Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On Bribery, RDs, Health-Washing, and Thrive Vitamin Fortified Ice Cream

I almost don't know where to begin, but let's start at square one which is a product called Thrive Ice Cream.

What's Thrive ice cream? Well think actual ice-cream, but fortified with vitamins, protein and pro-biotics.

Now think ice-cream fortified with vitamins, protein and pro-biotics, with voluminous amounts of health washing (including their tag line, "Frozen Nutrition") that suggests what they put into the ice cream somehow changes the fact at its base it's actual ice cream replete with ice cream sized piles of sugar and calories (or more as for instance Thrive Homemade Vanilla has 22% more calories and 2 teaspoons more sugar than an equivalent 6oz serving of Breyer's All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream).

Now think ice-cream fortified with vitamins, protein and pro-biotics with voluminous amounts of health washed ad copy whose parent company buys a booth at the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 8000 RD strong #FNCE conference and installs in it a money blowing booth in a bid presumably to quite literally buy the goodwill of dietitians.

I'm honestly not kidding. Here are some photos:

Making it rain at #FNCE 2013

According to the tweet, this RD left with $209 in her pocket!
So is Thrive really a bowlful of "Frozen Nutrition"? That's your call, but if you decide that it is and Thrive's not available near you, just go out, pick up some Breyer's and scoop yourself 3/4 of a cup, crush in both a multi-vitamin and an acidophilus tablet, and on the side eat a small 24 gram cube of cheese - because that'll give you pretty much the same "Frozen Nutrition" as Thrive.

Or, here's an idea, if you're worried about your health (or counselling anybody about theirs) don't frickin' pretend that vitamins, pro-biotics and protein make ice-cream a healthy choice!

To be fair, the product's FAQ says Thrive vitamin fortified ice-cream is for people who aren't in fact eating well and might otherwise be drinking Boosts and Ensures,
"Any individual in need of additional nutrition, such as those who are in or recently released from the hospital, skilled nursing, or assisted living facilities. It is especially beneficial to those individuals who are suffering from flavor fatigue or unable to consume adequate nutrition through conventional methods. Children under 12 should consult a physician."
But I don't think that's really their target market given that in one of their videos on YouTube, Thrive's CEO proudly explains,
"Thrive appeals to a very large demographic because 98% of the people in the US love to eat ice cream"
And have a gander at this 16 second video originally published by Thrive on YouTube.

Sure looks like they're marketing it to anyone with a pulse and not just those chugging back Boost....and what do you think the chances are that they contacted those kids' physicians prior to handing out their samples?

At the end of the day there's no doubt that for many ice cream is one of life's simple pleasures, but regardless of what you or anyone else puts in it, it'll never be better or worse for you than ice cream ever was.

[I wonder if it was worrying about shots like those up above, of RDs being showered with actual money at the booth of a questionable product, that led AND to ban photos from #FNCE this year - though they wouldn't have stopped these photos as these photos were taken and shared by Thrive's own RD, Holly Raine who, believe it or not, also just so happens to be the president elect of the Missouri Dietetic Association.]