Step Aside, High Fructose Corn Syrup: 6 Name-Changing Foods


Japanese manufacturing giant Ajinomoto bought the aspartame business from Monsanto and in November 2009, announced it was giving the product a new name: AminoSweet. That name was chosen to reflect the product's composition: It's made from the amino acid phenylalanine and aspartic acid. One longtime caution that appears on the label of every product containing aspartame notes that people who born with a genetic inability to break down phenylalanine, called phenylketonuria, must avoid it.

Of the change, Brownell said: "I don't know the impetus for this one ... They've been losing market share because of sucralose [Splenda] being out.

"They may want to give their product a health aura. It sounds science-y."

Goodbye, Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed Oil; Hello, Canola Oil

This light vegetable oil comes from the rapeseed plant, which, for centuries, has provided oil for cooking and heating around the world. In World War II, it even saw use as an important lubricant for ships.

Unfortunately, it has a few unpleasant associations that detract from its appeal.

First, it comes from a plant in the mustard family called the rape plant -- a name with obvious negative connotations.

Second, unrefined rapeseed oil, when heated to high temperatures, has been associated with lung cancer, so cooks are urged to lower frying temperatures when using it.

Finally, the unrefined oil contains 30 percent to 60 percent erucic acid, which has been linked to heart lesions in lab animals.

In the 1970s, Canadian scientists began cross-breeding plants, replacing erucic acid with oleic acid to create a low-erucic acid product. The Canadian seed oil industry dubbed the new product "canola" in 1978 because it was a Canadian oil, and in 1986 it hit the U.S. market.

Despite misperceptions that it's dangerous to human health, canola has more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat than most oils -- olive oil being a notable exception -- and has lower saturated fats than other oils.

Goodbye, Prunes; Hello Dried Plums

Although the prune has long been a staple of European cuisine -- think of roasted duck with prunes or pork roast stuffed with prunes -- it just hasn't gotten any respect in the United States, where it was born in 1850. That's when a Frenchman, Louis Pellier, began experimenting with grafting the D'Agen plum onto wild plum trees, which produced the fruit that in 1932 began to be tenderized and packaged as moist, ready-to-eat prunes.

But over the years, prunes became associated in the popular imagination with aging. We talk about having skin "as wrinkled as a prune." Also, because prunes are extremely high in fiber, older folks drink prune juice or eat a handful of prunes to relieve constipation.

After some market research, the California Prune Board gave the prune a name makeover. It restored to the prune the identity of the fruit from which it originated, the plum. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration granted the board permission to use the term "dried plums" for prunes.

Also, the board began calling itself the California Dried Plum Board.

Goodbye, Patagonian Toothfish; Hello, Chilean Sea Bass

"Financial incentives are the strongest motivation to rename fish with more appetizing titles," wrote Jennifer Jacquet and a colleague from The Sea Around Us Project at the University of British Columbia in a 2008 article in the journal Marine Policy.

There are perhaps few more appropriate examples of this principle than the Patagonian toothfish.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...