15 October 2005
Fat Free Water
Late one Friday evening a few weeks ago, some friends and I stopped at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store downtown. When I bought a bottle of water to wash down my double espresso, I noticed something peculiar: this wasn't just ordinary water -- this was Fat Free Water. I couldn't believe it. I mean, it's one thing to put a "fat free" label on, say, a bag of Olestra-saturated potato chips or something like that. But on a bottle of water? After we took photos to document it, we thought it would be funny to call up the toll free information line mentioned on the bottle and ask about their fat extraction process. So I did.
A labrynthine automated telephone customer service system eventually sent me to voice mail, it being after business hours and all. I left a message explaining that I'd just bought a bottle of fat free water and was curious about how it's made. "How exactly do you extract the fat from the water?" I asked. I left my name and number, hung up, chuckled, and promptly pretty much forgot about the whole thing.
But then a couple of days ago I got a call from an area code I didn't recognize, and, wouldn't you know it, it was a customer service representative from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, responding to my inquiry about the fat extraction process used to produce Fat Free Water. I almost couldn't keep it together while listening to this woman explain that they don't actually remove any fat from the water since, in fact, water is naturally fat free. The "Fat Free" label on the bottle, she said, is just a kitchsy marketing tactic.
Wow. This is marketing at its worst. Not only are they presenting a product deceptively, they're also bold enough to claim that it's just a joke! Come on, guys. You're not being ironic. You just want to sell a bunch of water to the ignorant and body-image-crazed.
Still, the whole thing is pretty hilarious. Well, at least to me: "Laugh all you like," says some guy in a forum discussing this exact topic, "but since I switched to fat-free water the weight has just slipped right off."
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