I was just reading my Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal (which is my favorite issue of this paper because of its many book reviews) and came upon a paragraph that I knew readers of this blog would enjoy as much as I. The paragraph comes from a review of a book titled Made to Stick about the methods marketers and promoters of urban legends use to make their ideas memorable and make them ‘stick.’ Not only is this paragraph amusing, but it shows that even a professional writer employed by the Wall Street Journal (the American newspaper with the widest circulation) is clueless as to the proper use of healthy/healthier and healthful/more healthful.

Fact-based ideas sometimes become sticky, too — almost literally. Remember when news emerged in the early 1990s that buttered movie popcorn was astonishingly unhealthy? A nutrition-education group found 37 grams of saturated fat in a medium-size bag of buttered popcorn, while the recommended daily total for one person was merely 20 grams. The researchers were appalled — but they also knew that the public, unsure whether 37 grams of saturated fat was “‘bad-bad’ (like cigarettes) or ‘normal bad’ (like a cookie or a milk shake,” would be properly aghast. Then the group hit on a way to make the point: They laid out a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries, and a steak dinner and then announced that buttered popcorn contained more saturated fat than all of them combined. Here was a comparison that everyone could understand. Sales of popcorn plunged, and movie chains switched to a healthier type of oil for their “butter.”

One wonders what that ‘healthier’ type of oil is? (Read:trans fat) One suspects that it is the same oil that this same so-called nutrition-education group (read:CSPI) put out the call to ban just this last year.


  1. The irony is that I believe the saturated fat they were using in the popcorn was coconut oil, the healthiest of the saturated fats and maybe most fats period. Sometimes I wish I had a time machine where I could go back and squash these ridiculous rumors and ideas before they take hold and ruin so many lives, but only sometimes.
    Hi Ned–
    It would indeed be nice.

  2. OK….is this going to be listed on food labels as Transfat? And if the contents are low enought to warrant a 0, how are we going to identify this in foods!?!?!
    Personally I’m happier each day that I’ve given up almost all processed foods!! Makes it easier if I know what the ingredients are!
    Hi Cindy–
    That’s my slant on it.  If I don’t eat processed foods, I never have to worry about trans fats, so it doesn’t matter what the label says.

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