“Corn Sugar” and Other Rebranding Efforts


The Corn Refiners Association has long been campaigning to improve the image of high fructose corn syrup. You might remember hilarious propaganda commercials spewing high fructose corn syrup facts aimed to clear high fructose corn syrup’s name by astutely pointing out that it’s made from corn. For whatever reason, these commercials didn’t quite take. My theory is that the acting in them was TOO natural.

Now the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration for permission to begin calling high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar .” This kind of re-branding for PR purposes is nothing new.

Diane recently posted about some corporate re-branding efforts. Here are some examples of food-related entities whose names have been changed for image purposes.

  1. Canola Oil

    You can imagine why producers wanted to change this product’s name from the original one: the cartoonishly-awful sounding “low erucic rapeseed oil.” The FDA approved the name change in 1988, and it did appear to have a positive impact on sales.

  2. Dried Plums

    Although this one hasn’t caught on quite as well, prunes can now be sold as “dried plums.” That’s a fair move, but it’s still funny that prunes–a completely healthy, natural food–took on such an unsavory connotation that producers opted for a different name.

  3. Altria

    Formerly Philip Morris Companies Inc, you can probably guess why the Altria chose to re-brand–although their United States tobacco division is still called Philip Morris USA.

  4. AminoSweet

    A slightly different story, but the motives behind it are the same. In 2008, aspartame-producing giant Ajinomoto sued British supermarket chain Asda for listing aspartame as one of several “nasties” excluded from their product line. In 2009, Ajinomoto announced a new brand name for its aspartame sweetener: AminoSweet. Everyone knows nothing can be a “nasty” when it contains the word “sweet.”

  5. Freedom Fries

    On the heels of anti-French sentiment which followed its opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there were boycotts of French products. Although “French toast” and “French fries” aren’t actually “French” in origin, re-branding the foods as “Freedom fries” (and the even more ridiculous “Freedom toast”) was intended to be a symbolic gesture.

  6. Baby Carrots

    While high-fructose corn syrup struggles to erase its unhealthy association, one of the most healthy foods is working to replace its “goody-goody” image in packaging designed to disguise it as junk food. Tricking kids into thinking carrots are Cheetos ?  That’s an even more impressive feat than convincing the public that HFCS is natural and good for you.

Do you know of any other interesting product name changes?

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  1. Yasarh

    4 years ago

    great post

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