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Nov 13, 2008 04:25 AM

Alton Brown Commercial

Was it my imagination or did I recently see AB in a Welch's Grape juice commercial, What's up with that??

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  1. It definitely was not your imagination. Check out this link:

    6 Replies
    1. re: bnemes3343

      Thanks bneme3343. I guess THEY all do commercials sooner or later, but all things being equal, I'd rather get my "polyphenol antioxidants" from Red Wine
      instead of the juice:-)

      1. re: kpaumer

        The fact is, there is just too much money being offered for folks to turn down doing commercials. Just a couple of days work and a lot of money. Why not do it, especially if it is a product you like.

        1. re: dinwiddie

          Yeah, why not. A least it's a decent product.

          It's not like Guy Fieri with his TGIF nonsense (shudder) or Rachael Ray with her Dunkin Donuts routine (dumb-o).

          1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

            Good for AB. He's one of the best and I have no problem with him making some bucks.

        2. re: kpaumer

          Nothing at all wrong with doing commercials, especially when those multiple paychecks start coming from the typically single day of work. I've done a few over the years and even at union scale, the money is pretty darned good, especially when you wind up in one that runs for a year or two. Can't even imagine what these "name" folks are making...and I certainly can't blame 'em for making hay while the sun shines.

          1. re: kpaumer

            Me too, kpaumer, but hey- if I got enough money for doing a commercial to put my kid through college I'd go for it, especially if I wasn't selling somebody a big fat lie.

        3. I was surprised to see AB too!

          The long hair and the high hairline gives him a weird look... Reminded me of Harry from Harry and the Hendersons (a movie from the late 80's).

          5 Replies
          1. re: dave_c

            I may be mistaken, but it seems he has started visiting the same salon as Ruhlman.

            1. re: GilbyEast

              I was trying to figure out where I saw AB's do before! Totally Ruhlman!

              AB needs to keep his hair short.

            2. re: dave_c

              I don't really care for the hair. The weird spiky hairdo was more wacky food nerd IMO.

              1. re: dave_c

                yes! harry and the hendersons:

                someone should be a friend and tell him to cut it. what next, a ponytail? gaaaah!

                1. re: alkapal

                  His longer hair looks awful. The modified mullet makes him look like Sig Hansen from Deadliest Catch.

              2. This is funny. I guess if the personality is well-liked, then it becomes "good for him/her", whereas if they are NOT well-liked, it's "he/she is in it for just the money" (like there's anything wrong with that...).

                I can remember a while ago Rick Bayless getting absolutely crucified for doing a Burger King commercial or consulting - I don't know, my memory is a little hazy - how come no one is doing the same for Alton?

                Personally, I think it's all 'eater-tainment' and if a food personality is on TV, then they want to be on TV. There are plenty of incredible chefs who will never see a TV camera because that's just not their thing.

                24 Replies
                1. re: Raquel

                  If someone offers you TV-money for a relatively simple task most people would be hard-pressed to say "no." The issue people had with Bayless was in associating with BK -- hardly known for healthy cuisine (even though the sandwich he promoted was "healthier"). It's a little incongruous to build a career on fresh, healthy ingredients and cooking and then suddenly shill for a fast-food company. Alton Brown's gig is somewhat more innocuous -- he modifies his "Good Eats" schtick to extol the virtues of grape juice. Now if he was pushing Pop Tarts or Mountain Dew it might be fair to criticize, but grape juice -- as sugary as it may be -- is not compromising whatever "integrity" he may have started with.

                  1. re: Raquel

                    I enjoy Alton's shows (Feasting series are my favorite) but I wouldn't put him in the same class of chef as Bayless. I think those who understand how Bayless cooks and the level of ingredients he uses were aghast that he would endorse fast food.

                    To see Alton talking about the health benefits of grape juice using the "scientific" method wasn't a stretch from his normal TV job. Watching Rick try to sell the great flavor of a BK product was just wrong.

                    1. re: Dee S

                      Ah, so then you get to choose which products are worthy, and which are not? If you hear Burker King's side, they were trying to promote a "fresher" menu item than their regular everyday menu items - so it only makes sense to get someone "credible" to extol its virtues.

                      My hunch is as my original assertion that if Alton were to do a Wendy's commercial, his fans would still stick by him. I think the argument is over-simplified when the 'fast-food' excuse is thrown in.

                      Of course, this is just my 2 cents....

                      1. re: Raquel

                        I'm a huge AB fan and I would be appalled if I spotted him on a commercial for fast food. His cooking is not always healthy, but it is homemade with fresh ingredients. I would not be shocked at all if say....Sandra Lee were to start appearing in ads for fast food. I think it's a thing where we expect better from respected chefs, as in the case of Rick Bayless. He's well known for his Mexican cuisine, real regional Mexican, not TexMex or southwestern. So it's a shock to see him trying to advertise Burger King, of all things. There would be pure outrage if it were Taco Bell instead, because of what he represents in the food world.

                        1. re: spellweaver16

                          Why would you be appalled? He's an actor!

                          I find it funny that so many people on Chowhound treat Alton like he's some serious culinary figure with heavy duty pedigree behind him. I'm a fan of his, but he's an actor who has just happened to specialize in food TV.

                          1. re: Raquel

                            Alton is a serious foodie who did go to the NE Culinary Institute BTW who goes to great and amusing lengths for culinary perfection. His show is about integrity. While RR and Sara Lee have always been about making food accesible and has never claimed to be a "chef" rather a home cook. Getting the food on the table in 30 minutes is almost a complete 180 from Alton's build it yourself contraptions and complicated recipies.

                            1. re: MaryKatesMom

                              He FIRST went to acting school and studied to be an actor, as well as cinematography. Then, MUCH, MUCH, later, like I think in late 90s, he went to culinary school, since his acting career was going nowhere, and realized the popularity of chefs/food personalities. There is nothing wrong with this. He did not, yearn to be a chef or a "foodie" since he was a child. It came out of necessity and love of opportunity of money. He's VERY good at what he does, and captures a more intellectual audience on the Food Network.

                              1. re: Raquel

                                I agree his first passion was acting and cinematography but I certainly disagree that he is "acting" like a foodie. He didn't HAVE to go to culinary school but he went because he loves it. Going back to school was not a necessity rather an indication of commitment. How do you know he DIDN'T yearn to be a chef? I bet the majority of his audience wanted/ or wants to be a chef. On being a foodie, he did say he found himself reading cookbooks on sets. No one BUT foodies read cook books just for fun.

                            2. re: Raquel

                              No kidding. I don't care if he went to chef school. It's a schtick, like Susie Coelho is a decorating expert. I don't mind him, but I think his producers deserve a lot of credit.

                            3. re: spellweaver16

                              In fairness, his as defined himself as a filmmaker who happens to make films about food (as opposed to a chef or TV star). This question came up at a book signing, and I take him at his word for the answer.

                              So yes, we may treat AB a little different, but he IS a little different. And darn nice in person, BTW. (Not to imply others aren't, just offering the data point.)

                              I don't really care about the commercials, not even Guy at TGIF's or Tyler at Applebees. Hey, folks gotta make a living, right?

                            4. re: Raquel

                              It really is a matter of integrity. You didn't see Julia Child shilling for Pizza Rolls, although I'm sure they would have paid her to do it. It's not a matter of "Burger King's side" of the argument, there's no question that the company benefits. The issue is what it says about the spokesperson, not the product.

                              1. re: ferret

                                Ferret, our original posts crossed and your follow up post sums it up perfectly. I wasn't isolating BK as a bad product but was trying to highlight the major leap Bayless took with the endorsement. I know his integrity suffered a bit in Chicago but he recovered.

                              2. re: Raquel

                                Yes, we get to choose which products are worthy.

                                Of course from Burger King's side of things they wanted a big name in the food world to endorse their product. From Rick Bayless' side of things, the product was still crap and he endorsed it anyway. And he lauded the health claims of the product if I recall. It was a bad move and I think you can tell that he thought so, too since he stopped doing it very very quickly.

                                I'd be very put off if Brown were to endorse Wendy's. I'm sure many fans would say "he's not a nutrition expert" or something like that and they wouldn't be bothered by it. I'm a fan, but I'd be bothered. I'd also be bothered if he endorsed, as someone noted, HotPockets or something similar.

                                He's been very successful on television for quite a while now. Personally, and I don't know a lot (or anything) about how such things work, but I'd be really surprised if he hadn't had offers to endorse all kinds of things. This is the first food product I've seen him endorse. (I think he's endorsed some equipment either for pay or by clearly showing and using them.) He seems to be making some choices about it himself.

                                1. re: ccbweb

                                  Perhaps my sarcasm didn't come through in text, ccbweb.

                                  And, away from "foodie" eyes, Bayless is still consulting on many, many projects that I'm sure many hardline, black or white Chowhound types on here would have much to say about....

                                  Alton does "infomercials", yes, I said "infomercials" for GE. For the trade, not for the consumer. I'm not sure if GE products pass the strict Chowhound test around here. We'll find out.

                                  The best debaters of course, are informed ones.

                                  1. re: Raquel

                                    Totally missed the sarcasm. Sorry about that...tone and the internet. We really need a good font that would encompass tone or emotion without having to resort to emoticons which I just can't stand. (Except that my wife and I use them in our emails, which is just silly but there you go.)

                                    Didn't know about Bayless. I haven't had the chance to eat at his restaurants but I quite like the two cookbooks of his that I have and his jarred salsa has been decent to very good depending on the specific type, so he's OK in my book. I get some cool ideas from his PBS series, too, though I don't really like the show itself so much.

                                    For the most part, anyone who claims that equipment is a part of being a Chowhound just isn't paying attention to the world! So, if the GE stuff somehow didn't pass the test for them...well, I'd stop listening to them.

                                    When someone endorses a product the real gauge seems to be "do I like the product?" If they endorse something one eats then clearly they have discerning taste and a wonderful palate. If they endorse something one would never touch, they're a sellout. Or something like that.

                                    For me, if someone endorses a product I find indefensible, it may well cause their credibility to slip in my mind as someone who knows things that taste good because I generally hope that people won't endorse something they don't like. Clearly, not everyone does, but it's an organizing principle for me so I stick with it.

                                    1. re: Raquel

                                      It's pretty silly to criticize Alton Brown's motivation for going to culinary school. And the reality is that he's been doing his show for a decade and even a food ignoramus is bound to pick up a little skill over that time frame, even if he is just reading cue cards. The universally-venerated and self-described "party girl" Julia Child didn't give two hoots about cooking until she met her husband and was roughly Alton Brown's age when she went to cooking school. Brown seems to be a reasonably smart guy who's cornered a segment of the edutainment market. He hurts no one and appears to inspire and inform many.

                                      1. re: ferret

                                        Silly for who? You?

                                        The reality, my friend, is that he went to culinary school AFTER he decided to do the TV show because he knew he need the street cred. End of story.

                                        1. re: Raquel

                                          I'd tend to at least give him enough credit that he went to culinary school not only for "street cred" (goodness, what a silly concept to apply to all of this) but so that he could also actually learn some things that would be applicable.

                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                            Which brings me to my original point of "giving him enough credit", or "giving him the benefit of the doubt", because you are all FANS. If this was Rachel Ray or Giada, not so sure those ladies would be given the "benefit of the doubt". Geez, at least I'm a fan of his but objective enough to call a spade a spade.

                                            1. re: Raquel

                                              I must have gotten lost. I do like his show. I thought you called the spade wrong is all. I was only suggesting that he went to culinary school not only for street cred but also to learn things necessary for the job. I wasn't trying to make him the most noble cook in all the land.

                                              On the question of this particular endorsement (the Welch's juice) I don't actually give him either credit or doubt but note it and move on because I think the product is a reasonable one.

                                              Pretty much the same as with Rachel Ray and Dunkin' Donuts. I don't have one near me, but I don't much care what coffee she endorses. I also didn't have an issue with her endorsing Triscuits and Wheat Thins because I think they're good crackers. But I suppose you're right insofar as there are likely many people who would lambaste television hosts they don't like no matter the product and would support those hosts they do like regardless of their endorsement choices.

                                              Oh, and from my own head; objectivity is highly overrated.

                                              1. re: Raquel

                                                Although I am a fan of AB. I'm also a fan of RR and Giada's. One of RR's greatest strength is her humility, she has never claimed to be anything but a 'cook'. Making food accessible is one of her greatest strengths. I wasn't upset at all about her doing DD's, she's all about quick meals not perfection. Funny, but I think you have it backwards. I would be upset with AB for selling out if he did DD's. Grape juice - well it could be an episode on his show but DD's couldn't be an episode if you follwo my meaning. He didn't step out of his material with grape juice and RR didn't with DD's.

                                            2. re: Raquel

                                              And that's silly. "Street cred"?? He completed the program. Just like any other chef-wannabe. So he's not Thomas Keller. He is what he says he is. Trying to belittle him for possessing the requisite credentials for his job is like saying a physician only went to medical school for the money and prestige of being called "doctor." If he did it, he is it.

                                              1. re: ferret

                                                Wow. We have a saying here: "you've lost the plot".

                                                And talk about people putting words in your mouth. When did I belittle him? I think you're reading in a little too much here, or keep looking for an argument. What I did do, was point out a timeline of events. I did not belittle anyone. Please don't assume things that aren't there. I clearly also stated many, many times that I like him and enjoy watching his shows.

                                                Please stop being silly. :)

                                    2. re: Dee S

                                      I think you nailed the whole controversy right there, Dee S.

                                  2. Points well-taken.

                                    I was trying to get at a bigger subject here, and associate the fact that when we are "fans" of someone, whether a rock star, movie star, or celebrity chef, we give them more leeway when they do cringe-worthy things.

                                    Perhaps if Rachel Ray did a Welch's commercial, the hypothesis would be: "of course she did, she's just in it for the TV fame/money". Whereas if someone seemingly more "credible" as Alton does it, we try to justify and rationalize everything from the script, to the "healthy" aspects of grape juice, to the correlation of the "science-y nature that he delivers the script in the commercial to his TV show. That's all.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Raquel

                                      I don't think anyone doubts Alton Brown did it for the money -- he'd be crazy not to (look at all the "A-list" American actors who shill products in Japan or Europe but not here). I also don't doubt that Alton hasn't been offered Pop-Tarts or Pizza Rolls (not literally, but crap on that level); I just suspect he's being selective. I may well be wrong, and if he shows up doing Hot Pockets next week, my opinion will certainly change.

                                      1. re: Raquel

                                        Maybe if RR didn't already endorse a lot of crap previously than maybe it would have given her credibility but alas, DD =/= grape juice

                                        1. re: Raquel

                                          I don't think Alton would do Burger King et al much good. Most people who go to these places haven't a clue who he is.
                                          If Julia Child should re-appear and do a McCrap's commercial, I still would not go there.

                                          1. re: billieboy

                                            I know you just qualified your statement by saying *most*, but I think that's a pretty elitist attitude/comment, actually. I know who Alton Brown is, and I've dined in some of the best restaurants in the world. And you know what? If ever I get a hankering to eat a burger at McDonald's, I do.

                                            1. re: Raquel

                                              Sorry Raquel. No offense meant. What I meant is that "most" people who patronize these places on a regular basis would not have a clue who AB was and he would not influence them to change from McD's to Burger King.

                                              1. re: billieboy

                                                Billie, no offense personally taken. It's just, sometimes we need to take the shutters off our eyes and realize it's too big a world out there to just paint everyone with one brush....

                                        2. good god...we're still discussing this???? Commercials are damned good money. AB would be downright stupid to turn down the kind of money he's probably being offered for these. I've done a number of commercials over the years paid at union scale and made a boatload of money. I can't even imagine what Alton is pulling down for these things... I say, "go, man..." and make hay while the sun shines.
                                          He is one of the few shining lights left at the Food Network, and one of the only "personalities" there worth watching.
                                          He IS very god at what he does, and very comfortable natural in front of the camera.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: The Professor

                                            Yah, we're still discussing this, cause that's what we do on a Food Board...

                                            I think we're mostly all agreed that we all like Alton alot. Perhaps my original post was to persuade people though, to have more open minds when others do the same thing and not be so quick to judge. Alas, I think my "argument" is falling on deaf ears...or empty pans, as it were. Oh well.

                                            1. re: Raquel

                                              <<Yah, we're still discussing this, cause that's what we do on a Food Board...>>

                                              ouch...touche! LOL
                                              actually it's a fun discussion...I guess I was just surprised both that it was still continuing after 3 months and that some of the posters seem to feel that doing commercials is some sort of evil sellout. Kinda like the discussions on the 'classic rock music' boards on which I participate... Lots of outrage that classic rock songs are turning up more and more in TV commercials, as though they are defiling sacred music. It's all just about making a few bucks...
                                              In any case, the commercials are serving as Alton's long overdue acting gigs, eh wot? I say, "go man.."