Prunes, aka Dried Plums
Prunes rank at the very top of the “Things That Are Closely Identified with Old People” list, making them a tough sell to anyone other than older folks. The fruit, which is extraordinarily high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, gained a bad reputation in the United States, even though people from other countries consider it a normal and healthy snack. In 2000, California prune growers decided to rebrand the fruit as a “dried plum” in order to distance it from images of the elderly, laxatives, and nursing homes.
Chinese Gooseberry, aka Kiwifruit
In another case of Americans and our fruit prejudices, importers in the 1960s decided that the Chinese gooseberry, imported from New Zealand, needed a makeover. They decided to rename it kiwifruit to honor the flightless national bird of New Zealand. Once the new name took hold, sales took off.
Baby Carrots, aka Junk Food
In an attempt to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, carrot farmers have unveiled what’s believed to be the first marketing campaign expressly intended to boost sales of a single vegetable. Their message: carrots are just as cool as other crunchy, neon-orange chips, doodles, and snacks. According to USA Today, the twenty-five-million-dollar plan includes packaging baby carrots in junk food–style packaging, selling them in vending machines, and circulating catchy slogans like “The original orange doodle.” The goal is to create an image of carrots as sexy, tasty, youthful, and “extreme.”
Would a prune by any other name taste as sweet? Well, in the eye of the American consumer, a name is everything, and these products have risked everything to become something more palatable, more approachable, and more profitable. People may be turned off by high-fructose corn syrup, but who can resist the sweet appeal of corn sugar? In the eyes of these products’ manufacturers, hopefully not you.