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    Published on: May 7, 2009

    Supervalu Inc. announced yesterday that it has hired Craig Herkert, 49, who has been running Walmart’s Western Hemisphere operations outside the US, to be its new CEO, succeeding Jeff Noddle, 62, who has been in the job since 2001.

    Noddle will remain as chairman for the time being, leading the company’s strategic efforts as the transition to the Herkert regime begins.

    Previous to joining Walmart in 2000, Herkert worked for Albertsons, many of the assets of which Supervalu acquired in 2006.

    Lawrence Del Santo, Supervalu’s lead director, said that Herkert's "recent experience leading diverse formats in some of Wal-Mart's fastest-growing markets, combined with his previous experience working at Jewel-Osco, Acme Markets and Albertsons, make Craig the ideal executive to lead the company forward."

    The Wall Street Journal this morning suggests that there could be one possible wrinkle in Herkert’s move to Supervalu – a non-compete clause in his Walmart contract. The Journal writes: “Supervalu … may have to deal with a Wal-Mart noncompete agreement, which typically prevents the company's top executives from joining a specific list of rivals for at least a year, one grocery-industry recruiter said. Supervalu, the third largest U.S. food retailer by sales, is a Wal-Mart competitor. A Wal-Mart spokesman declined to comment about Mr. Herkert's noncompete agreement.

    “Supervalu wouldn't comment whether or not Mr. Herkert has a noncompete clause with Wal-Mart. However, Mr. Herkert will start during the company's fiscal first quarter, which began March 1, a company spokeswoman said.”

    The Journal also speculates that Herkert may be leaving Walmart because his path to the top of the company was effectively blocked, and that he had few other options within the Walmart bureaucracy. For example, when Doug McMillon recently became head of Wal-Mart's international division, the company went outside its own management team and brought in Brian Cornell, of the Michaels crafts chain and formerly of Safeway, to take McMillon’s old job running Sam’s Club.

    KC's View:
    One can imagine that at least some of the independent grocers that Supervalu serves might be distraught by the idea that their wholesaler will now be run by a man who worked for the company that has done its level best to put many of them out of business. It is our guess here that there will have to be some strategic diplomatic missions to certain retailers to assure them that things are going to be okay.

    This hire underlines the fact that Supervalu is a very different company now--one of the largest retailers in the nation--and this hire suggests the increasingly importance on retail management. It's a massive change for such an old and storied wholesaler…and it may be tough for its wholesaler customers to swallow.

    Now, there is certainly an argument that coming from Walmart, Herkert could be ideally positioned to help independents compete with his former employer. But one can also expect that some of Supervalu’s competitors will be out there looking for disenchanted customers that they can lure away. (I also would guess that there could be a few Supervalu executives getting calls from headhunters now that this move has been announced.)

    It also occurs to me that this is not the first time that a Walmart executive has been enticed to leave the Bentonville Behemoth to run a major wholesaler. If I’m not mistaken, Mark Hansen ran Walmart’s Sam’s Club division for a couple of years before he went over to run Fleming…and we all know how that little experiment worked out. (I’ve met people who even now reserve a few minutes each day to curse Hansen and his tenure at Fleming.)

    Herkert may indeed be “the ideal executive” to run Supervalu. But there will be those who will think that this may not be the perfect fit – especially because Jeff Noddle is a tough act to follow - and that will make his job a lot tougher.

    In Minnesota, the Star Tribune quotes the always on-the-money Burt P. Flickinger III as saying, “To retire at 62 is too soon. It's absolutely critical to Supervalu as a competitor, as an employer and a company facing one of its most challenging times in its history, that Jeff Noddle stay on for at least a full year.”

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    A couple of interesting stories popped up regarding women and the economic power that they wield.

    BrandWeek has a piece noting that a new study by an organization called M2Moms suggests that “60 percent of moms feel that marketers are ignoring their needs, and 73 percent feel that advertisers don't really understand what it's like to be a mom.”

    Here are a couple of interesting paragraphs from the story:

    • “As CEOs of their households, Power Moms wield more influence than ever before: moms control 85 percent of household spending, and are worth more than $2 trillion to U.S. brands, as reported by the Marketing to Moms Coalition. Most moms work. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1965, about 45 percent of women with children (under 18) were employed; by 2000, over 78 percent were. Whether they work out of the home, telecommute, or run a business from the home, media technology and the Internet have become a true enabler.”

    • “Nielsen reports that moms between the ages of 25-54 who have at least one child under the age of 18 within the home represent roughly 19 percent of the total online population. And they are not passive observers online. Rather, Power Moms leverage their megaphones to influence online purchase decisions. Considering the expansion in ecommerce for foods, beauty and household products -- which is projected to grow to $12 billion in 2011 -- effectively reaching moms has real bottom-line implication.”

    The problem, as identified by BrandWeek and numerous consultancies that focus on this segment of the population, is that moms are a heterogeneous group – their actions and interests and passions differ wildly depending on age, ethnicity, number of children, type of employment, etc… So talking to them as if they are all are the same actually does a lot more than miss the target; it creates the impression – often accurately – that marketers are doing too much talking and not enough listening.

    BrandWeek writes, “One of the more fundamental shifts that marketers might pursue is to overhaul their worldview of marketing to moms. It's a nuanced point, but it is time to move away from developing ‘messaging’ to integrating ‘listening’. Listening to online discussion acts as an ultra sensitive weathervane to hear the unexpected, the unprompted and to observe entirely new ways in which brands, categories and unmet needs may be expressed.”

    Meanwhile, there is an interesting column on by Claire Shipman (of ABC News) and Katty Kay of the BBC) in which they suggest that women are, in fact, benefitting from the current economic upheaval.

    An excerpt:

    “America is on the verge of the biggest workplace revolution since the Second World War. Back then, women were ushered into the work force in vast, unprecedented numbers. And they stayed. Now a different national crisis is set to remake the labor force. In a new and dramatic fashion.

    “We call this seismic shift Womenomics: the emergence of a new workforce dynamic that is giving women the power to tailor their work lives to better suit their needs. It is a revolution that will allow us to live and work the way we've always wanted.

    “We have enormous professional clout today. Clout that most women don't even know about. Survey after survey from California to Norway shows that women are not only good for business, but that companies that employ more senior women actually make more money. Call it Pink Profits. The female management style is seen as distinct—and even better. We're more inclusive, more focused on long-term results and more risk averse.”

    Shipman and Kay reiterate a point that has been made elsewhere – that men are losing their jobs in the current downturn faster than women are, and that “any day now we will make up a majority in the U.S. labor market.” This gives them enormous economic clout as consumers, and the women who run companies selling products to consumers will be in a far better position than their male peers to understand what to sell them and to sell it.

    They write, “As Harvard Business School discovered a few years ago, when women are faced with the agonizing choice between career and kids, the children tend to win. But in a Womenomics world, we don't have to make that choice anymore. We now have so much clout in the marketplace that we're not prepared to sit meekly at the boardroom table anymore. We're rebuilding that table and making it more female friendly.

    “All across America professional women are carving out work lives that really suit them. Lives where they have time for children, elderly parents, pets, marathons or just themselves. Four out of five of us say we want more flexibility at work. More and more of us want less responsibility. We no longer see our careers as ladders but as waves. We are asking for -- and for the first time, in big numbers, we are getting -- the right to dial our careers down and dial them back up, according to our needs.”

    Recession, they argue, is speeding this shift: “Companies that can no longer reward employees with hefty bonuses, or even any additional cash at all, are looking for more creative ways to hang on to valuable talent. Women, the majority of whom will trade status and dollars for time, are suddenly finding their employers more receptive to alternative work schedules than they were during boom times. And so women are doubly desirable employees now, because not only is our work valued, but our values make us more flexible to strapped employers. Since time is our critical currency, since we're often looking beyond money alone, we can help employers ride out the crises while reaping benefits ourselves … these moves aren't just a short-term fix. They will usher in efficiencies and productivity boosts that so far, only enlightened companies have benefited from, and that the newcomers won't want to lose.

    “The world of Womenomics has arrived. Don't let the gloomy economic headlines frighten you. It's a terrific time to be a professional woman.”

    KC's View:
    First, a message to the guys reading this piece:

    We are sooooo screwed…

    Okay, I got that off my chest.

    Actually, none of this should come as any surprise to any of us. The irony is that women have been telling men for years that they wanted them to be more sensitive…and now, having been largely ignored, they’re simply going to demand it, and we’re not going to have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

    If we miss the moment, or get run over in the process, well, to quote a certain troubadour, it’s our own damn fault…

    The good news is that if we actually pay attention – something that Mrs. Content Guy and the Content Daughter tell me I do too infrequently – we may actually end up running better businesses, being better employers, and even (gasp!) being better people. (Not that all women are saints and all men are heels. Far from it. Amid all this demographic and trend-shifting talk, we have to be careful not to generalize.)

    It’s interesting. When we added Kate McMahon to the MorningNewsBeat roster yesterday with a new column, it was extraordinary how many emails I got – from women - congratulating me for adding a woman’s voice. It never occurred to me that MNB didn’t have one, since roughly half the emails I get and post are from women. (That’s actually sort of amazing, when you think about it.) But they were yearning for at least one of their voices to be part of the regular mix…and I’m glad I got that message, even if it took almost eight years.

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    Now available on iTunes…

    To hear Kevin Coupe’s weekly radio commentary, click on the “MNB Radio” icon on the left hand side of the home page, or just go to:

    Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.

    Sometimes it seems like the problems never stop coming.

    One week it is salmonella contamination. The next week it is swine flu. Both take place while we’re grappling with recession and high unemployment and a credit crunch. The question isn’t whether something else is going to happen next week. It is what is going to happen next week, and whether we’re going to be prepared to deal with it.

    Sometimes, it seems to me, problems dictate solutions. Sometimes, though, the solutions actually predate and cause the problems…but are then positioned to take advantage of the opportunity.

    An example of this latter scenario, I think you could argue, is the ability to download music from the Internet via services like iTunes. I don't any of us realized that CDs were an obsolete technology until downloading made it so…and then the idea of going to the store and buying an album that someone else had put together suddenly seemed so 19th century.

    I’m not sure the same thing could be said for what is going on in the newspaper business, which has never looked so vulnerable as this week, when it has seemed like the Boston Globe seemed perilously close to the precipice of going out of business, just like the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post Intelligencer before it. And let’s face it, the Globe got a reprieve this week, but it still has a death sentence hanging over its head, just like virtually every other print newspaper in America.

    It’s not quite like the music business, though. Unlike listening to music, reading the news requires a greater level of active engagement…and while there are an awful lot of us who get our news and information via the Internet, newspapers haven't figured out how to monetize their online offerings yet. Most of us are fully on board with the idea that we should pay 99 cents for a song download, but would we pay 99 cents for a daily newspaper download? Would we pay a nickel a story? The jury is still out on that one.

    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions. It has been widely reported that a number of companies – including Amazon – are working on portable readers that would essentially recreate the newspaper experience but without actual paper and ink. You actually can download newspapers and magazines onto the Kindle, but Amazon has apparently developed a new Kindle that will have a bigger screen that is friendlier to the newspaper experience. Now, I understand how Amazon and its competitors are going to make money by selling the hardware, but it remains unclear whether newspapers can make money by selling the software to enough people.

    The problem is obvious, but the solution still seems out of reach and not quite defined. I tend to think that the journalism business probably will have to switch to a largely nonprofit model – what the hell, it isn’t making any profits anyway – and that the shape of journalism is going to change in fundamental ways. I hope this will happen for the better, not the worse…it was both heartening and a little depressing to see the great Anna Quindlen decide to give up her Newsweek column in part because she thought it was time to give the space to younger blood, thought it was time to get out of the way. (Yikes! She’s only two years older than me, and I still haven't decided what I’m going to when I grow up! Maybe that’s because, as Jimmy Buffett sings, I’m growing older but not up…but I digress.)

    I mention all this because it seems to me that whatever business you happen to be in, it is important to do a couple of things. First of all, you have to create an environment in which people are prepared and empowered to deal with the problems we cannot yet see coming and do not understand; speed and sophistication in one’s reaction can be critical to whether one is seen as being credible and worthy of trust. But it also is important to create an environment that looks to create problems…that looks to put the company out of business through new products and services…so that one can actually be nimble enough to get ahead of the wave…and, by the way, get ahead of the competition.

    There are different kinds of problems, and there are different kinds of solutions. There also are different kinds of companies, and in today’s warp speed business, technology and communications environment, there is no excuse for being a company that deals only in the present tense. If you’re that kind of company, you may well live long enough to read your corporate obituary in the daily newspaper…unless of course, the daily newspaper no longer exists.

    For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    The Huffington Post reports that Walmart CEO Mike Duke finds himself at the center of a cultural storm these days, as he is accused of being “bigoted and discriminatory” for his support last year of a state initiative preventing same-sex couples from being adoptive or foster parents.

    Duke’s support of the initiative became public knowledge when opponents found his signature on a petition calling for a statewide referendum on the issue; it passed in November with 57 percent of the vote.

    There seem to be a couple of problems for Duke, who has a reputation within the organization for religious and cultural conservatism. Walmart has been working overtime in recent years to present itself to the world as a more open and accepting employer and corporate citizen, and in some circles, this position appears to run counter to that public relations effort … and creates at least the perception that it is only a public relations effort.

    This creates the possibility of a schism between Walmart leadership and the company’s employees who happen to be part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. And it also seems to put Walmart firmly on one side of the gay rights issue at a time when five states – Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and, just this week, Maine – allow gay marriage, and it appears that New Hampshire is close to joining the list. (It is ironic that virtually all of New England soon may allow gay marriage, and that New England probably is Walmart’s weakest territory in the US.)

    Another issues at play here, the HuffingtonPost notes, is that Duke signed the petition as a private citizen, not as a Walmart executive: is it fair that his company be held accountable for his own personal beliefs and preferences? Furthermore, it can be argued – though Duke himself has not made this point – that signing a petition calling for a referendum is not necessarily the same as supporting one side of the issue, but rather just supports the notion that citizens ought to be heard and their votes counted.

    KC's View:
    I love issues like this one – it takes gender politics, civil rights and the role of religion and ties them up in one big messy package that is almost certain to explode in my face.

    What the hell. In for a penny…

    It is dangerous for this aging, former altar boy to start quoting scripture, because almost certainly people who know far more about the Bible than I will offer competing verses. But when I read this story, I have to admit that a New Testament verse immediately leapt to mind:

    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    Of course, I make a living making judgments, so I’m going to ignore that admonition to some extent. And then you guys can take your best shot.

    I think that in the best companies, corporate culture is a direct reflection of the people at the top. They reflect their passions and beliefs and interests … that’s why the best companies are run by leaders, not managers. They’re paid the big bucks not just for their skills, but their sensibilities.

    I recognize that it must be difficult for some folks to deal with issues like same sex marriage or same sex adoption or even the fact that the LGBT community has a name and a face and growing political and cultural clout. It must be tempting, overwhelmingly so at times, to want to draw a line and say, this far and no farther. Or to find a way, any way, to force a return to simpler times when issues like this one didn’t exist or at least didn’t find their way onto newspaper front pages or onto the Internet for all to see.

    But I think that Walmart and its CEO find themselves on the wrong side of history on this issue. I don't think it is out of any sort of malevolence, though some would argue that there certainly may some ignorance.

    We all face issues – within our families, or circles of friends, our workplaces and our communities – that are hard to understand, hard to integrate into our mindsets. But we have to start with compassion and tolerance, to whatever degree we can muster it, even if we have to fake it. And that goes especially if you are the CEO of a public company with responsibilities to be a good shepherd of a wide-ranging and diverse flock.

    It is a good thing that Mike Duke has agreed to meet with Walmart Pride, a group representing the company’s LGBT employees. I hope it is the beginning of progress. Because the alternative simply doesn’t make any sense. For anyone.

    Whatever happens, here’s the lesson: nothing is a secret anymore. Everything is transparent. Act accordingly. Because actions have consequences.

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that it has reached new agreements to sell two of its private brands – O Organics and Eating Right – outside its own stores.

    Albertsons LLC reportedly will begin selling O Organics in 240 of its stores, while both lines will be sold at 150 ShopRite stores in South Africa and 100 Exito supermarkets in Colombia.

    Three regional grocers in the US -- Big Y Supermarkets, Price Chopper and Hy-Vee – already have signed deals to sell the Eating Right line.

    The expansion of the two lines is seen as a way for Safeway to broaden its portfolio, expanding on a strategy that already has it selling retail gift cards through its Blackhawk subsidiary in a wide variety of stores and formats. And, the move gives non-competing retailers a way of quickly rolling out a private brand that gives them a differentiated position in their own markets.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    • Yesterday, MNB reported that Walmart agreed to pay “an unspecified sum” to the victims and relatives of victims hurt in a “Black Friday” stampede of shoppers at a Long Island store. That stampede, the day after Thanksgiving that serves as the traditional first shopping day of the holiday season, killed one security guard when 2,000 shoppers broke through a door at the store as it was about to open. Walmart also has agreed to make ongoing security and safety improvements to its stores on Long Island as part of the negotiated agreement.

    Now, Newsday reports that the “unspecified sum” is actually almost $2 million, and that fine will help the retailer avoid criminal charges in the case.

    However, Walmart isn’t completely off the hook. The family of the man trampled by the crowd has announced that it plans to sue.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    USA Today reports this morning that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “is failing to meet its goals for auditing food-safety inspections that states do on its behalf … The FDA fell short of its goal in at least 17 of 39 states it paid to do inspections in the 2007-08 contract year … In five states, the FDA did no audits.

    “State agencies do half the FDA's food inspections. The FDA aims to audit 7% to help make sure states do good inspections.

    “The FDA's performance has improved. Its data for the 2006-07 year show its audit goal was unmet in 21 of 37 states. In eight states, no audits were done. In 1998, the FDA did no audits in 21 of 38 states, said the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in a 2000 report.”

    • Confirming reports that began circulating earlier this week, Carrefour has signed a letter of agreement to acquire 75 percent of the Russian supermarket chain Sedmoi Kontinent (Seventh Continent). The precise terms of the buyout are still to be negotiated.

    • Sprouts Farmers Market announced a new college and vocational school scholarship program to provide assistance to Sprouts employees and their families.

    The Henry Boney Memorial Scholarship Program – named after the late patriarch of Sprouts’ founding family – will award up to 17 $2,000 scholarships to qualified applicants each year based on their academic record, track record of participation in school and community activities, and financial need. The initial application deadline is May 30th and the first grants will be awarded for the 2009-2010 academic year.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    • Walmart announced that Rick Bendel, chief marketing officer for its Asda Group, has been named international chief marketing officer for the parent company. He will continue to work out of Asda’s offices in the UK.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    • Walmart reports this morning that its April sales rose 2.4 percent to $29.853 billion, on same-store sales that were up five percent.

    • Royal Ahold said that its total first quarter sales were up 15.2 percent to the equivalent of $11.7 billion (US), with sales at its Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover chains in the US up 3.6 percent to $5.32 billion from $5.14 billion a year earlier.

    • Costco Wholesale reported that its April sales were down six percent to $5.18 billion, on same-stores sales that were down seven percent in the US and down eight percent internationally.

    • Unilever said yesterday that its first quarter net profit was $973 million, down 45 percent from a year earlier, on sales that were down one percent to $12.7 billion.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 7, 2009

    In a commentary yesterday about a New York Times story on new hiring, and that focused in part on a new Fairway store in New Jersey, I described the employees at that store as being “engaged and dedicated.”

    MNB user Daniel Hariton McQuade disagreed with the characterization:

    Are you kidding? Apparently you haven't been to there 74th/Broadway location lately. The level of service is horrible. Especially at the front end where cashiers won’t say hi or look at you, and then tell you, not ask you, to take out the items of your hand basket. Then still without acknowledgement don’t tell you the amount you’s up to you to view the total. Then tells you to put the basket on the floor which I refused to do and told her just that. I put my hand out to receive my change and it was placed on the belt. And this is not an isolated incident. We joke about it with friends often. Order something from the deli, I dare you! Better yet ask a question about a species of fish or if the scallops are natural (Thank God, Citarella is right next there's a place that does seafood right.)

    They have the fresh produce, variety is good for the city, the prices are probably the most reasonable for Manhattan (not close to prices available across the river … fortunately for me I travel to NJ twice a week and shop there), and the store is far from what I consider clean.

    We and our friends, who also have shared this experience from these “highly engaged and dedicated group of employees” hate the experience, but we tolerate it like we tolerate trying to get a taxi in midtown at 5pm on a rainy day, or sweating in the subway on a hot August options! Yes, they do an incredible volume of business, and as they say “volume hides a lot of sins”...but here you don’t even have to scratch the surface to see the lack of investment in employee training and organizational development.

    Hope to see you in line some Saturday on the Upper West Side to see this exceptionally skilled group, then give me a qualified opinion. (I hope you are trying the wines you recommend…)

    Well, there’s no reason to get snippy about my wine recommendations. (I try every one. I promise.)

    My characterization was of the New Jersey store employees. I haven't been to the Upper West Side store in a while, so it may well be that things have declined there (though that wasn't my experience).

    It’s also New York. You pay a price for living in the center of the known universe.

    Regarding this employment story, which pointed to increased hiring by certain kinds of companies even in recession, another MNB user wrote:

    My first thought was the opportunities that were cited by Fairway Markets and Wal Mart are more than likely hourly positions and mostly part time. I have seen statistics that range from 60%-40% to as high as 75% - 25% part-time to full-time ratio for supermarkets, supercenters and specialty… so when I read comments such as “The retail sector is cited as one place where hiring is happening…both at small and big retailers” I am less inclined to be excited.

    My second thought was to your point, Kevin. The recession does offer an opportunity to be choosier about the people you hire but unfortunately most times, the person being hired is not the one who was laid off. At the manager, director, or positions above this, more often than not I hear comments such as: “If he is that good, why didn't the company find something for him instead let him go?”

    Which is usually followed up by, “let’s see who else is out there”. I am sometimes less tolerant of these kinds of remarks and may find myself saying …. “yes, you’re right Mr. Employer. 1,700 people were laid off and not one of them is any good” or “yes, you’re right Mr. Employer. The company closed 50+ stores and liquidated assets, and the person you just spoke to was entirely responsible.”

    One of the most insightful comments I ever heard was from a Wegman’s Regional Operations Manager. When I asked if he were looking to hire a strong leader where he would look. He said that he would take someone from a company that has been struggling or not as successful. His feeling was that these individuals may have learned to be more resourceful, more aggressive, and more creative because they would have had to do more with less. In other words, he said not every unsuccessful company has unsuccessful employees and vice versa; so he would not judge a person based on the company they worked for, but would evaluate them based on their own merit. This just demonstrates another reason why this company remains so successful.

    And MNB user Dave Howald chimed in:

    I have always remembered something that consultant and speaker Harold Lloyd said about hiring and training people. He said many retailers tell him they don’t invest in training because they already have high turnover and it’s not worth the investment.

    Harold’s response to that was, “Well, what if you don’t train them and they stay?”

    That phrase has always stayed with me as I also do some produce manager seminars to educate produce personnel about avocados. The companies that invest in training their store level people are the companies that continue to rank high in customer satisfaction surveys. Loyal customers are the backbone of any successful business and those retailers who ignore this will slowly watch their customers migrate to where they will be treated well and have knowledgeable employees who can answer questions or direct you to the correct answer.

    Regarding the discrepancy that sometimes exists between how healthy products are and how healthy some people think they are, one MNB user wrote:

    Funny, I just hit the roof while shopping at Whole Foods this weekend over this very type of thing. I sought a no salt cracker for my mom who is hypertensive with an enlarged heart and told to eat no salt foods. She needs little snacks like crackers to take her meds with in between meals. I nearly picked up the 365 Saltine-style crackers that blitzed no salt on the top of the package, but when you read the nutritional panel, it had 125 mg of sodium! Disconnect. Closer scrutiny flipping back to the front display panel revealed, it was No Salt "tops". I fumed at how irresponsible the marketing was on this consumer product segment. Does anyone think folks buy No salt items for the flavor??? I don't think so. It is bought for health reasons and not just because some young, fit and yoga savvy consumer wants more fluffy anti-oxidants in their diets, it is because there are serious consequences to having salt for the no sodium/low sodium diet shopper.

    What was in their head? Lots of folks still don't scrutinize labels and, worse, many still trust the claims on the front panel. Being tricky, misleading or complicated in the claims on the front panel is just wrong and not appreciated by those who see the lack of responsibility taken and it is really not fair to those who consume what they shouldn't when they tried hard to "be good" and end up feeling bad anyway. Or suffer serious health consequences because of it. Is it any wonder consumer confidence and trust of food manufacturers is at inauspicious levels?

    And finally regarding my short obituary for Dom DeLuise, one MNB user wrote:

    How could you mention “Spaceballs” and not “History of the World Part I”? Dom DeLuise didn't even appear in “Spaceballs”. He just did the voice of Pizza the Hutt.

    And just what are these "lousy Burt Reynolds movies" that Dom DeLuise appeared in? If you're referring to “Cannonball Run,” you either need your head examined or you were too old in 1981 to appreciate the movie. I'm guessing it's the latter (don't forget you started the whole "I just feel old and out of touch" bit).

    And another MNB user wrote:

    Are you calling “Cannonball Run” a lousy Burt Reynolds movie? I don’t think I know who you are anymore…

    At the risk of disenfranchising a core constituency, I have to admit that I hate “Cannonball Run.” I was a big Burt Reynolds fan – I count “Deliverance,” “Starting Over,” and “The Longest Yard” (the original, not the execrable remake) among my favorite movies, and have a soft spot for “Nickelodeon,” “Sharky’s Machine,” “Semi-Tough” and even “Gator.” But “Cannonball Run” started the long decline as far as I’m concerned – he stopped acting and started parodying himself. He could have had a career like Clint Eastwood (he’s a better actor, and he also directed), but instead he ended up having a career like..well, like Burt Reynolds.

    Paul Crewe once said that “The most important thing to remember is: to protect your quarterback - ME!”

    Burt Reynolds didn’t protect the quarterback.
    KC's View: