Over the holidays, Pepsi announced two changes to its products.
"All Natural" Frito-Lay: First, the company announced that half its Frito-Lay chips would now be made with "all natural" ingredients.
"Natural," you may recall, has no regulatory meaning. Companies pretty much get to define for themselves what the word means, provided what they say is "truthful and not misleading."
By "natural," Pepsi means removing MSG, artificial colors, and other chemical additives from some—but by no means all—chips and other snacks. This is a good start, but Cheetos and Doritos? Not a chance.
As to worries that the word "natural" is a calorie distracter and might encourage overeating, a Pepsi spokesperson said: "It's meant to say: made with natural ingredients ... It's not meant to say: eat more." Really? I'm not convinced.
Tropolis Squeezable Fruit: Next, Pepsi announced the latest innovation in kids' products: Tropolis pouches of squeezable fruit.
I learned about Tropolis from a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, Valerie Bauerlein, who forwarded Pepsi's press release:
Each fun-flavored 3.17 fl oz (90g) pouch provides a smooth blend of real squeezable fruit, is a good source of fiber, and offers 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C—all for less than 100 calories.
Tropicana Tropolis is made with no added sugars, artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup; and no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
"Fun-flavored" is a euphemism for sugar. The press release explains what's not in the product. So, what does it contain? It took some doing to find out, but it arrived eventually along with some further background information from Pepsi:
The issue is kids aren't getting enough fruit, so Tropicana Tropolis is trying to help solve that problem in a fun, nutritious way ... Studies show that families are not getting enough fruit and vegetables in their diets, and the health experts we talked to (registered dietitians and pediatricians) when developing Tropolis also raised this issue.
As you might imagine, I was not one of the experts they talked to. Here are the ingredients: