Two or three sadly deluded parents across the United States are crying into their Cheerios after the astonishing revelation that chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella, is not, actually, all that good for you. Nutella manufacturer Ferrero has agreed to a 3-million-dollar settlement of two class action lawsuits for deceptively advertising the chocolate treat as “part of a nutritious breakfast,” thereby fooling the American public into believing that chocolate mixed with oil and sugar is, in fact, a health food.
To be fair – although it pains me deeply to be fair here – in the ad in question, a bubbly fake mom, who clearly cares about her fake children’s health, calls the delicious spread “perfect on multi-grain toast” and full of “simple quality ingredients.”
A California mother filed the original suit, claiming she “purchased Nutella … for herself and her four-year-old child, because she sought a healthy snack or breakfast alternative for her household.” She thought, after viewing Ferrero’s advertising, that Nutella itself was “nutritious” and “healthy.” Her four-year-old daughter thought she was the best mom EVER. Illusions were shattered for everyone when they finally glanced at the nutritional information, which is deceptively hidden in large font on the back of the jar.
Feeding kids is hard. My kids eat a lot of processed food and junk and I’m not proud, but I find it hard to believe that any reasonable parent thought that shoveling fancy frosting onto a piece of wheat toast is the equivalent of a banana-spinach smoothie. It doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Unless you’re from the planet Mars, Inc. where food is grown in the Milky Way.
Nutella has more fat in a two tablespoon serving than a Mars Bar and only fifty fewer calories.
Listen. Listen. LISTEN. We have to stop. Europeans are laughing at us. “Oh, those silly Americans, we can tell them anything. Chocolate is delicious and so nutritious for you, mais non? Eat!” Meanwhile they are snickering their eat-everything-in-moderation-and-walk-everywhere asses off.
Shortcuts are fabulous and I want my kids to eat breakfast too, but it doesn’t work like this. Similarly, injecting a few vitamins and minerals into a candy bar and calling it a toaster pastry or a granola bar doesn’t make it a nutritious part of a healthy anything. Oh, kids like chocolate chips? Great! Let’s mash those with oats and inject the mash with fifty vitamins that you can get from eating a true balanced diet. Now it’s a healthy choice for kids! What? It has 2000 grams of sugar? No problem. We’ll put it through the sub-atomic, de-sugarization catalyst machine and replace them with bulk chemicals that you’ve never heard of and horse hooves. Which have zero grams of sugar! Because they’re not food!
It’s simple. We know it’s simple. I know it’s simple. If we remember the rules, Nutella cannot fool us any more. It’s like a game, but we can win. Rule number one: one ingredient equals healthy. Broccoli, for example. Okay fine, unless we count pesticides and then we have to say “organic broccoli.” Apples. Strawberries. Beef, maybe minus all forms of slime.
Any step away from one ingredient equals a step away from healthy. Use of the words poly, mono, saturated, unsaturated, and amalgamated adds two steps away from healthy. In fact, if a nutritional label is required, you’ve taken three large steps away from healthy. That doesn’t mean we should never eat it. God knows – and oh, he knows, he’s watching me and he’s judging – we can’t live without chicken nuggets and instant mashed potatoes in my house. But we have to own that junk.
Rule number two: if sugar, oil, and cocoa are in the first three ingredients (a la Nutella), the food will never qualify as healthy no matter how badly we would like it to qualify.
If you want in on the action, Ferrero’s settlement with the people of the United States amounts to approximately $4.00 per jar of Nutella purchased during the specified time period. But first you have to admit that you were gullible enough to think that chocolate hazelnut frosting is health food.
P.S. Cadbury and Franzia, I want to be reimbursed for cumulative life expenditures of approximately $5,500. I thought I was taking generic Prozac. You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.