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Yellow No. 5 & No. 6 Make it Sunny

September 15, 2010

I’m guessing if you are reading this, you aren’t likely the kind of person who drinks a lot of Sunny Delight.  There is a vague memory kicking around in the back of my head that as a child, I once convinced my mother to buy a bottle of the stuff.  And perhaps I’ve had it a couple other times over the course of my life.

Honestly, I haven’t even noticed this product on store shelves, and haven’t given it a lick of thought until yesterday.  I hadn’t even noticed that the name of the product now seems to officially be SunnyD.  Surely wikipedia could tell me when that happened, but I don’t really care.

So when Young Master Fussy brought this classic beverage to my attention yesterday, I was curious about what went into the stuff.  But even approaching it with low expectations, I was still appalled to read the ingredients.

However, it served as a good lesson to the kiddo about how food manufacturers tinker with products to try and make them seem like something they are not.

SunnyD is high fructose corn syrup sweetened water masquerading as juice.  Maybe that’s not news to anyone.  But it’s news to me.  Overall there is less than 5% actual juice.  So as I was explaining this to the kiddo, if you drink 100 sips, 95 of them will be water and only 5 of them are actually juice.

To make it look like juice they color it.  To make it taste like juice they add natural flavors (and sodium benzoate to protect the flavor).  To give it the mouthfeel of juice they add modified cornstarch, canola oil and food gums.  And to give it a modicum of nutrition, they add ascorbic acid for vitamin c.

I like the way words need to be parsed in the presence of SunnyD.  It’s not juice.  As far as I can tell with 5% juice in the bottle, one cannot use the word juice.  Wegman’s calls it, “Orange flavored citrus punch.”  It sounds like juice.  It looks like juice.  To some kids who don’t get juice, it may even taste like juice.  But here’s the kicker.

Ounce for ounce it is worse for you than Coke.

Granted not by much, but still.  Eight ounces of SunnyD weighs in at 120 calories and 190 mg of sodium compared to Coke’s 100 calories and 35 mg of sodium.  Not like juice is even a healthful thing for kids to drink anyhow, but that’s a separate subject.

Well, the good folks at SunnyD are giving away books to school classrooms.  I know this because Young Master Fussy brought home a flier from his teacher about the program.  All his class needs to do to get 20 free books is to bring in 20 UPC codes from 64 fl. oz. bottles of SunnyD.

That’s a book a bottle.

Another way of looking at that might be, a book for every 960 calories.  And all the students need to do is consume 19,200 calories to get these books.  But I’m left wondering what kind of books can SunnyD be sending when a bottle of their tangy original beverage costs less than $2.

You may imagine that I was nonplussed to hear about my child’s participation in this program.  That was until I took a closer look at the Official Rules.  It turns out that there is no purchase necessary. Here is what the SunnyD site said:

In lieu of Proofs, schools may participate in the Sweepstakes via submission 3″ x 5″cards/slips of paper, each including the hand written word “Proof”

So wait.  My kid can get free books.  I don’t have to buy junk.  The kids don’t have to drink junk.  And the books will come at the expense of a company that sells junk to kids.  Now that sounds like a program I can get behind.

[Update July 23, 2014: It looks like the above T&C’s have changed.]

Guess who is sending a note to the teacher this morning.

[Update: Mrs. Fussy rejected the note I had written to send to school this morning. If anyone wants to suggest a more tactful way of bringing this up to the teacher, I am all ears.]

16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010 9:49 am

    It is good that the lady-folk are there to make these decisions for us.

  2. AddiesDad permalink
    September 15, 2010 10:05 am

    Or, you know, the school could have a book drive. Get probably 100s of books and not put our children’s health at risk.

    Can we see the note? If anything, the best idea is to suggest an alternative for the teacher. BUT the teacher may be getting pressure from other places, too.

  3. Elyse permalink
    September 15, 2010 10:48 am

    The book thing is disturbing.

    Even as a kid I thought that Sunny Delight was gross. Don’t give me too much credit, though, because I LOVED Ecto cooler:
    http://www.x-entertainment.com/articles/0822/

  4. Mike permalink
    September 15, 2010 10:56 am

    I’ve had the misfortune of tasting SunnyD(elight) only a few times in my life. The one comparison I always come back to; battery acid.

  5. September 15, 2010 12:01 pm

    Gross, I only had Sunny D as a kid, my 90 year old great-grandmother used to drink it, but she also drank Tang and Sanka.

  6. September 15, 2010 12:20 pm

    Please post the note.

  7. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    September 15, 2010 12:31 pm

    The symbiosis between the junk food industry and public education is one more horror of our nation. We used to be expected to hoard Campbell’s soup labels–nearly as bad as Sunny D–but I always refused, telling my children that it was a plot to get us to eat stuff that is bad for you.

  8. Ewan permalink
    September 15, 2010 1:49 pm

    “My kid can get free books. I don’t have to buy junk. The kids don’t have to drink junk. And the books will come at the expense of a company that sells junk to kids. Now that sounds like a program I can get behind.”

    Sounds like a sensible note to me. What’s the problem?

  9. Mirdreams permalink
    September 15, 2010 2:08 pm

    I think the best way to phrase a note is to put it as way of partnering with the teacher. Let her know that you think getting books for the kids is a wonderful plan, that you’re also very eager to teach kids about nutrition and that this might be an opportunity to do both. Point out the small print that they don’t need to buy anything to enter the Sweepstakes.

    But beyond that I think you may have parsed the small print contract incorrectly. There’s a distinction made between the “Offer” (the 20 UPCs= 20 books) and the “Sweepstakes” (the chance to win hundreds of books). This is likely because it is illegal to require people to buy something to enter a contest and a mailed in entry form is always provided. I think the twenty slips of paper only get you the chance to win books, they don’t mean you’ll definitely get free books sent to you. And you can only send in twenty slips of paper per envelope. However there’s nothing stopping you from sending in hundreds of envelopes full of slips of paper, which you could easily print on your printer. So have a party cutting out paper 3″ x 5″ cards and stuffing envelopes and have the kids eat oranges while they do ;).

    Or you could try that book drive idea :)

  10. Stevo permalink
    September 15, 2010 3:24 pm

    I’d love to see the rejected note. Pretty please.

  11. September 15, 2010 4:12 pm

    Daniel, have you thought of setting up a food education event at the school? Or maybe field trips to some of the purveyors and chefs with whom you are friends? It sounds like there’s a gap between education and nutrition that you might just be the right man to fill.

  12. September 15, 2010 9:06 pm

    Question: What kind of book might the Sunny D people be likely to provide free? Like maybe an advertisement for their stuff dressed up as a story? Are you SURE you want to get those books for the kids? I got a feeling that not everything with words on it is worth reading.

  13. Sarah M. permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:50 pm

    If Sunny D is that bad, god knows what’s in “purple stuff”!

  14. September 15, 2010 10:24 pm

    I really want to see the note.

  15. September 16, 2010 12:25 am

    just a thought: it may not be coming from “the teacher,” it might be some kind of promotion the school is pushing (i.e. everyone in the school gets a flier sent home, or what have you). i have to send things home to my students at least once a week that i believe to be utter rubbish, but i don’t really have a choice in the matter.

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