). What a deal!

It says however, “with purchase of phone at Student Activated price.” What’s that?


Sprint student prices

The prices being charged by Best Buy for the phones appear to be full price, the same as what Sprint itself would charge. In some cases, the price appears to be $50 higher than buying from Sprint directly. The benefit for the student, however, is a free year of service, without having to sign a two-year contract.

So is this a good deal? The less expensive of the two Sprint plans that the student is required to sign up for is $70 a month (plus fees and taxes) if he/she had to pay for it. So that is $840 saved for the year, but the student is paying full price or slightly more for the phone. On the other hand, if the student were to get a fancy phone free from Sprint during a promotion, he or she would have to pay that $840 for service. So it appears that the student could save a little by taking advantage of the student offer, but not hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

Presumably in year two, the phone might be able to be added onto a family plan at discounted monthly rates, and then the savings would increase (or maybe just get onto a family plan to start with to save).

• • •

November 25, 2013

TSA Pre-Check: A Pleasant Surprise in the Fine Print

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:01 am

On the way back from Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago, MrConsumer was stopped by a TSA official before entering the waiting line for security. He scrutinized my boarding pass and diverted me to the TSA Pre-Check line. Thinking he made some mistake because perish the thought would MrConsumer pay extra for a pre-screening program to expedite his trip through security, the TSA official said it was a random choice that I was being directed there.

Okay, I thought, maybe this is a heightened security check for random passengers. But how much more could they ask me to remove?

Turns out that pre-check is an expedited process to go through security. No removing of shoes or belts. No taking out your plastic bag of toiletries. No laptop in a separate bin. And no going through the full body scanner. All I had to do was remove metal from my pockets and go through the old-fashioned metal detector.

A check of the TSA website reveals that the TSA Pre-Check program is indeed a system being rolled out across the country. It is currently available at seven airlines, including American, Delta, United, and US Airways in selected cities. They have a secret formula to figure out who is harmless enough to let through security with only minimal screening (and clearly the system isn’t working too well if they let MrConsumer through ).

How do you know if you have been selected to cut the long line, and go express through security?


TSA Pre-Check

Look right on your boarding pass in most cases for that designation.

Based on the details found at the TSA Pre-Check program website you do have to pay $85 for a five year expedited “pass” through security. So maybe the TSA is taking a page from product manufacturers and offering a free sample to random passengers in the hope that they will buy into the program.

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