Friday, October 21, 2011
He's a Pepper, She's Not a Pepper
My tireless quest to point out examples of grievous food related gender discrimination turns today to the recently released new variation of Dr. Pepper: Dr. Pepper Ten, which is controversially marketed exclusively to men.
The position and marketing of Dr. Pepper Ten is the obvious parallel to my previous criticism about how Special K cereal is positioned and marketed heavily towards women. Both instances demonstrate the ignorance and ridiculousness of trying to apply gender specific labels to something as neutral as food (which we call know is clearly based on class distinctions). Dr. Pepper Ten is even more flagrant than Special K since it unambiguously states in their marketing, as driven home by their supposedly hyper masculine national commercial (so the ultimate guy movie is some sort of low budget mash up of GI Joe and Congo?), that their product is "Not For Women".
Now I know a lot of this is exaggerated as satire and to generate some buzz about the drink, but I would be less offended by the campaign if it wasn't so completely based on the outdated and reductive idea that men associate anything low calorie or healthy in general with femininity. It was my main issue with Special K; just because it happened to be marginally healthier than a box of Captain Crunch or Coco Puffs, it gradually morphed into this jean size dropping, body shape loving, breast cancer ribbon laden, monstrosity that was about as guy friendly as a box of tampons.
Now I know Dr Pepper must have done its market research homework for Ten but are we still at that point in this country where diet sodas are still a turn off for guys? I've long since become a regular diet drinker and with all the public knowledge about how fattening soda is and the supposed horrors of high fructose corn syrup (with some dissenting opinions by the corn lobby) I'd think both men and women in larger numbers would be looking to cut down on the calories (I mean, diet soda has its obvious share of problems and ideally we should just cut back on the soda all together, but I know I'm not made of stone). Does adding 10 calories worth of flavor really turn good old regular Diet Dr. Pepper into canned liquid testosterone (although I know some Pepper drinkers out there that would consider it blasphemy, I think Diet Dr. Pepper is one of the more faithful diet soda variations of the real stuff on the market, so I find any gains in flavor to be marginal)?
Hopefully in time all this silly sexist soda nonsense will pass, Dr. Pepper Ten will end up joining the rest of its not quite diet peers, Pepsi One, Pepsi Max, and Coke Zero, in comfortable soft drink semi-obscurity, and the company can go back to addressing more pressing issues: mainly bringing back Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper (or D.C.V.D.P. as us fans call it). As David Naughton so eloquently expressed in the old commercial, in the end we are all Peppers.