Earlier this year, we pointed to an article in The New York Times that covered the science of snack food. In it, Michael Moss detailed the many different ways snack food companies trick your brain into taking one last pull off of a soda bottle to wash down the massive bag of potato chips you clearly should not have finished. The story ended on a feel-good note about Jeffrey Dunn, a former Coca-Cola executive who was earning karmic payback by using his marketing powers to get consumers to eat more carrots instead of calorie-dense snack foods. Dunn is the president and CEO of Bolthouse Farms. The company sells nearly a billion pounds of carrots a year.
Their latest product showed up on my desk a few weeks ago. Dubbed Baby Carrot ShakeDowns, the packaging pairs baby carrots in a clear plastic bag with a small pouch of seasoning tucked into the corner. Would be shakers are supposed to pull the corner of the package, which releases the seasoning, and then shake the poor defenseless carrots in a non-sexual way to distribute the seasoning. If you need a visual, just watch this commercial depicting bathing suit-clad models shaking bags of baby carrots. It is in no way sexual.
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The editorial staff at the Observer was horrified at first. The ranch version tasted exactly like the seasoning you'd find on a potato chip, but it was dressing something that was inherently healthy. The juxtaposition of nutritious value against something that evoked Ruffles made everyone's synapses go haywire.
The chili-lime version was less jolting. The seasoning is very close to the small shaker bottles of fruit seasoning you see at many convenience stores around Dallas. Bolthouse Farms has an additional salsa flavor, but I didn't get to try it.
The consensus was "no good" until I offered that perhaps packaging like this might actually get kids to eat a few less Snickers bars and a few more vegetables. The hypothetical caused a few staffers to try at least one more carrot. If you want to try them too, they're available at Walmarts throughout the DFW area. Just please don't shake in public.