The Forbidden Fruit: How Do Companies Sell Hazardous Products?

Is candy really your friend?

In Foods on March 8, 2011 at 10:50


In a saturated market, Hershey‘s finds a great way to set itself apart.
(image © Hershey’s)

Kids love candy bars. To make sure children buy their particular sugar bomb, companies charge their sweet products with superpowers. In a particularly interesting commercial, Hershey makes their Mr. Goodbar a friend that stands up for you.

Why is candy hazardous?

Candy usually contains what could easily be the most problematic building blocks of modern nutrition; fat and sugar. Not only do these provide little nourishment for the developing body, a new wave of modern research also finds them to be absolutely hazardous. While obesity is a rapidly growing threat to youth health, unmoderated consumption of fat and sugar substantially increase the risk for diabetes and other disastrous diseases.

The normal Hershey‘s Mr. Goodbar weighs 49 grams that deliver 250 calories. That breaks down to 17 grams of fat and 23 grams of sugar. This sweet footprint has put the Mr. Goodbar on the radars of many concerned parents and a common reputation as the “worst trick-or-treat candy out there”.

How does Hershey‘s sell this hazardous product?

Hershey‘s tells the humorous and heart-warming story of Jimmy, a socially isolated boy. When the protagonist is denied the chance to blend in, his Mr. Goodbar candy bar materialises as a radiant friend who stands up for him and punishes the bully.

In this skilfully executed short story, we immediately sympathise with the underdog and although he is denied social inclusion, the audience by no doubt would immediately extend a warm invitation to this adorable outcast. He has a good character, but is not of particular strength or skill it seems.

Instead, he takes a bite of the candy bar and, immediately, Jimmy becomes the sidekick of who must be Mr. Goodbar, a tall and vibrant man who steps in for Jimmy‘s social standing. It appears that the instant gratification of a candy bar‘s good taste is not enough anymore to differentiate it in the market place. Interestingly, Mr. Goodbar (similar to Snickers) is portrayed as another shortcut to empowerment, but this time for children.

What does Hershey‘s say to this?

By portraying their particular mix of sugar and fat as a good friend, Hershey‘s is telling kids a wonderful fairy tale. There are no obese children in the commercial and no warning labels about responsible consumption habits. That the story takes place on a school ground serves as a reminder that kids need education; Jimmy should definitely pay attention during the next dietetics class.

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