Today's post recalls my 2009 post, "Frozen Yogurt FAIL: What a Bad Consumer Experience Taught Me about Retaining Members in the Church.' That same year I encountered another "frozen yogurt fail" that I've been meaning to share. Now that I'm in Shanghai, on hot days (as in most days) my thoughts more frequently turn to the abundant frozen yogurt here in the land of mostly melamine-free milk and honey. By the way, I'm pleasantly surprised at how much milk and yogurt there is in this allegedly lactose intolerant nation, and hope that lactose and religion will continue to advance on the toleration front.

So here's the "FAIL" part of the story. Edy's Ice Cream had a lovely full-page ad in Better Homes and Gardens in 2009 (I believe it was June 2009 - that's when I took the photos). The ad touted the advantages of Edy's frozen yogurt over regular refrigerated yogurt:
Put away your regular, old plastic-cup yogurt. Yogurt Blends has 46% less sugar and 34% fewer calories* than refrigerated low-fat yogurt....
Wow, frozen yogurt has 34% fewer calories? What amazing technology did the food scientists at Nestle invent to do that? Mmmm, the invention wasn't by the scientists--it's an invention of marketing. Look at the fine print in the hard-to-see side of the ad. If you don't flatten the magazine out, you wouldn't even see the footnote:
14 g sugar and 107 calories per 4 fl oz serving as compared to 26 g sugar and 162 calories per 6 ounce serving of low-fat yogurt.
Whoa, mama! You mean you're comparing 4 ounces of your product to 6 ounces of the competitors' product, and boasting about how your tiny serving size has fewer calories than the bigger size serving of regular yogurt? Why not compare 1 gram of the good stuff to a million grams of the bad ol' competitive stuff and claim you're a million times better? Or would that be too obvious?

Here's the footnote: click to enlarge.

So let's see, if we compare a 6-ounce serving of frozen yogurt to a 6-ounce serving of regular yogurt, things are a little less impressive on the calorie front. Turn's out 6 ounces of Edy's frozen yogurt has 161 calories (160.5 if you don't round). That's a tad less than the 162 calories of evil regular yogurt, but not enough to avoid my FAIL award. There appears to be less sugar, with 21 g in Edy's versus 26 g in regular yogurt. Less sugar but the same calories? Bet it's the extra fat in Edy's making the difference, but the marketers don't seem anxious to discuss that part of the story.

Edy's applied an advanced technology to turn their high-fat product with the same calories as regular yogurt into a healthy marvel with 34% fewer calories. The most cutting-edge version of this technology is, of course, found at, where we can learn more about what leading experts call GAVROES, short for "Gravimetric and Volumetric Reallocation of Existential Substance." The WonderWhacker website may be a bit too advanced, but in layman's terms, if you take one portion of food and whack it with WonderWhacker technology, you can get two portions, each new portion now having approximately half the calories and half the fat that the single portion had before! Nestle hasn't upgraded their technology to be able to reduce fat as effectively as the folks at can, but I'm sure that's in the works.

Wait, this is a blog about religion? Oh, right. Well, the point is that statistics can tell some pretty crazy stories sometimes, especially when they are being used for marketing and not for understanding. Some hostile "marketers" love to throw statistics out the same way they throw out horrifying snippets about our bizarre beliefs, not to promote understanding but to quickly score emotional points to sell their point of view. A popular approach is to find social problems in Utah and suggest that the religion is responsible and, therefore, that the religion is bad or harmful. Utah is not paradise (you have to come over here to China for that, I'm afraid) and has plenty of problems, but linking those to the Church may be quite a stretch sometimes.

Improper bases for comparison can lead to errant conclusions in some of these drive-by-statistics cases. For example, in terms of suicide statistics for Utah, one seeking to understand might want to look at Utah stats versus the Mountain West in case to consider the impact of Western US culture. One looking at anti-depressant use in Utah might do several things to understand what it means and consider a variety of complex factors before jumping to rash conclusions. One troubled by the high consumption rate of green jello in Utah can also recognize, that, uh, I mean, because maybe, uh ... OK, that is just plain troubling. Sorry. But it's not necessarily the Church's fault.

Be careful when dealing with the tiny bit of information contained in a statistical snippet. Swallowing those stats like a plate full of green jello may not be the healthiest thing for you.
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