My mom would never buy sugared cereal for us when we were kids.
"It's bad for you," she told us over and over.
"But it's an important part of a complete and balanced breakfast," I said. "That means it's healthy!"
Back then, a complete "balanced" cereal breakfast on TV included half a loaf of toast, a quart of orange juice, half a pound of fruit, six scrambled eggs, 12 pieces of bacon, enough hash browns to land a plane on, and a cereal bowl you could swim in.
If you want to understand why America is so fat, look at what we were told was healthy when we were kids. With that much food, eventually you will hit upon a combination of foods to equal a complete breakfast. Statistically, sugared cereal has a fair chance of being in the mix.
Lately, the cereal commercials have backed off some of their language and portion sizes. Bowls have gotten smaller, and there's plenty of fruit on the table. But smart parents aren't fooled and won't buy it, now matter how much healthy stuff the commercial has.
Smart parents will, however, hide a couple of boxes from the kids so they can have a bowl or two when everyone else is in bed. Like Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch.
But don't let the cereal people fool you. There is nothing healthy about this stuff. It's pressed corn and sugar that has been shellacked with a high fructose corn syrup to keep it from getting soggy. If you want to be healthy, don't eat this stuff.
Candy bars are another food not associated with healthy living. In fact, if there is one symbol that is the complete opposite of healthy living — aside from a mountain of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch — it's a candy bar.
We're so used to the "fun" size candy bars that normal candy bars are obscene and gluttonous, and are eaten by people who want to commit diabetic suicide. So we eat 12 of the little ones so we don't feel guilty.
But it gets worse. The Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, Scotland, is celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Deep-Fried Mars Bar, a Mars candy bar, dipped in batter, and then fried in hot oil, invented by owners Lorraine and Charlie Watson.
Some people would say this is a deadly combination. After all, they say, candy bars are a negative health item, and deep-fried food is a negative health item.
But as I learned in high school algebra, a negative times a negative equals a positive, which makes the Deep-Fried Mars Bar one of the healthiest foods on the planet. (Update: Thanks to Jerome Kostelecky for reminding me that it's a negative TIMES a negative, not PLUS, that makes it a positive).
But while the Carron Fish Bar is celebrating what has become an international food craze — there are deep-fried candy bars at every state fair — the Mars candy company have expressed their displeasure at being associated with something this unhealthy.
The Watsons received a letter from Mars Incorporated condemning the treat, which said the candy bar company's marketing code "promote(s) a healthy active lifestyle to consumers and treats in moderation."
In all my years, I have never, ever heard a single word from a candy company about leading a healthy active lifestyle.
At least the liquor companies tell us to "enjoy responsibly," the lottery and casinos tell us never to bet more than we can afford to lose, and even Cookie Monster, much to the annoyance of anyone over the age of 10, now thinks cookies are a "sometime food."
But not once has a candy company said, "Hey tubby, drop the candy bar and go for a run." Mars Inc. may sponsor the World Cup and other sporting events, but all their sponsorship does is make me want to watch the game on TV and eat a sackful of candy bars. Moderation be damned!
Mars says they want to "avoid any consumer confusion," so they're asking the Watsons to "insert a small disclaimer at the bottom of any menus" that just because the restaurant uses Mars bars does not mean that the candy giant authorizes or endorses their use.
Frankly, I don't think consumers are so dense they think Mars Inc. has endorsed anything of the sort. Still, people don't seem to realize that this is a food that may kill you before you finish it, so you can't put anything past anyone.
Of course, I live in a country where we eat deep fried candy bars, deep fried bacon, and even deep fried butter, so it's not like I can be all haughty about it or anything.
I wonder what they could do with Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch.
The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.
My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.
You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.
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