LOS ANGELES -- Unlike rock star "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," prunes don't want to change their name to an unpronounceable symbol, but do hope to become known as "dried plums," in hopes of improving their geriatric image, according to the California Prune Board, which is spearheading the effort.
The board has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration, Washington, to approve the more literal term as an alternative name for the prune, a request that requires FDA approval, since it is the equivalent of a label change under current regulations.
In its attempt to attract a younger generation of consumers to the prune, the industry wants to focus its energy and resources on female consumers aged 35 to 50, according to Richard L. Peterson, board president, who conceded that the prune's current image is less than glamorous, and "viewed by many U.S. adults as a laxative for old people."
"The negative imagery associated with prunes acts as a barrier to trial and purchase of prunes. Just hearing the name 'prune' evokes these negative perceptions," lamented Peterson in his letter to the FDA.
To win over regulators, the prune industry has proposed a transitional period, in which the two names are displayed together on the package labels, allowing consumers to become familiar with both terms and their synonymy. "Prune" would eventually be completely phased out.
"Our intent is not to eliminate the name prunes, but to establish an alternative name that would offer a more positive connotation," said Peterson.
The FDA, with jurisdiction over all processed and packaged foods, has reviewed the request and wants more information on what effect the prune industry believes a name change would incur.