Saturday, March 06, 2010

When a Brand Turns Bad: Nature Valley® in the Candy Biz.

Attention brand-foodies. General Mills is sampling (and couponing) its Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Granola Bar. Since the sample and 75¢-off manufacturer’s coupon came with the morning paper, it caught my attention. The Nature Valley line is a long one with lots and lots of “wholesome and delicious” product line extensions. Says so right on the website.

Never had this particular granola bar before. But you know, it looks like a rip-off of the PAYDAY Peanut Caramel Bar, now a part of the Hershey’s® line-up. I am an unabashed partisan of PAYDAY candy. Have been since the 50s, as far as I can recall. That’d put my introduction about 20 years and a complete World War after Frank Martoccio produced the candy – he went on to found Hollywood Brands, which also manufactured and sold the great ZERO candy bar. Liquor may be quicker but when you’re a kid, candy is just dandy.

I don’t know how much Hershey’s spends on PAYDAY advertising. I do know that the General spends plenty on Nature Valley, which is today synonymous with granola, all-natural ingredients and healthy eating habits.

Except when it’s candy, too. Which this particular product from Nature Valley is. Just like PAYDAY. Honest. I compared the labels. I adjusted for the fact that the Sweet and Salty Nut Granola Bar sample is 1.2 ounces and a standard PAYDAY is 1.5 ounces. Considering the serving size difference, the Nature Valley product has more calories than the PAYDAY, slightly more total fat and 2.5 grams more saturated fat. Its sodium level is higher than a PAYDAY; it does have 3 grams less sugars, but also less protein.

Candy bar. Candy bar. Candy bar. The same or candier than PAYDAY, which straightforwardly claims “sweet caramel and tons of salty peanuts.”

These Nature Valley bars average about 50¢ each online, while PAYDAY’s running between 63¢ and 71¢. With the coupons (75¢ in the sampler, $1 online), you could do better money-wise with the supposedly “perfect heart-healthy” treat. And, given brand loyalty, maintain your right-thinking relationship with this granola-bar line at the same time.

It is just a candy bar. But a candy bar by any other name still tastes as sweet, no matter how you advertise it. Now, which brand is the most honest advertiser?


Rachel said...

The fact that a "wholesome" brand is even offering a product with the word "salty" in the title is unsettling enough ...

Carole Marmell said...

"Wow! Very astute. I had no idea, just tossed it in with the Simple Harvest bars."

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks for the comments - it's one thing to honestly extend the brand, I think; quite another to trick people.

Nature Value could have done something along the lines, "Introducing the world's first HEALTHY candy bar," for example. It wouldn't be 100% accurate but would take the curse off the deal.

Anonymous said...


You are right on. Pay Day is a tried and true candy bar. Just tonight I tried the NATURE VALLEY "Sweet & Salty Nut" Taste like they copied PayDay. What chaps me most is the Nature Valley
candy is packaged in a 5-1/2" long box and inside the candies are enclosed in a 5-1/2" wapper, however the Nature Valley candy inside is only 3-1/2" long. Short 2inches. What deception and rip off. I'll never buy another item made by Nature Valley