Special K® hijacks health halo

Seriously? They “help you stay on track”. To what exactly?

Special K® cereal may be the original diet food.  It was created by the Kellogg Company in the 1950’s, and is described asthe first high-protein breakfast cereal ever offered to consumers.”  At the time, 6 grams of (plant) protein per bowl of cereal probably sounded impressive, but Special K® was marketed as a diet food.  Interestingly, it’s not particularly low in calories compared to other ready-to-eat cereals.  And compared to 21st century cereals, it’s seriously lacking in fiber and whole grains.  The main ingredient is rice, followed by wheat gluten and sugar.

Despite the ingredients, Special K®’s health halo image endures.  And now it’s being used to pimp market all kinds of silly things that have zero to do with health.  As in the 1950’s, the word “protein” is used to conjure the image of health.  There are Protein Snack Bars,  Protein Meal Bars, Protein Granola Bars and Nutrition Bars, which have about the same protein content.  The common characteristics include:SpecKProtein

  • some kind of sugary/chocolatey/candy coating
  • added fiber ingredients, including inulin
  • protein from soy
  • a variety of sweeteners, all listed separately

Really, they’re not that different from any garden variety of sugary sweet snack bars made by other companies.  But they have that Special K® health halo symbol.  And the word “Protein” prominently on the front of the package.  The snack bar protein apparently “helps you stay on track“.  Protein or not, eating an insubstantial, treacly sweet, candy-like bar isn’t my idea of sticking to a lower calorie, whole foods, unprocessed diet.

SpecKMomentsWell, at least the bars have protein.  Special K® Moments are poorly disguised candy, masquerading under a health halo.  Sort of like crispy rice treats with a dash of chocolate coating. The health come-on is calories.  Each of these indulgent snack bites is “only” 70 calories.  Again, they supposedly help you “stay on track“.  To what?  A diet of sugary processed treats and snack foods?  What happens if that super-sugary flavor makes you decide 1 isn’t enough?

As for the fudge dipped pretzels and little cookies: don’t get me started.   There’s that phrase again: “helps you stay on track“.   Whatever track White Fudge Dipped Pretzels help you stay on, I’m not going there.



Copyright: All content © 2010-2019 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.