Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id CAA13699 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Thu, 11 Oct 2001 02:35:07 +0100 Subject: Fwd: The fruit formerly known as prune gets a name change and makeover Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 21:30:09 -0400 x-sender: email@example.com x-mailer: Claris Emailer 2.0v3, Claritas Est Veritas From: "Wade T.Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "Memetics Discussion List" <email@example.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable Message-ID: <20011011013006.AAA9099@firstname.lastname@example.org> Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's a little trifle offered as a diversion. It's not your
grandfather's breakfast fruit.
The fruit formerly known as prune gets a name change and makeover
By Lisa Zwirn, Globe Correspondent, 10/10/2001
What's in a name? Plenty if you're a prune. Go ahead: Snicker if you're
old enough to know the image that a prune brings to mind.
And so it was that California's prune producers believed their fruit's
name had outlived its usefulness and a more charismatic moniker would
breathe life into lagging sales. After winning approval from the Food and
Drug Administration in June 2000, yesterday's prune is today's dried plum.
This wasn't a hasty decision. Extensive research was conducted, explains
Peggy Castaldi of the California Dried Plum Board. ''For people who had
never eaten prunes, the name was a turnoff,'' she says. ''For those who
knew prunes, the product had a negative image.'' It's not unprecedented
for a food to get pigeonholed, and then be doomed. This one was wrinkled,
and many associated it with laxatives.
While it's a fact that appearance affects consumption, how often has a
name - misleading or otherwise - turned off potential fans? It happened
with the fish formerly called dolphin. The fish-consuming public confused
it with the mammal of the same name, and no Flipper-loving citizen would
eat it. But it's actually a fish found off the coast of Florida and
Hawaii; as mahi-mahi, it sounds exotic and appealing.
Then there's the Patagonian toothfish, which conjures up a vision of a
monstrous creature. This denture-filled species is now the more
acceptable Chilean sea bass. And sable, a fish generally eaten like
smoked salmon, is now served fresh in fancy restaurants as black cod.
Other foods have found themselves name-challenged. Ever bite into a
Chinese gooseberry? Its inedible dirt-brown skin is fuzzy. Yet the green
flesh inside is tender and juicy, with flavors of strawberry, pineapple,
and a hint of banana. The fruit is now called kiwi.
Despite the apparent need for a name change, the Dried Plum Board never
lost faith in its product. The new and improved prune (whoops, dried
plum) is plumper, moister, and tastier than it was years ago. The change
is the result of more effective harvesting techniques in which machines
gently shake plums off trees, improvements in dehydration and rehydration
processes, and advances in packaging.
Vacuum packs and resealable packages replaced boxes, which caused prunes
to shrivel and dry up (living up to their unfortunate image). The new
dried plum comes in four varieties: regular, lemon or orange essence, and
fortified with vitamin E and iron.
The name is not changing outside the United States because the rest of
the world thinks that the word prune, from the French, is fine. In this
country, where the old and new names had to appear on packaging for two
years (per FDA requirements), the Dried Plum Board launched a $10 million
The board targeted women 35 to 54, a group that represents 16 percent of
the population, along with chefs and culinary professionals. The Prune
Board's Castaldi wanted dried plums to make their way into home kitchens
in much the same way that sun-dried tomatoes did a decade ago.
In Northern California, the petite d'Agen plums, brought from France in
the mid-19th-century, and destined to become dried plums, are grown on
more than 80,000 acres. Ever since the name change, dried plum sales are
up 2.3 percent (the previous year, they declined 3.7 percent).
If you doubt the power of a name, perhaps this consumer test from the
marketing campaign will change your mind: A Houston television station
set up a table on a busy street with two bowls, one labeled prunes, the
other labeled dried plums. Willing passersby were asked to taste one
piece of fruit from each bowl. The dried plums won the taste contest; of
course, both bowls contained the same product from the same package.
This story ran on page E3 of the Boston Globe on 10/10/2001. © Copyright
2001 Globe Newspaper Company.
===============================This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Oct 11 2001 - 02:40:33 BST