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Fleeting Flavorology: A Mother's Wrath

So your son wins a nationwide contest to be the Nestle company's Flavorologist for a Day,including a free trip to California to visit the top-secret flavor lab where the winner can see the company's ice cream taster in action, and get to sample exotica such as spaghetti-and-meatballs flavored ice cream. Pretty cool, right? That's what happened to Potomac resident Lynn Jordan's son, Max, a little while back.

The official statement from Nestle's says that "each winner (and up to three family members) will be invited on an all-expenses paid trip to the Nestlé Ice Cream Factory in Bakersfield, California to try their hands (and taste buds!) at being a flavorologist for a day."

But when Jordan's seven-year-old son won, he was informed there would be no trip. Instead, the company would give Max a $2,000 savings bond and gift cards from, Target and Toys R Us totaling $1,600--in all, a higher value than the originally-promised trip, the company assured the winner.

Talk about a bait and switch, says the mother. She has done all she can to spread the word about her son's lost opportunity.

No doubt the boy feels betrayed. But the original fine print of the contest gave Nestle the right to award a different prize, and anyway, the kid is getting some valuable stuff. More important, what kind of message is the mother sending by making this into a cause celebre?

What's the right parenting move here--go after the company tooth and nail, just shame the company publicly and move on, accept the alternative award graciously and rise above petty resentments, or refuse the prize on principle and take your kid out for an ice cream extravaganza?

By Marc Fisher |  September 25, 2007; 7:14 AM ET
Previous: Schools Monday: Eliminating the Excuses | Next: Highpointers: Climbing to D.C.'s Top Spot


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In the real world, door #2. In DC World with it's ego-centric view of the world and sense of entitlement, door #1. Especially since there are more publicity hungrylawyers per square meter than anywhere on earth, including law schools.

Posted by: Stick | September 25, 2007 7:29 AM

ditto, stick.

And teach the kid to fight for real, meaningful, altruistic causes, not self-centered artificial, meaningless ones.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2007 8:04 AM

But come on, I think it's pretty mean of the company to do that to a kid. A trip like that, even without the flavorology part means a lot more to a kid than the alternate prizes. Why not still give him the trip, with a tour of the facility and some other local sightseeing, and leave out the getting their hands in the mix part?

You'd think a company like Nestle could do better than that.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2007 8:15 AM

Read the linked article. The kid came up with an idea and signed away his rights to that idea, in order to win a unique trip and see things that the public usually does not. I'm not sure that "intellectual property rights" means much to a 7 year old, but I don't think the fine print does either. The prize they offered instead, and apparently were in their contractual offer, may have cost Nestle more, but that doesn't mean it had a higher value to the family.

If I were the mother, would I mount a full fledged anti-Nestle campaign (and I'm not sure how much she has thought she's gotten media obviously)? Probably not. But, would I be upset? I can imagine so. I mean, she got to explain to her 7 year old how he won the contest, but isn't getting the prize he was looking forward to. Sooner or later we all get disappointed in life, but still.

Nestle did a bait and switch on a seven year old, and if they get nailed for it, they should have considered that possibility in the first place.

Posted by: k | September 25, 2007 8:26 AM

Unless I'm missing something, all this mother is doing is publicly shaming the company. I think that's appropriate. They advertised and built up hype based on a prize they never intended to award. She's not suing, she's just calling out dishonesty. Over-reacting a bit, but I think it's fair to want to call that out.

Of course she should also be teaching her son that sometimes, life isn't fair. And that there are far worse things that can happen than not getting the original prize. It could also be a good lesson next time he doesn't want to do something that he has said he would do.

Posted by: SilverSpringGal | September 25, 2007 8:38 AM

If the kid had wanted a scholarship, he would have entered a scholarship contest. He wanted to be a flavorologist for a day. Sure, we don't always get what we want. That's a lesson we learn as we grow up. Do we need to learn it at 7? From a huge company which took advantage of a seven-year-old? Kids are their market, it wasn't really bright to be seen as the company that ruins kids' dreams.

Posted by: ep | September 25, 2007 8:50 AM

If there's anything to gripe about, it's that the value of the substitute prize obviously pales in comparison to the value of the original prize. A round-trip for four from DC to Bakersfield whould easily cost more than $1600 on its own, before setting foot in Nestle's lab. If she would focus on getting a slightly more equitable prize package instead of trying to put the Chungs out of business, I mean, "publicly shame Nestle" she might get more sympathy from the public instead of making herself look like yet another crazy DC lawyer out to get something for nothing.

Posted by: athea | September 25, 2007 8:58 AM

When you first read the article, it sounds like the kid won a trip just like "Willy Wonka" which would have been cool. There may be a good reason for the company to offer an alternate prize. Not really bait and switch. Welcome to the real world. However, when that bond matures, the kid will be happy.

Posted by: BDWESQTM | September 25, 2007 9:03 AM

Where's Roy Pearson when you really need him?!

Posted by: Sue me, sue you, sue everybody! | September 25, 2007 9:09 AM

Mom should get over this and move on. Sure, it would have been a cool prize, but the reality is that this type of thing happens all the time. Go on your PR crusade if you must (and I am sure that, living in Potomac, she has plenty of free time and extra money to stand on her soapbox) and tell the world about big, bad Nestle.

Posted by: Lester Burnham | September 25, 2007 9:22 AM

I'm sure his parents make enough money to hire some PR person to make the company look a little scuzzy.

Personally, I don't think its a big deal. At least he got a scholarship.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | September 25, 2007 9:27 AM

When I was little, 6, I once wrote a letter to Stephen Cosgrove, the children's book author. I used the pittance I had scraped together to by my own stamps, and even sent him a self-addressed stamped envelope for his reply. Just a "Hello", or "Thanks for your letter". I waited and waited and nothing arrived, and kept my hopes up for a year. I remember that year because it was when I learned not to be bitter, vengeful, and cynical about life, but that sometimes things don't work out, and you have to be cheerful and move on--even a little kid understands what really matters. Frustration and sadness is the result of your own attitude.

Posted by: bkp | September 25, 2007 9:38 AM

Reading the linked blog post, that trip looks like something I would like to do. The kid got screwed. If she want to vent in public I don't see anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Chris | September 25, 2007 9:39 AM

The company is lying when it says the substitute package is of greater value than the trip package. According to their rules, the grand prize package has a value of $4000 (adding up the individual ARV's came to $4500, so there's a discrepancy there, too). The package offered to the Jordan's is only $3600. Quite a difference.

Posted by: Arlington | September 25, 2007 9:47 AM

That's pretty crummy what Nestle did. That's a total bait & switch. Boo, Nestle! And PS who cares how much money the parents make? It's not like they can buy him a day as a flavorologist. The kid won a contest & then kind of had the rug pulled out from under him. Now, on the other hand, assuming the kid was happy enough with the substitute prize, well, then, Mom ought to chill.

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | September 25, 2007 10:02 AM

"Bait and switch" refers to a tactic of a store luring a person in with a sale item, claiming that item is out of stock, and then selling the person something more expensive. Like what apartment companies do when they advertise "rents tarting from $1!" I cannot see how this concept can be applied to the situation under discussion.

I know weeding out Malaprops is a hopeless.

Posted by: bkp | September 25, 2007 10:09 AM

I don't think it's appropriate for the mom to make a big public stink about this. She should explain to the kid that sometimes things don't work out fairly, but it's better to just accept it rather than investing a whole bunch of negative energy in trying to rectify the situation. It would be a useful lesson for the kid to learn.

Posted by: Lindemann | September 25, 2007 10:20 AM

Don't be ridiculous, this is a bait and switch.

Posted by: DCer | September 25, 2007 10:22 AM

In 2004 I won free plane tickets from the Dulles Plane Pull. I called and spoke to them many times about getting the tickets and they gave me all kinds of grief about "electronic tickets" in "my account" but never sent me the actual tickets. The whole thing was ludicrous. But as long as they never sent me anything in writing (they refused) and only would communicate to me via phone, I couldn't get any satisfaction.

Posted by: DCer | September 25, 2007 10:24 AM


Savings bonds are sold at 50% of face value, then have a maturity period, which is the time it takes for the bond to increase in value to its stated amount. So the cost of the $2000 savings bond is only $1000.

So Nestle, not only scammed the kid by baiting and switching his prize, but it is doing so on the cheap.

I think the mother has every right to hold Nestle to their word. That is $4000 as follows:

$100 in ice cream or $100,
The trip or $3200 in cash,
A $1000 Savings Bond, or $500,
$200 of ice cream at his school, or $200.

Nestle doesn't get to claim by some magic that a $2000 Savings bond, worth $1000, plus some gift cards totaling $1600 combine to be worth more what it is replacing (I think everything but the ice cream?) because it isn't.

Posted by: A $2k Savings Bond costs... | September 25, 2007 10:27 AM

Take the money and make sure the boy learns this important lesson in U.S. contract law: the lawful terms of a deal are binding, even if you don't think they're fair.

Posted by: William | September 25, 2007 10:46 AM

Sadly, such is life in our nation's capital. If there's something to complain--or file a lawsuit--about, we Washingtonians will find it. Perhaps Max's Mom should take a trip to one of our city's many homeless shelters and explain to some of the families with small children who have nothing how useless the gift cards, savings bond and other prizes are in making her son (actually, her) happy? Be grateful for what you've been given, as there are those in this world who have much less and go through much worse disappointments than not being able to visit an ice cream factory in Bakersfield.

Posted by: Right Winger | September 25, 2007 10:59 AM

oh come on people. this is Her son, Their time and effort no one else's. not a homeless person, not someone in a far off country that doesn't have as much. THEIRS! They should get equal value and nothing less!

Posted by: NALL92 | September 25, 2007 11:39 AM

To parody the singing dog Nestle commercial:

Stick it up your @-$-$

Posted by: Mister Methane | September 25, 2007 11:45 AM

Total bait and switch on Nestle's part, and shame on them for doing so. They took the total "We made no effort at all" approach. A lawsuit certainly isn't warented, but the bad publicity is. you'd think a company like Nestle would know better than to pull a stupid stunt like this.

Posted by: EricS | September 25, 2007 11:50 AM

Mister Methane, at a business meeting the CEO of my company stands up in front of us and says "I feel like Farfel, the talking dog" and I just busted up laughing.

No one else knew what the hell he mean.

"side.... ways."


Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2007 11:56 AM

Oh the little whiner! He's up there in Potomac, probably stomping around in his Ferragamos whacking things with his polo mallet and crying the blues to his governess about the injustice of it all.

Posted by: Stick | September 25, 2007 12:03 PM

I agree this is a mean-spirited bait and switch. Welcome to corporate America and its CEO president! However, the lesson here is 'read the fine print'. It doesn't sound like Nestle did anything illegal, just mean spirited. I think the Mom is welcome to try and force them to pony up but she will probably be unsuccessful. The lesson to her son comes early but it is important: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Posted by: Selden | September 25, 2007 12:12 PM

The lesson to her son comes early but it is important: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

But certainly winning an ice cream party doesn't qualify as "too good to be true" right? if it does to you, I'm sorry about the sad ice-cream-partyless world you live in, but in the 1970s my scout troop won some award and we were treated to a 24-flavor ice cream party at Farrells.

I think we're in agreement here, but I wanted to catch you and others who seemed to think that Nestle could advertise something it had no intention of following through on thanks to some "fine print." Such false advertising should be illegal and I hope it becomes illegal in the future.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2007 12:32 PM

Does Nestle realize that this likely means that the MOCO Council will probably pass a law banning all of their products from the Nanny County forever?

Posted by: Fisher's a MOCO whiner | September 25, 2007 12:34 PM

From her law firm bio....Lynn Jordan is a member of the firm's Trademark and Copyright Practice Group. Her practice focuses on all aspects of domestic and foreign trademark prosecution, trademark litigation, and client counseling. She has extensive experience advising clients concerning all aspects of their trademark portfolios, including the availability and proper use of trademarks and the existence of infringement, and has been involved in all phases of trademark litigation.

So why didn't she read the fine print?!

Posted by: Grace | September 25, 2007 1:06 PM

I vote for Mom and the 7-year-old. Good grief, Nestle, give the kid the prize you know he was expecting. How utterly cheesy. Fine print, huh? Nice one.

And, to all the sorehead cranks out there who are anxious to see this boy learn "some of life's hard lessons" about how you can be cheated, oh lighten up. Plus, the anti-Potomac Fever out there is kind of, uh, lame. And more than a tad defensive.

Mister Methane - good one.

Posted by: bob | September 25, 2007 1:06 PM

I'm sure the switch had always been planned, but those prizes wouldn't have been much of an incentive, so they "promised" a visit to their plant. It's just "business as usual", and no one should really be surprised. Nestle certainly has a history of poor business practice. I think Mom should do anything she can to shame Nestle.

Posted by: Momj47 | September 25, 2007 1:29 PM

Nestle's a corporate giant all over the world - what do they care about the disappointments of one family?

I bet Breyer's or Haagen Daaz wouldn't do that. I think someone like Ben & Jerry's ought to step up and offer a similar prize - VT is lovely this time of year, and their ice cream factory is supposed to have pretty neat tours. : ) THAT would be a fine, American sort of publicity stunt, and might actually show Nestle up.

Posted by: Maritza | September 25, 2007 2:45 PM

Mister Methane: ROTFL!!!

I will use my silent protest method - no products from this company for one year. Having five grandkids means a lot of lost sales. Get a couple hundred thousand people to join me and the stockholders will vote in a new board. Then who gets the last laugh?

Posted by: SoMD | September 25, 2007 3:01 PM

I did a search for products to avoid and realized that Nestles sells the Wonka line of candy, so the contest really was set up to look like a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory prize. That means they were lying all along.

Make my boycott two years. The products to avoid follow:

AFTER EIGHT® Biscuits & Mints
ALBERS® Corn Meal and Grits
AQUARI-YUMSâ„¢ cat treats
BEGGIN' STRIPS® dog treats
BENEFUL® dog food
BUITONI® Risotto & Foccacia Bread Mix
BUSY BONEâ„¢ dog treats
CAT CHOW® cat food
CHEW-RIFICâ„¢ dog treats
CROISSANT POCKETS® brand sandwiches
DELI-CAT® cat food
DOG CHOW® dog food
FANCY FEAST® cat food FRISKIES® canned & dry cat food
GOOD START® Infant Formulas
HI PRO® dog food
HOT POCKETS® brand sandwiches
KIT 'N KABOODLE® cat food
KITTEN CHOW® cat food
LA LECHERA® Sweetened Condensed Milk
LEAN POCKETS® brand sandwiches
LIBBY'S® Pumpkin
LIK-M-AID® Fun Dip
MAGGI® Seasonings
MIGHTY DOG® dog food
MILO® powdered beverage & ready-to-drink
NAN® Infant Formula
NESCAFÉ® Café con Leche
NESCAFÉ® CLASICO™ (soluble coffees from Mexico)
Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition
NESTLÉ ® JUICY JUICE® 100% fruit juices
Nestlé FoodServices
NESTLÉ® dessert toppings
NESTLÉ® European Style™ Desserts
NESTLÉ® Hot Cocoa Mix
NESTLÉ® Infant Formulas
NESTLÉ® MIlk Chocolate
NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Morsels & baking ingredients
PERUGINA® Confections
PRO PLAN® dog and cat foods
PURINA® ESSENTIALS™ cat treats and dog treats
TASTER'S CHOICE® instant coffee
WONKA® products
100 GRAND®

Posted by: SoMD | September 25, 2007 3:14 PM


If Annys Shin would return from her maternity leave and restart "The Checkout" blog you wouldn't have to cover this.

Posted by: SoMD | September 25, 2007 3:17 PM

So why didn't she read the fine print?!
her son. Why didn't her 7 yr old son read the fine print. After all it was his entry.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2007 4:01 PM

SoMD, thanks for the list. Unfortunately for cat owners like me, Puria, owned by Nestle, was one of the few brands that were not subject to poisoning this past Spring. So we'll hold our noses -- considering my nickname, that's a smart idea -- and continue to buy Purina. But when it comes to chocolate, we go with Hershey's for regular chocolate products and Lake Champlain for gourmet chocolate. This is no change from our previous purchasing habits.

The Ben & Jerry's Before Unilever would definitely have stepped in to give the kid a prize and have him name a new flavor. I don't know about the Unilever Ben & Jerry's.

Posted by: Mister Methane | September 25, 2007 5:41 PM

I think the trip to Bakersfield would have scarred the kid more than what Nestle did? B'field is a strange strange place. There's a reason why anyone traveling on the I-5 zooms past the city on their way to San Fran or Sacto... Ugh.

Posted by: Cali Girl | September 25, 2007 11:02 PM

Apparently this angry Mom tried to stir up her wrath on the Disney Boards...check out the link below. Looks like she was shamed out of the site by people who questioned her motives big time.

Interesting that she never answered the many questions about whether she was still going to accept the substitute prize.

Posted by: Willie Wonka | September 25, 2007 11:07 PM

This lady even created her own website to moan about her sad fate (oh boy)

From the looks of it the Mouse fans at the Disney site poked so many holes in her story that she deleted her expose posting and left an empty shell in its wake

Posted by: Gimme Gimme | September 26, 2007 12:06 AM

There's a reason that the supposed "people food" and pet food are co-mingled in the list. Neither are fit for human consumption. My boycott of the products unfortunately have nothing to do with their shameful treatment of a seven year old.

Mister Methane, go with Science Diet and skip the Purina/Beneful brands. I know most vets recommend it over the others. Just don't let your pets over-eat like most pet owners.

Posted by: Leesburger | September 26, 2007 3:42 PM

Cali Girl, You are SO right about Bakersfield. I gave my keyboard a spray from laughing when I read your post.

It's the butt of all California regional jokes (much like WV here). It's the city made famous in the joke about have 2 types of music -- country AND western.

Posted by: Leesburger | September 26, 2007 3:48 PM

SoMd, Sorry, but I will continue to buy what's on your list. Why boycott just Nestle? Why don't you boycott every other unethical business? Nestle has the best chocolate and I will continue to buy it.

Posted by: ChocoMama | September 26, 2007 8:13 PM

Nestle has the best chocolate and I will continue to buy it.

puhhh-lease! the "best" chocolate? If your tongue has been amputated.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2007 9:34 AM

Nestle. What arsewholes. Boycott ALL THINGS SWISS ....

Swiss Army Knives
Bally Shoes
Martina Hingis
Credit Suisse
Leica cameras
Novartis pharmaceuticals
Tag-Heuer watches

... and especially that Swiss Miss Instant cocoa!

Posted by: King tookas | September 28, 2007 1:07 PM

My child is also in the top 10 with Max. We are somewhat dissapointed about not going to California for the factory tour, but are not filled with wrath and ungratefulness. I'm happy to see my child rewarded for creativity. The adjusted prize package is just fine with us. If Nestle chose to omit the tour this one year out of the three-year-old contest, that is their call. However, people will now pay close attention to the contest next year. Boycotting will not be necessary for us, nor publicly bashing Nestle, nor complaining. The contest is a fun experience for our family. Too bad Max can't find the encouragement to enjoy this unique celebration of his creativity.

Posted by: Grateful Parent & Child | September 30, 2007 11:55 AM

Ms. Jordan may see the underbelly of our society of in her work quite regularly. Perhaps this is what prompted her to rally to her son's side against what she views as one more example of innocent people being taken advantage of. I admire Ms. Jordan's intelligence in calling attention to the situation so efficiently. However, does she wonder whether Nestle had a valid reason to close their lab this once to contest winners? Has this prize adjustment happened before with previous Flavorologist contests? If not, perhaps Nestle isn't out to intentionally hurt children but perhaps didn't think or realize how bummed the winning kids would be about not touring the factory. Is this a black and white situation, or perhaps just a reflection of our lack of faith that honest oversights and tough choices are made by good people...even corporations. I'd like to see Nestle vindicated or issue some public statement on their contest process this time around. Keep rallying to your son's side when the chips are down Ms. Jordan, but keep your eyes and his eyes open to the goodness that still exists in our country.

Posted by: Shades of Gray | September 30, 2007 1:55 PM

Posted by: Who is Lynn Jordan? | October 3, 2007 12:48 PM

Hi, there!..b67d0ea7025ac7315cee69f041e4435b

Posted by: music downloads free | October 7, 2007 7:26 AM

Guess she took the prize after all...Max's popsicle is featured on the Nestle website

It is WattsupPop since I don't suppose there is another Max J. from Potomac????

Posted by: MomTakesthePrize | October 12, 2007 12:58 PM

Good site! I'll stay reading! Keep improving!

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