An article by Karen Robinson-Jacobs in today’s Dallas Morning-News business section caught my eye. (Registration, if required, is free) Its title
7UP takes a natural next step: Plano-based soft drink reformulates to appeal to the health-conscious
fair took my breath away. What’s up with 7UP? Has the soda pop giant finally turned over a new leaf?
Once I recovered from my initial shock, my mind began to race with possibilities. Maybe they have decided to begin a process of dialing down the sweetness in their product for the sake of America’s health, say with a gentle move from 39 grams of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, and on down. By the time they got to zero, kids (and parents) would be drinking pure water and loving it! What a concept!
Or, miracle of miracles, maybe they decided to replace the current almost quarter-cup of health-damaging HFCS with something a tad less deadly? Say first go to plain old table sugar, which is only half fructose, instead of 55% – 90% fructose. That would be a good first step. Then they could begin to dilute the sugar with glucose syrup, bit by bit, until it became all glucose and no fructose. Since fructose is about 150% sweeter than pure glucose, this maneuver would also begin the dialing down process of the nation’s sweet tooth. Substituting 39 grams of pure glucose for HFCS would, in itself, be a good step, since glucose isn’t nearly as damaging a sugar as fructose.
From there, they could begin a slow, stepwise reduction in the glucose content from 39 to 0 and again, the nation would be enjoying lightly lemon-lime flavored water.
But as I read further in Ms. Robinson-Jacobs’ piece, I realized my hopes were not even on the drawing table. The whole rebranding of 7UP as ‘100% Natural’ is nothing but a marketing gimmick to appeal to the unwary consumer.
Compare the two formulations and judge for yourself.
Old 7UP is made with carbonated water. New 7UP is made with filtered carbonated water.
An improvement, to be sure, but a slight one.
Old 7UP is made with citric acid. New with natural citric acid.
Old 7UP was made with natural flavors. The new one still is.
Old 7UP was preserved with calcium disodium EDTA. New uses natural potassium citrate.
Old 7UP had 140 calories, 39 grams of HFCS, no caffeine, no calcium, and no protein. And in every case (even sadly the HFCS) so does the New ‘100% Natural’ formula.
Nothing new (or particularly healthy) there. But there are two things I can’t figure out. First, how did HFCS get to be ‘natural.’ I mean, clearly, it’s an engineered product–granted made from a ‘natural’ one, i.e. corn, but certainly not like anything found in nature and certainly not healthy. Besides, just being ‘natural’ doesn’t automatically make something good for you to eat. Afterall, crude oil is natural, but you wouldn’t want to eat it.
And, just on a label housekeeping note, if old 7UP was preserved with calcium disodium EDTA, then how come the label said it didn’t have any calcium in it? Hmmmm? Can’t always trust a label.
To sum up, the only difference between the old and new and natural formulations is filtered water, natural citric acid, and a ‘natural’ preservative.
Surely the savvy consumer of natural products–who for the most part ought to be consumers seeking better quality foods–won’t be fooled. There’s nothing much up with new 7UP. Course, consumers seeking better quality food probably wouldn’t be seeking 7UP to begin with.