Food Marketing Terms That Really Chap My Hide…

Many of my posts here are about the oddities I find living in Italy as an American, but the reverse holds true as well. Having spent so much time in Italy, when I come back to the states, there are things that are normal to Americans, but rub me the wrong way because of my time in Italy. One of these that really gets to me is how we describe food in the states.

Italian culture truly does revolve around food. It is so important, that an Italian company really can’t get away with slick marketing terms that are misleading. That is, if something is marketed as “fresh”, it damn well better have come from the farm 15 minutes ago. But in the states, all of these terms to describe food have become meaningless. So here is my list of terms I find to describe food in the states that make me say “Are you freaking kidding me???”

How many times have you been in a restaurant that advertises “The Freshest Ingredients”? Really? Are you treating me like I was born yesterday? I mean, everyone does it, from chain restaurants to fast food establishments. That tomato that you advertised as “Fresh” likely came from a greenhouse on another continent weeks ago. Spare me.

Home Made
How many restaurants offer home-made pie? Home made meatloaf, home made just-about-everything? So, did your chef make this at his house this morning and bring it to work? Why on earth do we respond to this?

So I walk into some fast food restaurant and see an “Artisan” sandwich advertised. ARTISAN? To begin with, How on earth does ARTISAN apply to food? Do they have some little old man in the back with a lifetime of experience sculpting the ingredients into a work of art? I mean, fast food assembly line sandwich shops advertise “artisan” food. Please!

Put this up there with artisan. What is “Hand Crafted Roast Beef”, anyway? How do you hand-craft that? And if you do, do chain restaurants really do it? I think not, so why use the term and treat your customers like idiots?

Again, like Hand-crafted, and used ad nauseum. So the meat in your sandwich is hand cut. Does that make it better? Really? Do you honestly hand-cut it?

I see this on menus all the time, like Pan-Fried Salmon. I have just one question: How else would you fry the salmon? In a pressure cooker? In an oven? In the sink? I don’t get it.

Cooked to Perfection
How many times do you see a description on a menu that tells us the food is cooked to perfection? How else are they supposed to cook it otherwise?

100% Real
This fist struck me on a pizza box from Papa John’s. 100% Real Cheese? Are they telling me that other Pizza uses fake cheese? That may be so, and great that theirs is real… but what is the other pizza made of? How sad is it that we have to wonder if our cheese is actually cheese!

Real Fruit Flavor
I love seeing this on juice drinks. So which it? Real Fruit? Or Real Flavor? Are you telling me that the flavor is that of REAL fruit, but it is fake? Am I supposed to get excited that it doesn’t TASTE like artificial fruit, even though it really is artificial? Or are you trying to pull one over on me, thinking I will believe you are selling me real fruit, when in fact only the flavor is supposed to taste real? Huh??? Argh!!

Natural Cut
Hello Wendy’s! Are you trying to tell me that your “Natural Cut Fries” are naturally cut? Or that the fries are natural, and you cut them?  Perhaps they are natural fries that you cut naturally? Because a quick google search will show anyone that there is very little natural about Wendy’s natural cut fries.

OK, I’m done with my rant… for now.

Why Pizza is the Best Food
My Life in Italy, Part 6: “Amalfi, Rome & A Two Horse Town Called Soriano”
The 10 Best EASY Italian Recipes
  • More – this is actually from an article in today’s local newspaper explaining how yet another in the glut of sandwich shops here will differentiate itself, ““When you order a ham and cheese sandwich, we slice the cheese and put it right on the bread, and we slice the ham and put it right on top of the cheese,” Holliday said. “You instantly know that was fresh. You don’t have to guess how long the ham has been sitting in that case.”
    How else would you make a ham and cheese sandwich?

    • Wow!! This is what it has come to! We are supposed to be excited because they sliced the meat and cheese, and put it directly on the bread! It is no longer that it is high quality meat or cheese that makes for a good sandwich, but instead the timing of the slicing. But you know we are so well conditioned to get excited over this, right? Can’t you just see someone saying “Let’s go to Jersey Mike’s instead.. They slice stuff when they make their sandwiches.” Yikes!

  • Rant on! It bothers me too and I’m a regular old American living in my own country. Just how stupid do they think we are? Wait a minute …

  • I’m with ya Michael and have always had the same questions but with a chuckle (I don’t eat that stuff anyway) But since my trips to Italy those comments just really bug me – misleading gimmicky – and amazed that the consumers is so gullible. I don’t eat out very much – foods better at home!

  • 100% Real Cheese has always made me laugh . . . . . and have serious doubts about the cheese, or lack of it, on pizza.

  • Ugh. At our deli, we really do cut the meat by hand as you watch. We really do buy local, mostly. We really do make our own ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. and it chaps our ass that so many places use these words and don’t. By far, my biggest pet peeve is with eggs : “hand collected”? “All vegan, free range”. Chickens are NOT vegan!!!!