I signed up for Empire’s online tracking as part of my insurance plan. They sent an e-mail the other day, and when I got around to opening it I was surprised to see a number of coupon offers on the home page. Click through, on the coupon tab, and there are pages and pages of coupons: For Huggies diaper wipes, 50 cents off; Disney or Marvel gummy vitamins, $1 off; Dole canned fruit, 75 cents off any two cans. Oh, and Yoplait: save 40 cents on six.
The coupon offer and the choices made me think: does Empire want me to use Truvia? It’s enthusiastic about Brew Over Ice K-cup packs. Similarly, Dole Banana Dippers or Newman’s Own Salad Dressing? I am a Paul Newman fan, but I prefer my own salad dressing, made at Mark Bittman’s suggestion, and you will too after you try these recipes of his.
I’m not much of a coupon user myself, because I seldom see coupons on kale, blueberries, chickpeas, miso, olive oil and other staples of daily life. I cook a lot from scratch, and I can’t remember the last time I bought canned fruit. Truvia and Banana Dippers, never, and K-cup packs also never. Yoplait, no; Huggies, not for a long time.
When we see something puzzling, we always try to track the money. Is Yoplait paying Empire for distribution? It seems likely. Is this a big moneymaker? We’ll ask around.
Meanwhile perhaps the biggest question I had was about the coupon for Yoplait, a product that has come under extensive criticism for high sugar content. “People are often fooled by the healthy aura of a food, like yogurt. Yoplait, which has trumped the market in recent years, is really dessert. Yoplait French Vanilla has 26 grams of sugar, twice as much as a serving of Lucky Charms,” writes Jane Brody at The New York Times.
Empire, really? We all have an obligation to fight the rising tide of obesity and diabetes. You especially. You could help: How about a coupon for kale?
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.