Half and Half: Just what is it, anyway?

Money for Nuthin'

by Rich Finzer

Nope, I'm not referring to that classic tune by Dire Straits, rather I'm calling attention to one of the greatest marketing ploys of all time. This particular voyage of discovery occurred during a recent visit to my neighborhood grocery to buy some good old regular half and half, the best buddy a cup of coffee ever had. As I reached into the dairy case to grab a quart, my eyes were immediately drawn to several varieties of "fat free" half and half. One brand, which featured a young female Native American princess on the container, even touted itself as "gourmet" fat free half and half. If you're getting a bit confused at this point, don't worry as I was confused, too. So I figured I'd engage in a little research on the subject.

After Googling on the phrase "Half N' Half," I eventually found a web site at www.recipezaar.com that listed the commonly accepted definition of just what constitutes half and half. According to those folks, the stuff is a 50-50 mixture of whole milk and cream with a butter fat content between 10-12%. So any product that tries to pass itself off as "fat free" half and half is the equivalent of advertising the Mojave Desert as the world's largest ocean-free beach! There just isn't such thing. The best part was that the fat free stuff was priced $.50 more per quart than genuine half and half, which was going for $3.29. Incredible.

Translation: fat free half and half is nothing but skim milk. If you do the math, it means a gallon of the stuff was selling for over $14! And you thought a gallon of gasoline was expensive when it broke through the $4 barrier. Admittedly, calling the stuff "gourmet skim milk" just wouldn't have the same kind of sizzle. So pay attention when shopping for dairy products. We all know that you can't get something for nothing, but crafty marketing and creative labeling now make it possible, as the boys in the band would say, to spend "Money for Nuthin."

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