Archive for March, 2013

Abomination or Marketing Breakthrough?

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

So I’m in the grocery store in the orange juice section. Specifically, the Tropicana orange juice section, (and section is the right name because there are 14 distinct varieties of Tropicana orange juice) when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a new variety labeled “Trop50”.

The label says prominently “50% less sugar and calories than orange juice”.

“Huh”, I wonder, “how do they do that? Is it some chemical process like de-caffeination where they somehow extract part of the sugar?”

So I pick up the bottle and look at the back and check out the ingredients. Whubbah-wha? The first ingredient is “FILTERED WATER” followed by “NOT FROM CONCENTRATE PASTEURIZED ORANGE JUICE”. Wait, there’s more WATER than ORANGE JUICE? Yes, this is, in fact, completely true. Elsewhere on the label it states “42% juice”. So ok, they took some OJ, and cut it 50/50 with water. Fine, this stuff must be cheaper, right?

Nope.

Same _exact_ price[1] for the full 100% pure orange juice and the watered down 50% orange juice beverage. So wait, does it taste (and feel) like watered down orange juice? I’m guessing not, since Tropicana has conveniently added “MODIFIED FOOD STARCH”, “NATURAL FLAVORS” and “REB A” to make the beverage presumably thicker, more flavorful and sweeter than watered down orange juice would otherwise be.

In the interest of full disclosure, I often drink “orange-ade”[2] consisting of 1 part OJ to anywhere from 1 to 5 parts water depending on thirst. But when I drink this… I DON’T PAY FOR THE WATER.

My open letter to Tropicana:

With respect to your Trop50 Some Pulp Orange ‘Beverage’ which I recently discovered on the shelf of my local grocery:

You should be ashamed selling watered down OJ for the same price, and in the same section as your trademark “Pure Premium” orange juice. It exploits consumers who expect the product directly between varieties of actual Tropicana orange juice to actually be <gasp> orange juice. Kudos to your production team, however, for significantly increasing throughput without adding significant cost. Unfortunately, this product damages your reputation for a premium, great tasting, high quality pure orange juice. It certainly has damaged your credibility with this consumer.
– Sincerely, Chris Schierer

(Note: After multiple attempts at receiving a 500 server error at the Tropicana website, I was unable to send this comment through. I’ll try again later.)

  1. Based on a single sample of our local Tops grocery store []
  2. Shout out to Aunt Ann and the Schierer cousins for introducing me to this. []

“Ring of Fire” and Don’t Forget Your Towel.

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Two very blog-worthy things today:

First, SpaceX continues to wow with their latest flight and intentional return to earth of their Grasshopper test vehicle. The flight profile reminds me of the early rocket videos that suffered from pogo oscillation. I do NOT recommend the following experiment if you wish to experience this yourself:

  1. Sit in a running car in an area free from obstacles.
  2. Ease off of the brake/clutch so the car is rolling along at idle.
  3. Pull the lever for your seat forward-back release. (Electric adjust need not apply.)
  4. Gently press the gas pedal.

Anyhow, check out their fun video, which will explain the title reference above. Make sure to look closely at 1:14 and it will all make sense.
Update: And now, with an actual link to the video!

Second, all hail the king of British science fiction humor, Douglas Adams. he would have been 61 today. Google has honored him with an interactive doodle.

Pep Band Pays Off

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Many of you know that I’ve been playing with the Cazenovia Community Band. This has been great fun and a wonderful excuse to play my trombone again.

Most of the time I find myself drawing on the experience from the various bands I played with in high school… and trying to remember if I ever knew how to read music well. Tonight it finally happened.

I was able to to draw from that penultimate point in my musical career, the RPI Pep Band.

Yes, that’s right. Not only did this venerable organization of eardrum splitting proportions leave me with dozens of lifetime friends, not the least of which is my spouse, but through its wide range of classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s… I was able to draw on our musical stylings when tonight… the Caz Band played music from Chicago.

Not the musical[1], not the city[2] but the rock-jazz fusion band. Yes, tonight we played a medley including the Pep Band favorite: 25 or 6 to 4.

If that pulsing tune is not already worming its way into your Medulla oblongata, I give you:

  1. although I played the music for that in college too []
  2. We played that song last season []