Muncha-buncha, where'd I get my lunch?

In the late 70s/early 80s, Fritos Corn Chips had a TV jingle that went, "Muncha buncha, muncha buncha, muncha buncha, muncha buncha, Fritos goes with lunch."

I remember it clearly. But I don't ever remember wondering where my Fritos came from. Or where the individual ingredients came from. Or the bag. Or the glue to seal the bag, the ink to print it, the air to fill it.... As a kid, I guess I thought Fritos just were. The concepts of ingredients and origin and buying locally were entirely unknown to me.

I'm growing up, however, and simultaneously growing in awareness. Two items are responsible for this awareness:
1) I'm on the slow climb toward 40 and recognize the implications of food on my heart and overall health, and
2) At some point in the last ten years, I learned about the very clear mandate in the Bible to cultivate the earth and take care of it (Genesis 2:15).

Now, I'm not a primary caretaker or steward of Fritos because I don't work there and I don't farm their corn. But I do have a responsibility to care about how Ingredients are used in the world, and my interest in advertising leads to a few comments about this magazine ad.

First, I like the concept. Whether you like Fritos, Cheetos or Tostitos (or none of these), the company behind these products is striving to decrease its environmental footprint, and that's commendable. Second, I like the ad. It's quite simple and it could work without any of the copy.

My only critique is that it lets me off the responsibility hook a bit. With the message about being "locally" grown (within the U.S., at least) and the suggestion that Fritos Corn Chips basically come straight from the field, I'm tempted to say, "Oh good, Frito Lay is taking care of their part of the world. They're being responsible for consumers' health and the economy and the environment, at least as far as corn chips are concerned. I don't have to worry about Frito Lay's stewardship or lack thereof."

But certainly there's more to the process of making chips, and of packaging and branding and marketing chips, and of shipping chips to every corner of the U.S. These realities raise a few questions:

1. This ad message may be quite a sell for the environmentally concerned consumer/caretaker, but what issues might other consumers/caretakers need to address?

2. Is there a point at which a consumer/caretaker can say, "I just don't have the capacity to research any more. I'll just trust that Frito Lay [insert any brand here] is in line with my convictions"?

3. If a brand satisfies at least one big criterion for you (e.g. "locally grown"), is it OK to compromise on other points?


Anonymous,  June 26, 2008 at 11:24 PM  

Interesting questions, and ones we definitely should think through with any advertising. I remember as a small child, my father sitting with me during commercials and having me define what they were really trying to sell me, aside from the product itself. I find it easy to glaze over advertising these days, and appreciate the reminder to be more thoughtful.

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