Jamba Juice Hates Chemistry

August 23rd, 2012

Just about every chemistry blogger—including me—has lamented the increase in the number of businesses that advertise their products as “chemical free”. This rampant war on chemicals is as distressing to our field as it is to common sense—no product is free of chemicals.

But while I’ve seen plenty of anti-chemical ads, I’d never seen an anti-chemistry ad…until now:

Photo credit: Megan!

My fabulous labmate Megan snapped this photo at the Jamba Juice on historic Colorado Blvd in Old Town Pasadena. For those who might not be familiar with Jamba Juice, it is a fast food chain that sells overpriced fruit drinks to people who want to pretend they are living a healthy lifestyle. Imagine a less successful, fruity version of Starbucks. The slogan on their trough reads:


Well, hot damn. No chemistry…whatever that means. And here I thought “chemistry” actually had a positive public image (e.g., “that football team has good chemistry”). Oh well. Not for long.

Jamba Juice even has a handsome anti-chemistry commercial too:

Oh no! Taurine? Inositol?! I don’t want anything to do with those!

Give me real fruit juice (for $6.99 + tax) and I’ll forget about the fact that real fruit juice naturally contains inositol, and taurine naturally accounts for 0.1% of our body weight.

Argh! I’ll stick to soda to wash down this stupidity.


21 Responses to “Jamba Juice Hates Chemistry”

  1. Matt Says:

    wtf dude … especially since they were the ones who popularized adding all that “chemistry” with all of the boosts you could order for your drinks. sigh. (As in all things in life, it would seem) We chemists are but a pawn.

  2. qvxb Says:

    I liked the term “natural caffeine” in the commercial. I wonder if the caffeine in my Chock full o’Nuts coffee is “natural’?

  3. Mike Says:

    Hey, at least they got those ball-and-stick figures to be pretty accurate.

  4. Sonja Says:

    Ridiculous – but it doesn’t surprise me that this is coming from Nestle, a company that ignores sound scientific evidence in promoting their products (see unscrupulous marketing of breast milk substitutes, aka infant formula).

  5. Stacey Says:

    I agree with Sonja, this doesn’t surprise me at all. But I am glad to have read this post/blog. I am guilty of saying with my mouth that I am trying to avoid foods with lots of chemicals – but my scientist brain (albeit a life science trained one) has always thought that sounded weird.

    What do y’all suggest I use as a phrase for eating more naturally without additives?

  6. Perry Says:

    @Stacey – I’d suggest saying that you are trying to eat “real food”.

  7. Jennifer @noteasy2begreen Says:

    This belief that natural things don’t contain chemicals seems to be turning into an epidemic. I was just challenged to go chemical free for a week. Uh… Also, just found out that dried shiitake mushrooms have relatively high levels of naturally occurring formaldehyde. Let’s panic about it!

  8. Randy Schueller Says:

    This discussion reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible.”

  9. Carmen Says:

    Jamba finally came back to DC last month after a 5-year hiatus, and my smoothie punchcard is rapidly filling up. I feel like I’m in a Kramer/Kenny Rogers Roasters situation here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=aMjgHBnpeV0&NR=1&t=321

  10. davejac Says:

    We’ve had that for a while in New Zealand. http://neon.otago.ac.nz/chemistry/magazine/82/

  11. eugene Says:

    I tried to avoid my last lab because of all the chemicals. Sitting out on the shelves above the benches and hanging out with you in poorly ventilated shelves. Unidentifiable splotches spilled on desks and beside balances and never cleaned up by the Indian postdoc (who actually did manage to poison me eventually, but he had to trick me). Fruit drinks, not so much. Time for another glass of Diet Grapefruit Fanta!

  12. Atoms and Numbers » Chemical-free chemistry sets, and other advertising that is free from sense Says:

    […] of chemophobia, it is not the only one that has caught my attention in recent weeks. ChemBark showed us the latest tagline for Jamba Juice’s All-Natural Energy Drink: “All The Energy, Without The […]

  13. sgprilliman's Blog Says:

    […] cases of chemphobia have been the “Chemical free” chemistry sets, the Jamba Juice campaign “Don’t drink the periodic table” and Nicholas Kristof’s anti-chemical tirades, expertly called out by Deborah […]

  14. Organic lover Says:

    When they say energy with chemistry, are they talking about the Krebs cycle? Ha!

  15. Ivan Says:

    A cool thing to do would be, to scour job postings for chemists by Nestle, and publicly point it out. Bit prone to being misinterpreted, though…

  16. richard1941 Says:

    There is another chemical in most Jamba Juice drinks that is harmful to some: SUGAR. But, according to my local Jamba Juice “manager”, it is NATURAL sugar that must have a molecular structure that is different from ordinary sugar. I wonder if there is a way to verify this in the lab.

    I did not axe if their sugar was range-free, non-GMO, and gluten-free.

    As for colloidal silver, it is obsolete. Now there is a product called SUPERNATURAL silver. Is it bottled by ghosts who earn the minimum wage? Ideal employees: they are already dead and need no health care. And don’t forget the heart and body extract and the ORGANIC sulfur.

    Oddly, my brother-in-law embraces all this nonsense, and he was previously a PhD genetic engineer developing drought and cold resistant sugar beets for Russia and China.

    Some people need to believe; it makes them feel good.

  17. richard1941 Says:

    I forgot to mention the other chemical that is in all Jamba Juice drinks: dihydrogen monoxide!

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  19. jessethebuilder Says:

    People don’t want to eat weird chemicals, weird dude.

    How hard is that to figure out? Who cares about your industry. Get a real job.

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