Crunchberries on Trial

A California woman's lawsuit over the existence of Cap'n Crunch's "crunchberries" might be ridiculous, but she's not the only one confused about her food.

On the front of the cereal box, a joyful Cap'n Crunch thrusts red, purple, and teal balls of crunchberries towards customers. The cartoonist Jay Ward, of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, created the original Cap'n and his crew for Quaker Oats before the company ever started production on its crunchy corn-based cereal in the 1960s, unlike most breakfast cereals, which are created in the lab before they're ever branded with a cartoon character. As breakfast cereals have come to symbolize food industry artifice, Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries, in particular, represents a "cheeky postmodern quotation" in the history of cereal development, writes Catharine Weese, a graphic designer at the American Museum of Natural History, in the current issue of Gastrononica. It is a breakfast cereal pretending to be a breakfast cereal.But one California woman claims to have been misled by those ultra-fake berries in the "Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries" advertisement. Janine Sugawara sued PepsiCo, the makers of Quaker Oats and Cap'n Crunch, for $5 billion for fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of warranty. She said that the fictitious name (crunchberries) implied a nutritious content (real strawberries) that is contradicted by the actual contents (strawberry extract is 12th on the ingredient list).A court dismissed the case in late May, concluding that no "reasonable consumer" would be deceived into thinking the cereal actually contained the fictional fruit, according according to the legal blog Lowering the Bar. The court said that, should the case proceed, they would have to "ignore all concepts of personal responsibility and common sense." In an update, Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar's author, says: "[Sugawara] is an entirely normal person who knew perfectly well that there are no ‘crunchberries,' and probably knew that ‘Cap'n Crunch' is not a fruit-laden cereal."Still, commentators were quick to question Sugawara's intelligence. Duh, a cartoon tiger doesn't mean the box contains an actual tiger. That's something that doesn't even require fine print. One Times Online blogger compared the frivolous case to a judge's dismissal of a 1994 suit in which a Michigan man took the advertising fantasies created by Budweiser-depicting "tropical settings, beautiful women and men engaged in endless and unrestricted merriment"-too literally.

But these points about advertising being undeniably fake might be lost on some kids. One 2005 study points out that children were persuaded by the suggestive terms "fruit" or "berry" that tend to conjure up the real thing even in cereals that contained neither fruit nor berries. Sugawara's lawyer, Harold Hewell, successfully challenged Gerber Products Co. for depicting apples and oranges on Fruit Juice Snacks suggesting (falsely) that the sugary drink contained those fruits-something that had been on the litigation agenda of the food watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest.There's a lot of confusing food advertising out there. Just because the box shows a strawberry, no one really expects to find one in a box of shredded wheat. Similarly, it's unclear if anyone should believe some of the nutrition claims. As one decision from the Federal Trade Commission's statement on food labeling says, "advertising claims about foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup [that] did not contain sugar and were accepted by the American Diabetes Association implied (falsely) that the foods were appropriate for people who needed to avoid sugar." In other words, they lied.It's hard to pick out a box that doesn't have some dubious-sounding claim, and there's long history of this form of advertising. As Barry Newman points out in the Wall Street Journal, early Grape Nuts cereal ads "claimed it prevented malaria and appendicitis. It doesn't." The cereal's founder, C.W. Post, died of an apparent suicide shortly after suffering from appendicitis.Misleading advertising is ingrained in our food culture. Consumers seem to be rarely, if ever, presented with clear, concise information about a food's origin. But the extreme presented in Sugawara's case (how could any regular supermarket shopper be so gullible?) raises a larger, more legitimate question about labeling claims that imply a positive effect without any explicit data. Crunchberries may or may not lead a "reasonable consumer" to a never-never land of nonexistent fruit species, but manufacturers continually use the same advertising space to make claims about food safety, health, or nutrition-and expect these front-of-the-cereal-box claims to be taken seriously.Within the simulacra of the cereal aisle, there's a fine line between what's credulous, irrational, or just plain silly. Let's hope one seemingly absurd claim about a sea captain's fruit does not undermine legitimate challenges to products falsely claiming to be healthy, "all-natural," or "organic."
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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