Tag Archives: food

Minute Maid’s frozen juice ripoff

Old 355ml (right) and new 295ml Five Alive frozen juice can from Minute Maid

If, like me, you went to the grocery store recently and thought that frozen juice can felt a bit odd in your hand, it’s not your imagination. Minute Maid has decided to reduce the size of its frozen juice cans as a cost-saving measure.

The move is, of course, not being announced. There’s no obvious indication on the cans that their size has been reduced (the only real difference is that the logos have been rotated so they’re upright when the can is standing), and at least one major grocery store isn’t selling it for cheaper. On a trip to Loblaws last weekend, I confirmed that both the new and old size of can (the old ones were still in stock) were on sale at $1 each (the two have different bar codes, so it’s not a technological limitation).

And, in case you’re wondering, it hasn’t just been ultra-concentrated like those liquid laundry detergents. They still recommend emptying the can’s contents and three cans worth of water to mix the juice. So now instead of getting 1.42 litres of juice, you get 1.18 litres, a reduction of 17%

When asked about the change, Minute Maid (which is owned by Coca-Cola) said this:

“With the increase in commodities, rather than pass the total cost on to the consumer, the decision was made to adjust the package size to offset some of the increase the consumer would have had to pay if this adjustment wasn’t made.”

I then asked why this change wasn’t made clear to the customer. I didn’t get a response.

Loblaws also didn’t respond to a query about why it didn’t make the change clear to customers and why it was charging the same for both sizes of can.

I can understand commodity prices, inflation and the increased cost of doing business. One could even make the argument that some of these frozen juices could stand to be diluted more, mainly for health reasons (I usually dilute them to a full 2 litres, and even then they’re quite sugary). But households aren’t going to reduce the size of their juice jugs or how much they drink, so this move seems strange to me.

Except when you consider how subtle it is. When you see it in the context of tricking the customer into buying less and expecting more, it all makes perfect sense: It’s a ripoff.

At least a few posts on Minute Maid’s Facebook wall (which is otherwise clogged with posts from people who joined under the apparently false impression that doing so would get them a coupon) agree. None of those posts got a response.

Minute Maid’s brands include Five Alive, Fruitopia and Nestea. Other brands (including No Name, which is still at 341ml) are unaffected … yet.

So if you’re at the store and you’re about to grab a Minute Maid concentrated frozen juice, check the can to see if it’s actually smaller than you think it is. And if you see a 355ml can (especially if it’s still on sale for $1), stock up, because they won’t last.

An insult to Montreal’s smoked meat heritage

The other day, Wendy Kraus-Heitmann and her husband were up late and hankering for some food. “Because I fed him something nutritious and healthy for supper (seafood soup) he got hungry around midnight and we ordered some smoked meat and a poutine,” she said.

They called up a local restaurant called Pizza Expresso and soon thereafter the order was delivered.

“When he opened his smoked meat, we both looked at it. I blurted out ‘what the hell?!?!’ Pat was speechless. Finally I said ‘I need to get my camera.'”

She took this picture:

What Pizza Expresso considers a "smoked meat sandwich" (photo by Wendy Kraus-Heitmann)

“Does that look like rye bread to you? That’s because it’s not. And it’s about the worst mushiest tasteless wonder bread wannabe I’ve ever tasted in my life. These people should be run out of Montreal and shot on sight.”

Now, admittedly, you’re not going to get the best smoked meat in the city if you order it from a generic pizza place. But there are plenty of places that do a decent job (I get smoked meat from La Belle Province, and it’s good enough for me). You don’t have to offer it if you can’t make it, but if you’re going to have it on your menu, you really should prepare it properly.

Setting aside the taste (not good, reportedly) and the lacklustre presentation, who puts smoked meat on white bread?

Forbidden burger…

Sunday is Free Burger Day at Harvey’s in Ontario and Quebec (for once, a promotion where Quebec is included!). One per customer, 10am to 3pm.

Enjoy your 35% daily recommended value of saturated and trans fats and 38% daily recommended value of sodium (assuming, of course, you don’t want any topings)

Harvey’s website has a store locator (link fixed). Downtown there’s a location on Peel below Ste. Catherine which will no doubt have large lineups.

TWIM: Anglos, poutine and a gypsy

This week’s blog is Gypsy Bandito (and the Magic Flying Media Machine) by CT Moore, a social media marketing and other buzzwords-type person. His posts mainly take the form of videos of him thinking out loud while walking down the street, holding a video camera at his face. Others might think him insane, but we know better. (UPDATE: He just resigned from his job… so repeat previous sentence.)

This week’s Justify Your Existence is Gary Shapiro, a spokesperson for the Office québécois de la langue anglaise, the anglo rights group that is fighting for bilingual commercial signs. They launched last week and got quite a bit of media attention. They also ran this ad in the Suburban and Gazette on Wednesday:

OQLA: Help save the English language

My first question to Shapiro: “Is this a joke?” didn’t go over well. Though the name is a parody of the OQLF, the issues the group raises are apparently very serious.

(UPDATE: The West Island Chronicle does an informal survey of large stores and shopping malls to see what languages their signs are in. TVA also has a video report on the group, with the journalist talking to the OQLF, Mouvement Montréal Français, Gilles Proulx and just about every pundit he could talk to except Shapiro or another member of his group — no mention is made of an attempt to contact the OQLA to have them explain themselves.)

Finally, there’s also a Bluffer’s Guide on the history of Poutine. It may or may not have turned 50 this year, depending on whose story you believe. While the media tout the story of Fernand Lachance inventing it in Warwick in 1957, one restaurant proclaims it was the birthplace of the dish.

It’s just cruel to not provide the video (UPDATED)

Local news is abuzz (well, kinda, when they’re not blowing Harry Potter) about Global Action Network volunteers infiltrating a Quebec foie gras producer and gathering some awful footage of what they call animal cruelty.

Today they supposedly released video of their findings. So you’d think that the news websites would at least provide a link.

So once again Fagstein steps in where others have failed. Check out the four-minute video on YouTube.

UPDATE: The above video was for some reason taken down. Here’s another link to another video with the same scenes.

She ordered St. Hubert once. Oh the horror!

As part of its six-day food series, The Gazette today looks at the personal culinary habits of its restaurant critic, complete with photos that keep her off camera so she won’t get recognized doing her job.

It’s about what you’d expect.

My daily profile of a supermarket shopper isn’t online, but it’s in the paper on Page A4. Today is Daisy Leclerc, who was lots of fun to interview (albeit for a brief period).