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Protein water: everything that’s wrong with us.

June 27, 2008

The commercial opens with this light, somewhat christmas-y music. A mound of brightly colored hard candies glisten in a store window while a worker pours another scoop on the pile. A woman stands in front of this display, eyes alight with anticipation. But don’t worry! the voice over assures us. She will not give in. She pulls a bottle of K20 protein water out of her bag. Crisis averted!


First let’s talk a little bit about the ad. The actress in the commercial is Marisa Ramirez. Here’s a picture:

You know, I don’t think anyone needs to avoid candy if they want some, but are we really supposed to think that one sip of whey water is what stands between this woman and total loss of control and eventual candy binge? If not for the bottle in her purse, would she break through the window and start inhaling candy, wrapper and all?

Or are we going with the assumption that a few pieces of candy are enough to turn this slim woman into a headless fatty?

And hard candy? This is the big bogeyman which will destroy your self control?

Let’s do a little number crunching, shall we. A bottle of K20 has 50 calories and 8g of sugar (and only 5g of protein!.) A single butterscotch has about 23 calories and 3g of sugar. And neither of them have any fat to speak of, so which nutritional bugaboo are we exploiting here? I mean, kellogg sells a ton of those obnoxious 100 calorie snack packs. Should you drink the whey water instead of eating those? Somehow I doubt it.

Really I just can’t get over the fact that we live in a society where protein water is a viable product because people are so afraid of actual food. Where ads featuring thin women who are afraid of hard candies actually make sense to a lot of people.

  1. Vidya permalink
    June 27, 2008 3:44 pm

    Eww. (And full of bovine glandular secretion, too.) Weird, weird, weird.
    I’ll make a point of laughing at anyone I see drinking it. :-p

  2. Catgal permalink
    June 27, 2008 3:56 pm

    Oh thank you for writing this. That is the single worst commercial on the air right now! I thought the same things as you did… HARD CANDY!!! Give me a break!

  3. cowsharky permalink
    June 27, 2008 4:23 pm

    It’s scientifically impossible to binge on hard candy. You take one bite, it dislodges a filling and/or breaks a tooth, and you remember why you don’t eat hard candy anymore. Binge impossible.

  4. Cyn permalink
    June 27, 2008 4:27 pm

    That’s one of the most ridiculous commercials I’ve ever seen. I remember when they first started promoting the product, the ads made sense and were actually compelling: the idea was that toward the end of the work day you could actually use a little protein and hydration to help you make it through.

  5. Kathryn permalink
    June 27, 2008 7:32 pm

    I HATE THAT COMMERCIAL SO MUCH! (And shame on you, Lauren Graham, for doing the voiceover for it! What would Lorelai Gilmore say?) Also offensive: the Special K commercial demonizing taking ONE LICK of frosting from a mixing bowl.

  6. pennylane permalink
    June 27, 2008 7:47 pm

    Thank you! This stuff has been my hobby horse because it looks GROSS and is hardly a nutritional giant. And, really, 5 grams of protein? I drink a lot of protein shakes because I weight train and this stuff is a really lame gimmick.

    Yeah, drinking water with bovine secretions will really stop me from eating real food.

  7. ZaftigWendy permalink
    June 27, 2008 9:54 pm

    They don’t show what happens 30 seconds later, when she realizes that the damn water tastes like crap and is completely non-satisfying and decides to go back and buy some candy. She sticks one in her mouth and sucks on it all the way home, and feels so happy that she dumps her loser image-obsessed boyfriend and signs up for the knitting class that she’s been wanting to take for years.

  8. Godless Heathen permalink
    June 27, 2008 11:16 pm

    For me it’s not one butterscotch, it’s usually about 3. 3 tiny pieces of actual food would be ZOMG out of control! in the view of the diet food industry. I agree, it’s completely impossible to binge on them. You chew one and it gums up into one of your fillings, and you know if you go to pick it out you’ll get the filling too, so you spend an hour licking at your tooth trying to dislodge it.

    I’m a big fan of actual water, but “protein water” just doesn’t sound appealing. How did this product name make it past the focus groups?

  9. emmy permalink
    June 30, 2008 7:11 pm

    This is not to mention that I know I, personally, can slug a bottle of flavored water in about 1 minute flat, while a hard candy is good for at least ten. So, for the same number of calories, you can have about 20 minutes of tasty, as opposed to 1-5 minutes of barely adequate. (If you’re still bothering to count, of course) I’ll take the candy, please.

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