Saturday, June 12, 2004

Way bigger candy

Hebron store bucks anti-carb trend

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HEBRON - Northern Kentucky rebels who spurn the nation's obsession with low-carb diets have launched a counterattack, of sorts, establishing a no-diet zone in the snack-food aisles of the Ameristop Express here.

Caitlan Mikula buys a five-pound Hershey's Bar at Hebron Ameristop Shell.
(Meggan Booker photo)
The 2-month old "Tasteful Living" section - which touts candy bars, cookies and other snacks under "Full of Fat" and "Xtra Sweet" banners - flies in the face of the Atkins, South Beach and other low-carb diets that have won an army of followers.

But what the Tasteful Living movement lacks in numbers, it makes up for in size - as in 5-pound Hershey bars, quarter-pound cookies and 4-pound bags of Gummy Bears that would send a classroom of kindergarteners into spasms of hyperactivity.

"We are promoting what our core customers want to eat," Tony Parnigoni, Ameristop's chief operating officer and leader of the resistance, said. "Our Tasteful Living section is directed at the highly publicized diet fads that come and go. Yes, we are poking fun at them. But at the same time, we feel there is a very large market for the non-dieters."

Amy Palmer - a new Tasteful Living recruit - counts herself among those consumers who are fed up with the low-carb feeding frenzy that has spawned a wave of low-carb menus in fast-food restaurants and low-carb foods in grocery aisles.

"Everywhere you turn, it's low-carb this and low-carb that," said the 31-year-old Florence resident, who recently was eyeballing a giant Hershey bar that sells for $19.99. "If I want a 5-pound Hershey bar, I should be able to get one."

Experts will tell you that such nutritional thinking is akin to a suicide mission behind the enemy lines of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.

But not everyone sees it that way.

Gail Meyer, the Hebron Ameristop's assistant manager, said most Tasteful Living customers don't appear to be obese or unhealthy.

"They're just regular people who enjoy a treat like everybody else," she said. "Just because you buy a 5-pound Hershey bar doesn't mean you have to eat the whole thing all at once."

Meyer said the Tasteful Living test has been a big success, and the company plans to add the section to three more stores in Greater Cincinnati by the end of the year.

"We've had to restock the section four times already," Meyer said. "The Hershey bars are the biggest seller."



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