As we talked, he made clear that while he has worked on numerous projects aimed at creating more healthful foods and insists the industry could be doing far more to curb obesity, he had no qualms about his own pioneering work on discovering what industry. Theres no moral issue for me, he said. I did the best science i could. I was struggling to survive and didnt have the luxury of being a moral creature. As a researcher, i was ahead of my time. Moskowitzs path to mastering the bliss point began in earnest not at Harvard but a few months after graduation, 16 miles from Cambridge, in the town of Natick, where the. Army hired him to work in its research labs. The military has long been in a peculiar bind when it comes to food: how to get soldiers to eat more rations when they are in the field.
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He fundamentally changed the honeywell way the food industry thinks about making you happy. Well, yes and. One thing Gladwell didnt mention is that the food industry already knew some things about making people happy — and it started with sugar. Many of the Prego sauces — whether cheesy, chunky or light — have one feature in common: The largest ingredient, after tomatoes, is sugar. A mere half-cup of Prego Traditional, for instance, has the equivalent of more than two teaspoons of sugar, as much as two-plus Oreo cookies. It also delivers one-third of the sodium recommended for a majority of American adults for an entire day. In making these sauces, campbell supplied the ingredients, including the salt, sugar and, for some versions, fat, while moskowitz supplied the optimization. More is not necessarily better, moskowitz wrote in his own account of the Prego project. As the sensory intensity (say, of sweetness) increases, consumers first say that they like the product more, but eventually, with a middle level of sweetness, consumers like the product the most (this is their optimum, or bliss, point). I first met Moskowitz on a crisp day in the spring of 2010 at the harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan.
There are people who like their spaghetti sauce plain. There are people who like their spaghetti sauce spicy. And there are people who like it extra-chunky. And of those three facts, the third one was the most significant, because at the time, in the early 1980s, if you went to a supermarket, you would not find extra-chunky spaghetti sauce. And Prego turned to howard, and they said, Are you telling me that one-third of Americans crave extra-chunky spaghetti sauce, and yet no one is servicing their needs? And he said, yes. And Prego then went back and completely reformulated their spaghetti sauce and came out with a line review of extra-chunky that immediately and completely took over the spaghetti-sauce business in this country. That is Howards gift to the American people.
In the most complicated projects, color 23 must be combined with Syrup 11 and Packaging 6, and on and on, in seemingly infinite combinations. Even for jobs in which the only concern is taste and the variables are limited to the ingredients, endless charts and graphs will come spewing out of Moskowitzs computer. The mathematical model maps out the ingredients to the sensory perceptions these ingredients create, he told me, so i can just dial a new product. This is the engineering approach. Moskowitzs work on Prego spaghetti sauce was memorialized in a 2004 presentation by the author Malcolm Gladwell at the ted conference in Monterey, biography calif.: After. Months and months, he had a mountain of data about how the American people feel about spaghetti sauce. And sure enough, if you sit down and you analyze all this data on spaghetti sauce, you realize that all Americans fall into one of three groups.
In this field, Im a game changer. Photo Credit Grant Cornett for The new York times; Prop Stylist: Janine iversen. In the process of product optimization, food engineers alter a litany of variables with the sole intent of finding the most perfect version (or versions) of a product. Ordinary consumers are paid to spend hours sitting in rooms where they touch, feel, sip, smell, swirl and taste whatever product is in question. Their opinions are dumped into a computer, and the data are sifted and sorted through a statistical method called conjoint analysis, which determines what features will be most attractive to consumers. Moskowitz likes to imagine that his computer is divided into silos, in which each of the attributes is stacked. But its not simply a matter of comparing Color 23 with Color.
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What they all wanted was Dr Pepper, which until 2001 occupied a biographies comfortable third-place spot in the soda aisle behind Coca-cola and Pepsi. But then a flood of spinoffs from the two soda giants showed up on the shelves — lemons and limes, vanillas and coffees, raspberries and oranges, whites and blues and clears — what in food-industry lingo are known as line extensions, and Dr Pepper started. Responding to this pressure, cadbury Schweppes created its first spinoff, other than a diet version, in the sodas 115-year history, a bright red soda with a very un-Dr Pepper name: Red Fusion. If we are to re-establish Dr Pepper back to its historic growth rates, we have to add more excitement, the companys president, jack kilduff, said. One particularly promising market, kilduff pointed out, was the rapidly growing Hispanic and African-American communities. But consumers hated Red Fusion.
Dr Pepper is my all-time favorite drink, so i was curious about the red Fusion, a california mother of three wrote on a blog to warn other Peppers away. Stung by the rejection, cadbury Schweppes in 2004 turned to a food-industry legend named Howard Moskowitz. Moskowitz, who studied mathematics and holds. In experimental psychology from Harvard, runs a consulting firm in White Plains, where for more than three decades he has optimized a variety of products for Campbell soup, general foods, Kraft and PepsiCo. Ive optimized soups, moskowitz told. Ive optimized salad dressings and pickles.
But I was also struck by how prescient the organizers of the sit-down had been. Today, one in three adults is considered clinically obese, along with one in five kids, and 24 million Americans are afflicted by type 2 diabetes, often caused by poor diet, with another 79 million people having pre-diabetes. Even gout, a painful form of arthritis once known as the rich mans disease for its associations with gluttony, now afflicts eight million Americans. The public and the food companies have known for decades now — or at the very least since this meeting — that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control?
Its not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. I talked to more than 300 people in or formerly employed by the processed-food industry, from scientists to marketers. Some were willing whistle-blowers, while others spoke reluctantly when presented with some of the thousands of pages of secret memos that i obtained from inside the food industrys operations. What follows is a series of small case studies of a handful of characters whose work then, and perspective now, sheds light on how the foods are created and sold to people who, while not powerless, are extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these companies. In This field, Im a game Changer. John Lennon couldnt find it in England, so he had cases of it shipped from New York to fuel the Imagine sessions. The beach boys, zz top and Cher all stipulated in their contract riders that it be put in their dressing rooms when they toured. Hillary Clinton asked for it when she traveled as first lady, and ever after her hotel suites were dutifully stocked.
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He would push his people onward, and he urged his peers to do the same. Sangers response effectively ended the meeting. What can I say? James Behnke told me years later. These guys werent as receptive as we thought they would. Behnke chose his words deliberately. He wanted to be fair. Sanger was trying to say, look, words were not going to screw around with the company jewels here and change the formulations because a bunch of guys in white coats are worried about obesity. The meeting was remarkable, first, for the insider admissions of guilt.
(by years end, it would hit 100 million in sales.). According to sales the sources I spoke with, sanger began by reminding the group that consumers were fickle. (Sanger declined to be interviewed.) Sometimes they worried about sugar, other times fat. General Mills, he said, acted responsibly to both the public and shareholders by offering products to satisfy dieters and other concerned shoppers, from low sugar to added whole grains. But most often, he said, people bought what they liked, and they liked what tasted good. Dont talk to me about nutrition, he reportedly said, taking on the voice of the typical consumer. Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, dont run around trying to sell stuff that doesnt taste good. To react to the critics, sanger said, would jeopardize the sanctity of the recipes that had made his products so successful. General Mills would not pull back.
— as head of General Mills — who had the most to lose when it came to dealing with obesity. Under his leadership, general Mills had overtaken not just the cereal aisle but other sections of the grocery store. The companys Yoplait brand had transformed traditional unsweetened breakfast yogurt into a veritable dessert. It now had twice as much sugar per serving as General Mills marshmallow cereal Lucky charms. And yet, because of yogurts well-tended image as a wholesome snack, sales of Yoplait were soaring, with annual revenue topping 500 million. Emboldened by the success, the companys development wing pushed even harder, inventing a yoplait variation that came in a squeezable tube — perfect for kids. They called it go-gurt and rolled it out nationally in the weeks before the.
Merely getting the executives to acknowledge some culpability was an important first step, he knew, so his plan would start off with a essay small but crucial move: the industry should use the expertise of scientists — its own and others — to gain a deeper. Once this was achieved, the effort could unfold on several fronts. To be sure, there would be no getting around the role that packaged foods and drinks play in overconsumption. They would have to pull back on their use of salt, sugar and fat, perhaps by imposing industrywide limits. But it wasnt just a matter of these three ingredients; the schemes they used to advertise and market their products were critical, too. Mudd proposed creating a code to guide the nutritional aspects of food marketing, especially to children. We are saying that the industry should make a sincere effort to be part of the solution, mudd concluded. And that by doing so, we can help to defuse the criticism thats building against. What happened next was not written down.
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Mudd then did the unthinkable. He drew a connection to the last thing in the world the. E.O.s wanted linked to their products: cigarettes. First came a" from a yale book University professor of psychology and public health, kelly Brownell, who was an especially vocal proponent of the view that the processed-food industry should be seen as a public health menace: As a culture, weve become upset by the. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco. If anyone in the food industry ever doubted there was a slippery slope out there, mudd said, i imagine they are beginning to experience a distinct sliding sensation right about now. Mudd then presented the plan he and others had devised to address the obesity problem.