Semiotic Analysis Of Heinz Gluten Free Pasta

1651 words - 7 pages

Ivana LovricProf. John ReedMIT 3932FDecember 1 2014MIT 3932 ASSIGNEMENT #3: PACKAGING It would most likely require the average person to live under a rock with no access to Internet, TV, grocery stores or advertisements to not be, at the very least, aware of the current gluten free diet fad. While the trend was not created by industrial food manufactures, they have certainly done their part to respond to and perpetuate consumer wants for gluten free foods. The main reason for this is, of course, profit. This essay will examine the gluten free trend through the packaging of Heinz gluten free pasta. It will focus on the importance of color, labeling and ultimately what buying the product says about the consumer.Prior to examining Heinz specifically, it is beneficial to explain why the gluten free fad is indeed a fad. First of all, what is gluten and why has it been demonized? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For people who have celiac disease, which is about 1 in 133 Americans or 3 million Americans in total, consuming gluten triggers a serious autoimmune response in the digestive system (TIME Magazine). Today, however, a study done by market research firm NDP Group found that 29% of Americans are trying to avoid gluten (TIME Magazine). This percentage vastly exceeds the percentage of people who have celiac disease, thus suggesting that many consumers are avoiding gluten simply because it's trendy to do so. Avoiding certain ingredients is not a new phenomenon; it goes in circles. For example, in the 1970s people avoided sugar. This was followed by fat, then saturated fat, which was later followed by the reintroduction of fat and removal of carbs (TIME Magazine). Gluten is simply next in this line.The trendiness of going gluten free is exemplified by the fact that most people do not even know what gluten is or what its health effects are. While it is not by any means an academic survey or experiment, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel did a feature on his late night talk show called "Pedestrian Question - What is Gluten?" that perfectly illustrates the trendiness. In the video, an interviewer goes up to people who are exercising and asks them if they maintain a gluten free diet and if they know what gluten is. The majority of people interviewed said that they do not eat gluten but struggled to come up with an answer when asked what exactly it is. The video shows that many people are simply buying into the gluten free fad without actual knowledge about it. According to Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, "most people must be doing this because they think they feel better, or they do feel better but they're not diagnosed with gluten issues. People who have had bad reactions to common gluten-containing foods may actually just be sensitive to something else" (TIME Magazine).Again, according to Balzer, the gluten free craze is an "evolution and an expansion of the low-carb trend" (TIME Magazine). The gluten issue has been...

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