Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

High Fructose Corn Syrup October 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 11:04 am
Tags: , ,

So I haven’t posted in quite a while, but classes are more time consuming than I had imagined. Anyway some friends told me about a series of ads for high fructose corn syrup, and one of them really caught my eye:

I just found the beginning of the first ad to be extremly accurate. I don’t know about all of you, but my experience with some white folks is that they judge my eating habits when I’m not the healthiest eater, but eat things I grew up with. Drink is one of those things– I love drink, and I felt like the racial connotations of this ad were obvious. Though some of my white friends didn’t see it as racially charged, all my friends of color definitely did.

And it makes me wonder if white folks judging our diets, and being vocal about it, is a common occurance for a lot of us.


11 Responses to “High Fructose Corn Syrup”

  1. Laura Says:

    Another blog I read (a sociological one) had a piece on this ad a while ago, and pointed out the (pretty obvious to me, but maybe as a white Soc grad) racial constructions in the ad

  2. Faatma Says:

    no thoughts on the reality that HFCS is the devil? and that this campaign is meant to confuse folks into continuing to eat the single most processed food on our planet? The racial connotations prove that they are marketing to original/indigenous people and the reality that the foodstuff available to them is wack! so lets just rationalize what “they” give disenfranchised folks so we “they” keep sales up? Sorry… this ad campaign makes me so mad.

  3. Royce Drake Says:

    I definitely recognize that HFCS is horrible, and the ad is definitely marketing a certain audience. But I don’t always eat the best I can, and I really do love “drink,” and that commercial very apparently spoke to my experiences. It’s just the media studies major in me that is amazed at how well this ad spoke to me. And I wonder why there are not ads for healthy things that equally speak to me, and reflect situations that I see all the time. Regardless of the product advertised I haven’t seen anything in white TV that shows a black woman asserting herself against a white woman’s imperialistic gaze, comments, and actions (perhaps “Maude,” but the power dynamics are different).

  4. Sofia Says:

    Even as a latina, I didn’t see the racial construction of the ad. Now I do. I wrote a long blog entry about how terrible these commercials are (because HFCS is sick), not fully realizing the connection between being a young black kid and drinking drink. And yet, my own family downed drink (out of the little colorful plastic barrels whose tops were tinfoil). I feel sillies. I still eat ketchup and have pineapple soda once in a while.

  5. Amandeep Says:

    I found this post following hits to my blog – a post of mine was randomly generated by wordpress as one of the links at the bottom of this post.

    And I just wanted to comment, as a woman of color, that I do not find these ads to be racially charged.

    Moreover, I’m a little confused about your citation of this ad – you seem to claim that there is some racism in criticizing American overconsumption of HFCS, but this is an ad in favor of HFCS. If this ad racist has overtones, it wouldn’t be connected to those who criticize HFCS, but rather to those most strongly in favor of it – the Corn Refiners Association.

    I would also suggest that you look at the pro-HFCS ad that I posted to my blog which is, in fact, a black woman putting a white woman back in her place after said white woman criticized her for serving an HFCS based fruit drink to her kids.

    Admittedly, all of these ads clearly target people of the middle or upper middle class persuasion, and perhaps that’s the real issue. Food and the choices one can make about it’s source, composition, and quality are governed very heavily by class, and as we all know, many minority groups in the US are at a class disadvantage, because of discrimination, historical and present, because of their status as a recent immigrant group, and because upward social mobility is harder and harder to achieve.

  6. Royce Drake Says:

    Amandeep– I only found one of them to be racially charged. The one you mention as having the black woman putting the white woman in here place. I decided to not call the ad itself racist because I think the racial politics in this ad are complex: one one hand its an ad that in many ways pushes high fructose corn syrup on folks of color, but on the other hand I’ve never seen a Black woman (or any woman of color) put a white woman in her place on network TV.

    I find the, very often colonial type, criticism of high fructose corn syrup consumption, AND ads that try to push it on folks of color to be troubling.

  7. supernovadiva Says:

    i was kinda POed when i saw the commercials, but i have to disagree with the commercials not being racist or classist. most of the low cost, processed foods out there are full of HFCS. Some of them even brag on the labels FRUIT or some other health benefit. Being that nowadays real juice and healthy options are more expensive (orange juice $7 vs drink $2-3). Great marketing, but enpowering a black woman to kill her children is as racist as the other ‘drink’ commericials that shows how ‘drink’ helped create healthy adults and you’re a good parent for it.

  8. Cy Says:

    For me, there are certainly racial issues underlying the whitening and processing of an earth food into a disasterous frankenbyproduct, symbolically and with regards to issues of food access. Feel welcome to check out a piece I wrote on the same subject at:

    Wishes for peace, love and radiance to the creators of this blog, vegans and raw foodists of color and everybody else too.



  9. Doc Sucrose Says:

    Come on… this commercial is produced by the CORN INDUSTRY! hah… come on, talk about people lying to you for their own gain.

    FRUCTOSE is more readily converted to fat by your body compared to other sugars. Not only this but it’s made in a process which uses bacterial enzymes to break down corn starch, it takes a few days and then all the icky enzymes are filtered out… mmm sounds great right?

    Look at the facts

  10. Royce Drake Says:

    Doc Sucrose–

    I thought about deleting your comment but decided against it. We all know that fructose does. Perhaps you missed the point of my post because you are more worried about your Vivi Soda?

  11. Adam Says:

    Thanks, Royce, for posting this! I saw the ad a little while ago and something struck me as unusual, and right, about it.

    I agree with you that the ad is complex: on the one hand, it empowers a woman of color by having her confront a white woman’s imperial, paternalistic gaze–I, too, can’t recall seeing this power dynamic on network TV. Yet, on the other hand, it appropriates the empowerment to sell a product that will ultimately harm her children.

    I’m surprised some other posters don’t agree/percieve this power relation. Over the last few months, I’ve had some regrets about how I promoted a speaker on decolonizing our diets to our Black Students Untied club. Within a society with white privilege, I must have seemed like the white woman in the commercial coming into their space, challenging their (non-veg) diets. [On a side note, everyone really loved and appreciated the speaking event!]

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