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Dec 09 2010

Coats in the overhead bin

December 9, 2010 – I haven’t flown with United Airlines in quite a while, but this week I had the opportunity to do so for an overnight business trip out to Chicago. The flight out from LGA was great, in fact it arrived 30 minutes early and the middle seat was empty. I am thinking wow, this wasn’t so bad. Well heading home is a whole different story.

I am actually typing this while I am in flight and my blood is back to a simmer from the boil that it was right before takeoff. Here is the situation. I am sitting in row 19C. There are 26 rows on the plane so I am thinking OK I am toward the back, so at least I will get to board first and insure that my carry-on luggage will have no issues finding overhead space.

I arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of time. When I get to the gate there are about 27 empty seats according to a screen at the gate. My boarding number is 4. FOUR? What is up with that? I am at the back of the plane and I and the 4th group to board. That doesn’t seem right, well, no worries yet. As I am on the gateway, I am hearing announcement that no coats should go in the overhead bins to make room for roller bags. This seems fair, however as I approach the door to the plane I am told, sorry no more room, you will have to gate check your bag. I wasn’t happy, but OK, no more room, means no more room.

To my dismay, I get on board and notice a bunch of overheads stuffed with coats. THAT DOES IT. How rude that I have to check my bag because I was one of the last to board and a bunch of inconsiderate passengers have already filled the overhead bins not with luggage, but with coats. I couldn’t just sit here watching others stuffing their coats overhead while I not only have my coat on my lap, but my bag now needs to be picked up at the baggage claim. This will end up getting me home at least 30 minutes later than planned.

I decided to say something to the flight attendant. “Excuse me”, I say. “I thought the rule was no coats in the overhead bins until after all luggage has been brought on board”. She replies, “We can make the request, but we can’t force passengers not to put their coats in the bins”. Really I say, because I wasn’t allowed to bring my bag on board because I was told there was no room and clearly there is because coats are not supposed to go up there unless there is room”. She replies “it’s not my job to make people considerate”. Well, I am ready to boil and I tell her I am going to write a letter to United that first it’s ridiculous that the back of the plane doesn’t board first and second, if it’s not her job to insure passengers are complying with the rules, then whose job is it? She should have the authority to dump every coat out of the overhead bin until all bags are on board. She can make passengers buckle their seats, put their seat backs and tray tables up, but she can’t keep them from complying with no coats in the overhead bin? I find this preposterous.
Well here is the real kicker. The middle seats next to me and behind me are all empty, so who is taking up all the overhead space when the flight isn’t full. My coat got its own seat, which I would have gladly shared with other coats if only I could have been allowed to bring my bag on board.

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Dec 05 2010

SUBWAY® – EAT FRESH

Published by CPGgal under Food,QSR's

The holidays are upon us and yesterday my husband and I stopped for a quick lunch at Subway®. Trying to watch my food intake this holiday season I decided to go for the “healthy” menu. But what exactly does that mean? I ordered just a six inch vegetable sandwich with cheese. Even the Biggest Loser® touts the wonders of Subway and how healthy their sandwiches are if you order the right ones. Well thank goodness I decided to forego the “oil dressing”. As we were sitting down to eat, their napkins contain all of the calories for their Subway Fresh Fit™ menu. I had made a smart decision on my sandwich choice. Veggie Delite® 230 calories, Fat(g) 2.5. Cheese triangles (2) 40 calories Fat(g) 3.5. So my total calorie and fat intake was 270 calories and 6g fat. Not so bad. But what shocked me on the menu is that one tsp of Olive Oil blend would have added another 45 calories and a whopping extra 5 grams of fat. Had I just wanted to add that one tablespoon of Olive Oil blend I would have increased my calories by 17% and my fat grams would have increased by a whopping 83%!

To make the  Subway® eater feel better about their choices, their napkins also contain the calories and fat grams for the Big Mac® and Whopper®. I can honestly say I never would have thought that the Whopper® was worse for you than a Big Mac® , I mean the Whopper is flamed broiled, but here are the facts according to my napkin which is then sources from the respective company’s nutrition facts:

Whopper® 670 calories and 40 gm of fat
Big Mac® 540 calories and 20 gm of fat

This will keep me away from my maybe 2-3 times a year Whopper Jr. ® that I will sometimes eat. I mean really 40 grams of fat in just one burger? The Nutrition Facts guidelines tell us that if you are trying to maintain a 2000 calorie diet, that your total fat for one day should be 65g or less. 62% of your daily fat intake would be used up on just the Whopper® and you know you want fries with that. So Subway® Veggie Delite® sans Oil Blend will be my fast food of choice. I can eat 7 of those in one day and still leave room for a 100 calories snack.  :)

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Aug 05 2010

I LOVE ICE CREAM

Published by CPGgal under Food


August 2010 – It’s summer time and I must share, I LOVE ice cream. But did you ever wonder what kind of an ice cream lover you may be? I mean there are two kinds of ice cream lovers, those who love stuff in their ice cream and those who are purist. I have always been a stuff kind of person, with Chocolate Chocolate Chip Frusen Glädjé being my favorite in the early 80’s. Did you ever wonder what happened to that brand? I did, so I looked it up on Wiki and it turns out Kraft General Food purchased the brand from the founder and once Kraft sold off Breyers to Unilever, it just disappeared. Very sad to hear, as that ice cream rocked!!!

Well my ice cream endeavors continued into my work life. I started working at Friendly’s in the mid-80’s, and continued in the early 90’s selling ice cream while I was a food broker and represented Borden’s Ice Cream and Tofutti, and it certainly continued into the mid to late 90’s while I was a marketing associate at Dean Foods. Dean’s is where I got to listen to consumers talk about ice cream in focus groups. What a great topic to discuss. Well there it was clear there are two different types of ice cream eaters. The “stuff” folks, like me, gravitate toward Ben & Jerry’s, and other brands with flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Moose Tracks and Fudge Brownie. My husband on the other hand is more of a purist. He enjoys Haagen Daz and other brands because they are cool and smooth, and there is no stuff in it. Strawberry, Raspberry Swirl and Vanilla Fudge Twirl are the flavors he enjoys best. Is this because some people prefer to chew their ice cream where others prefer to just let it melt down their throats. Or is it that chewing ice cream just seems foreign to them, I wonder?

Well the point of this blog is that I usually try to buy flavors we both enjoy, however, when I get to buy “my stuff”, it is all mine, and currently it is the light recipe version of Turkey Hill Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. YUM, it does make me smile. :D

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Jul 17 2010

Ice Cream

Published by CPGgal under Food

July 2010 – The most recent change I noticed is Haagen Dazs® ice cream.  What used to be a pint (16oz) has now been downsized to 14oz.  This is both a good and bad thing.  Good because know if you eat the whole pint in one sitting you are actually consuming ½ a serving less (The full pint = 4 servings or 4oz per serving), bad because with the price staying the same you are now paying a whole lot more for your Super Premium ice cream.  This downsizing of the pint is not too much of a surprise, because if you haven’t noticed, a half gallon of ice cream is no longer a real half gallon, it is now 1.5 quarts.  Your 32 oz of ice cream container, like the pint, was downsized to 24oz.  That is ½ a quart less than the ice cream container my mom purchased when I was growing up.  Again, the prices are about the same, you are just now paying more for less.  It will be interesting to watch how long it will take Ben & Jerry’s® to follow Haagen Dazs®.  My guess is no more than 6 months.  Stay tuned.

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Jun 16 2010

Seattle’s Best

Published by CPGgal under Food,QSR's,Restaurants

June, 2010 – I just returned from a business trip to Seattle.  I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was a Starbucks on more than every corner, but what did surprise me is that my co-workers weren’t aware that Starbucks also owns the brand Seattle’s Best.  How many others are fooled by the brand?  When walking around Seattle it is hard to find a coffee shop that is not owned or supplied by Starbucks. For a city that is known for its coffee houses, it really does seem like a monopoly exists there.  Not sure if this bothers anyone else, but personally I do not like Starbucks coffee, it tastes burnt to me, so I was happy to have a cup of Tully’s.  Here is a company that is competing with Starbucks.  A real David and Goliath type of story.  Tully’s started in 1992 and has remained competitive in what many consider the coffee capital of the US.  They were purchased in 2008 by the Vermont Coffee Company, but continue to operate its division independently.

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Apr 25 2010

Toilet Paper

Published by CPGgal under Non Food

April, 2010 –  A roll is not a roll.  Unlike ice cream where there were once standards such as a pint, ½ gallon and gallon, in TP this has never been the case.  This was not something I even noticed until I started working at my current job selling the product, but did you ever really try to price comparison shop TP?  It is really difficult.  There are double rolls, Giant Rolls, Mega rolls and yet each manufacturer has their own unit of measurement (unless of course you are super smart and look at the legal line that shows linear feet per roll, but who really does that?)  Let’s take Charmin® for instance.  I have noticed over the past year or so that their regular roll has decreased the number of sheets per roll from 112 to 100 and now it’s a measly 88 sheets.  Come on now 88 sheets per roll?  Is that even going to last a day in your house?  Well have no fear because their double roll has 176 sheets while their mega roll is a whopping 352 sheets.  If you use Angel Soft, their double roll is 300 sheets, so make sure you compare the right things when buying your TP.

Quilted Northern®?  Has anyone noticed that not only they took sheets out of their rolls but they actually reduced the height of their roll?  Really a package of old QN is about ½ inch taller than their new packs.  Are consumers seeing this or are they just being played like the dumb consumer most marketers think they are?  If I weren’t in the industry I am not sure I would have noticed.  I guess when it comes to TP though, it is a MUST have item, so no matter what the manufacturers do, consumers will buy the product.  Just another example how CPG manufactures try to keep the price per package the same while actually charging you, the consumer, a whole lot more for it.

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