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September 21, 2020

Black Forest Products: Real Juicy?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

MrConsumer saw this commercial for a new product under the brand name Black Forest last week:

It certainly conveys a warm, woodsy, natural feeling to viewers. And the products seem like they are healthy because the announcer says they are “made from real fruit juice and colors from natural sources… Black Forest — real juicy, real good.”

What caught MrConsumer’s eye, however, was the faint footnote:

*MOUSE PRINT:

footnote

Say what? Only 7.9 percent juice? What’s the rest of it? You guessed it — primarily sugar.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nutrition facts

While apple juice concentrate is the third ingredient, the other fruits pictured on the “Juicy Burst” box are the last three ingredients. In fact, there is more wax in the product than those juices. And a number of other fruits and vegetables are only used as coloring. The nutritional value of this juicy fruit snack is pretty much limited to the vitamin C that the company adds.

So while this product is portrayed as a seemingly healthy snack, we’d call it candy. And no wonder, the Black Forest brand is owned by the Ferrara Candy Company which makes Brach’s, Nerds, SweeTarts, Chuckles, RedHots, and classic candy corn.




• • •

September 14, 2020

Need a New Refrigerator Fast? Don’t Count On It!

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

MrConsumer had a refrigerator emergency about a week ago. His five-year-old Kenmore side-by-side refrigerator was climbing in temperature from a perfect 37 degrees to an out-of-spec 42 degrees. Both the freezer and refrigerator sections were filled to the brim, and I didn’t want to suffer hundreds of dollars of food losses.

But how do you get a repair person on the weekend and then probably have to wait days or weeks for a part to arrive? Well, maybe the faster method was to buy a new refrigerator. So MrConsumer checked Sears.com and found the current version of his exact model which is one of the very few of this capacity that just fits through his back door and between his cabinets.

The initial search indicated it could be delivered in “3+ days” which might just make it in time. But clicking on the detail revealed the inconvenient truth (and also that Sears had stopped free delivery).

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sears Kenmore fridge

What? Three days became over a month for delivery. So now it was time to check Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy for the Whirlpool or Maytag version of this model. (My Kenmore was made by Whirlpool.)

The news at those stores wasn’t much better. Either those models were not available at all in my area, or the wait was anywhere from over three weeks to three months.

Best Buy Maytag


Best Buy Whirlpool Home Depot - Whirlpool


Lowe's Maytag Lowe's Whirlpool

With fast delivery of a replacement not a possibility, I started freaking out and tinkering with the temperature controls which have always been finicky. Lo and behold, the refrigerator came back to life, and my crisis was seemingly over. Whewww.

Nonetheless, not being able to get a replacement major appliance quickly was news to me and has not been widely reported. We asked three retailers why this was happening, but they were not talking. Informal chats with salespeople at Lowe’s and Home Depot, however, reveal that COVID-19 is the culprit. They said there have been huge increases in home appliance sales, not just refrigerators, and that manufacturers simply cannot keep up with demand.

Indeed, Lowe’s is now displaying this warning on its website:

Lowe's warning

So if you need a major appliance in a hurry, you might not get your first choice for a while.




• • •

August 17, 2020

Is Folgers Exaggerating The Number of Cups of Coffee Each Canister Makes?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

J.M. Smucker, the maker of Folgers coffee, has been the subject of several recent class action lawsuits, all claiming the same thing — the company grossly exaggerates the number of cups of coffee that each canister is capable of making. (One case is here, and another case is here.)

Folgers

For this particular Folgers variety, the company claims you get up to 210 cups of coffee (6 ounce size) per canister. And the instructions on the back tell you to use one tablespoon per 6 ounce cup or 1/2 cup of grounds for 10 “cups.”

Well, those crafty class action lawyers measured out the coffee to see what you actually got in each container (see below) and one of them mathematically figured out how many tablespoons weighing about five grams each there were.

*MOUSE PRINT:

For the French Roast coffee pictured above that is supposed to make 210 cups, brewing the coffee by the cup only yielded enough for 156 cups; while making the coffee in batches of 10 cups at time still came up short by yielding only 195 cups.

We asked Smucker how they came up with their yield of 210 cups, and for comments about the lawsuits. Despite multiple requests, the company did not respond. However, in a Florida lawsuit, Folgers argued that the amount a can makes varies greatly because coffee drinkers have different preferences for a cup’s strength. As such, it concluded, their claims are accurate.

Folgers is not alone in getting sued over their yield claims. Last month, the maker of Maxwell House coffee was sued for allegedly doing the same thing.

Thanks to Truth in Advertising for the case.




• • •

August 3, 2020

Here We Downsize Again – Summer 2020

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:12 am

Here is the latest roster of products that manufacturers have reduced in size in order to pass on a sneaky price increase.

 

Dawn

P&G has continually downsized Dawn Dishwashing Liquid through the years. The latest change: they knocked another ounce off their smallest bottle… it is now down to just seven ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dawn

 

Lay’s Potato Chips

One of the most downsized products over the years has been potato chips. The big bag gets smaller and smaller until the point where they reintroduce the large size again, but of course at a much higher price. This time around, maybe because parties are getting smaller on account of COVID-19, Lay’s is chipping away at the party size bag shrinking it from 15.25 ounces to 13 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lay's Potato Chips

Thanks to our ace downsizing spotter, Richard G. for this submission.

 

Walmart Great Value Paper Towels

LeAnne W. came across a huge downsizing at Walmart recently. Their own brand of paper towels, Great Value, was downsized from 168 sheets on a roll to just 120. And the price remained the same at $14.97. Some value.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Great Value paper towels

 

Dollar Tree Flour Tortillas

MrConsumer’s go-to place for flour tortillas is Dollar Tree. They sell one-pound packages with a dozen tortillas for a buck. Last winter, the tortillas seemed smaller, but the package still said 16 ounces. Then they introduced 12 ounce packages but still with 12 inside. I am happy to report that the 12 ounce bags were short-lived. They are back up to full-size and a full pound.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tortillas

 

Keebler Club Crackers

It looked like Keebler Club crackers had been downsized from 13.7 ounces to 12.5, thus eliminating a dozen crackers from each box.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Keebler Club Crackers

But thanks to reader Jim’s research, it turns out not to be the case. The “snack stack” box was the only “original” variety carried at MrConsumer’s local store. Visiting another store, the comparable “original” Club Cracker box was in stock, and in fact was still 13.7 ounces. The only thing eliminated from the product was the Keebler name and the Keebler elves. Perhaps even cartoon characters are not safe if a company downsizes its workforce.

Keebler now Kellogg's

If you find a product that has recently been downsized, please try to take a sharp picture of the old and new side-by-side and send it to us.




• • •

June 29, 2020

Haagen-Dazs Allegedly Cuts Corners With Milk Chocolate

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:39 am

Haagen-Dazs is one of the premier brands of ice cream, so it is surprising to hear of a lawsuit alleging that the company is cutting corners on the milk chocolate it uses to coat its ice cream bars.

Haagen-Dazs bars

According to the complaint, the company mixes in coconut oil to the milk chocolate.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Haagen-Dazs ingredients

And under federal regulations, if milk chocolate has an optional ingredient in it like vegetable oil, then it must be labeled as “milk chocolate and vegetable fat coating” or “milk chocolate and ___ oil coating.”

The problem is that Haagen-Dazs doesn’t do that on the principal display panel, but only in the fine print ingredients statement.

As such, the lawsuit contends that consumers are misled, they wouldn’t have paid as much for the product, or would not have purchased it all.

For its part, Froneri, US Inc., the maker of these chocolate bars, said “The labels on our Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar products accurately describe the products, comply with FDA regulations, and provide consumers with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.”

Companies have to use an emulsifying agent like coconut oil to more easily coat the ice cream in a hard chocolate layer.

We’ll let you know how the case turns out.

Hat tip to Truth in Advertising for the case.




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