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French Lemon Juice Product Will Let Citrus Flavors Go High-Tech

May 30, 1985|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

Ed Hoffman just loves to say, "Don't squeeze it; squirt it" when he's making the rounds promoting his unusual new juice product from France.

The excitable, quick-talking Hoffman is chief executive officer for Best One Produce and lead spokesman for the firm's Cit-Jet Lemon Juice, which he hopes will change the way consumers apply citrus flavor to food. The Frenchman's grand plan is underscored with a worldwide patent for the imported product's unique packaging.

Increases Shelf Life

The juice from 15 fresh lemons comes in a slim, 10-ounce aerosol can with a spray top. The container is also aseptic, thus employing a sterilization process that dramatically increases shelf life once opened. The product can keep indefinitely if refrigerated and will maintain its integrity about six months if just kept in the closet or a desk drawer, for that matter.

Cit-Jet is not concentrated and thus can virtually be sipped straight. When sprayed, the juice initially appears in the form of foam and then quickly settles into a liquid.

The juice's greatest potential is in being paired with sparkling waters when real lemons or limes are unavailable or inconvenient. In fact, the company plans to promote this aerosol juice during the summer in conjunction with France's Evian mineral water.

Later this year, Hoffman will be introducing other juices such as lime, strawberry, black currant and blackberry in the contemporary container.

Hoffman is enthusiastic about the possibilities for Cit-Jet and says its uses go far beyond mineral water. He delivered his message with a sense of urgency during a recent visit to Los Angeles.

Varied Uses

"You can combine this product with soda, milk or anything. Mix it with salt and use it to clean utensils and it won't leave a residue after cleaning like ammonia does," he said. "Women can use it to bleach their hair in the summer. Combined with honey and applied to the skin it prevents dryness and is a (pore) cleanser. It's even an appetite suppressant if taken before a meal. Cit-Jet also makes the best sauces and desserts."

At this time, Cit-Jet carries a rather steep price of $4.99 per can, which Hoffman says is necessary to recoup the cost of the 15 lemons and to compensate for the poor exchange rate of the French franc. Actually, $5 isn't too much to pay for the convenience of having "the miracle of lemon" always on hand, he said.

Currently, the aerosol lemon juice is available at Williams-Sonoma stores and Lindberg Nutrition Centers.

Secret Messages--Recordings that are played at barely detectable levels and heard subliminally apparently can have a distinct influence on behavior. More that 50 food stores around the country have used this type of technology to play recorded messages discouraging shoplifting, according to Progressive Grocer magazine.

"The technique typically calls for the message to be sent subliminally--that is just below the level of consciousness . . . the subconscious mind hears the message and forestalls the urge to steal," the magazine reports.

The sound level of the recordings is adjusted to be just below the constantly changing noise level of the stores. The messages can be played along with the usually present nondescript music or during breaks in the tunes.

An example of the wording in this Orwellian approach to shoplifting prevention is: "Stay honest, don't steal. We arrest shoplifters," according to the report.

The results have been impressive, and some stores claim a 30% decrease in shoplifting. The systems used are euphemistically called "honesty reinforcement," but questions have been raised about the ethics of such an approach.

The concerns stem from the possibility of supermarkets exploiting the subliminal messages to urge shoppers to purchase more items than necessary. Think of the sales possibilities for supermarket operators who use barely discernible recordings to encourage various meat sales, produce purchases or beer buys.

A representative of a firm marketing the systems says that the recordings can not be used in a sinister fashion.

"All they can do is reinforce a predisposition to think, believe or behave in a certain way."

Basket Hangers--Another trend in the supermarket industry coming under criticism is the practice of placing product advertisements on shopping carts. The Center for Science in the Public Interest addressed the issue in its recent monthly newsletter, Nutrition Action.

The consumer advocacy group's point is that being bombarded with advertisements and subliminal messages is bad enough without having to push a cart promoting Pepto-Bismol.

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