Fat Free Water

15 October 2005

Late one Friday evening a few weeks ago, some friends and I stopped at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store downtown. When I bought a bottle of water to wash down my double espresso, I noticed something peculiar: this wasn't just ordinary water -- this was Fat Free Water. I couldn't believe it. I mean, it's one thing to put a "fat free" label on, say, a bag of Olestra-saturated potato chips or something like that. But on a bottle of water? After we took photos to document it, we thought it would be funny to call up the toll free information line mentioned on the bottle and ask about their fat extraction process. So I did.

A labrynthine automated telephone customer service system eventually sent me to voice mail, it being after business hours and all. I left a message explaining that I'd just bought a bottle of fat free water and was curious about how it's made. "How exactly do you extract the fat from the water?" I asked. I left my name and number, hung up, chuckled, and promptly pretty much forgot about the whole thing.

But then a couple of days ago I got a call from an area code I didn't recognize, and, wouldn't you know it, it was a customer service representative from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, responding to my inquiry about the fat extraction process used to produce Fat Free Water. I almost couldn't keep it together while listening to this woman explain that they don't actually remove any fat from the water since, in fact, water is naturally fat free. The "Fat Free" label on the bottle, she said, is just a kitchsy marketing tactic.

No! Really?

Wow. This is marketing at its worst. Not only are they presenting a product deceptively, they're also bold enough to claim that it's just a joke! Come on, guys. You're not being ironic. You just want to sell a bunch of water to the ignorant and body-image-crazed.

Still, the whole thing is pretty hilarious. Well, at least to me: "Laugh all you like," says some guy in a forum discussing this exact topic, "but since I switched to fat-free water the weight has just slipped right off."

Posted by Greg at 02:30 PM.

On 16 October 2005 at 01:20 PM, Adrian commented:

Hmmm. Our brains are 60% fat, so this isn't exactly brain food, eh? Makes you wonder what's inside the Smart Water though.

On 24 October 2005 at 10:10 PM, Frazier commented:

Did the support person actually use the word Kitsch?!? Please say she did. PLEEEEEEEASE.

On 24 October 2005 at 10:22 PM, Greg Veen commented:

"Kitsch?" Yep, she really did.

On 5 November 2005 at 02:04 PM, Jeremy Broersma commented:

Hey Greg,
Great job on the articles! I hope to hear from you soon.
-an old friend now in the U.S.A.F

On 9 December 2005 at 07:31 PM, Meier....John Meier commented:

kinda like a bag of sugar being a "fat free food"

On 27 December 2005 at 09:57 AM, djw commented:

She has *no idea* what "kitsch" actually means.

On 3 January 2006 at 09:22 AM, Ed Kohler commented:

I don't mind that type of pitch when it's done more authentically. Something like, "Fat free, as always" isn't bad for say, salsa. However, it still seems over the top to use the term on water.

It would be funny if they covered the bottle with every "_____ free" feature of water. That could be both authentic, and a fun marketing angle.

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