Sunday, March 30, 2014

Volume 9, Number 3: An Open Letter to Dean Foods

To: Dean Foods Customer Service Dept.
From: Mark Rabinowitz
Subject: Melody Farms
Date: March 30, 2014

To whom it may concern:

What, exactly, did you do to Melody Farms?

Melody Farms was a Michigan-owned company for 60 years before Dean Foods bought it four years ago.  I remember them from my childhood and thus considered it to be a brand I trusted for dairy products, especially milk and ice cream.

Yesterday, I came across a special at a local grocery store for Melody Farms’ “frozen dairy dessert” for $1.25 for a 1.75-quart container.  I decided that even though “frozen dairy dessert” is not the same as “ice cream,” I’ve bought products from other companies that had to be called “frozen dairy desserts” because they did not qualify as “ice cream,” and didn’t have any serious issues with them.  Furthermore, Melody Farms, as I’ve said, is a brand I remember favorably from my childhood, so I felt that I couldn’t go wrong.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  What I had was almost tasteless with no creamy texture.  As a matter of fact, the “cookies & cream” variety had much more of a gritty texture.

I wondered just what I had bought, at which point I did something I should have done way back at the store, which was read the ingredients.

First ingredient: Not milk. WATER.

I was shocked.  Last time I checked, water was never a dairy product, and never will be.

I realize that Dean Foods owns a number of different ice cream brands here in Michigan—Dean’s, Country Fresh, Stroh’s, and Sanders as well as Melody Farms.  Having worked in market research in the past, I imagine that after acquiring Stroh’s, Sanders and Melody Farms, your marketing executives wanted to position each brand differently, and perhaps those executives decided that Melody Farms should be the brand for cheaper “frozen dairy desserts”.  Even if my suppositions are wrong, at least they make sense.

What I don’t get is what I had for dessert earlier today.  A “frozen dairy dessert” whose first ingredient is not a dairy product—that doesn’t make sense.  I would call that disappointing.

In closing, I want you to re-evaluate the recipes you are using for all Melody Farms “frozen dairy desserts”.  I would prefer that my last memory of Melody Farms be something better.  I understand that there will be a market for people who wish to save money by buying a “frozen dairy dessert” instead of a more expensive ice cream.  That does not give Dean Foods the right to serve anything that is extremely disrespectful to older Michigan consumers’ memories of—and trust in—Melody Farms products, and definitely not worthy of being called “frozen dairy desserts”.

Thank you in advance for your time and due consideration.

Sincerely,

Mark Rabinowitz

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Volume 9, Number 2: Cold Car Crazy, Revisited

A few weeks ago, my 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix was driving me up the wall. With the problems listed below, which I did not mention in my previous blog entry, I was seriously considering buying a newer car. However, it turned out these problems were easy or cheap to fix (and three of them were more my fault than the car's).

  1. The windows kept getting frosted on the inside--turns out that the problem was never the weatherstripping; it was me tracking snow and other moisture into the car; that moisture would ultimately evaporate, only to be trapped inside the car. Removing the driver's side front floor mat and bringing it into the house to dry seems to have helped.
  2. The driver's side window wasn't rolling down--that was related to the moisture problem (#2 above). The same moisture that was frosting up my windows on the inside, was also freezing the windows to the weatherstripping on the door. Using a blow dryer on the window worked, and I rubbed some de-icer on the edges of the window and on the weatherstripping in an effort to help prevent this problem from ever happening again.
  3. On Super Bowl Sunday, I had trouble removing a burned-out bulb from one of my tail lights because--get this--tons of moisture had gotten into the tail light and turned to ice, so I had to resort to using a blow dryer to melt enough ice to get the bulb out. The cause is that the seal on that tail light had been compromised (it's a common problem with this car, from what I've read).
  4. The washer fluid wasn't coming out when I needed it--that problem was also my fault. I had some cheap Slug-A-Bug washer fluid that froze up in 32° Fahrenheit or lower. Siphoning out that fluid (something that I could not do until temperatures got above 32°) and replacing it with a better fluid (the kind that works down to -30° F) seems to have done the trick.
  5. On top of all that, my car was having trouble starting, but that was due to a battery that was four years old and was no longer holding a charge; replacing that was inexpensive and effective (not to mention a no-brainer).

Now that I've conquered these issues, I am no longer debating buying another car. On the contrary, I've re-dedicated myself to keeping my Grand Prix going as long as possible. I've already lined up a few repair projects that I'll tackle when the weather gets warmer:

  1. The fuel filler door is being a real pain in the neck to open and close (this is another common problem with the 1997-2003 Grand Prix; I'd like to either fix the hinge on it, which is faulty, maybe because the hinge pins are rusted, or replace the door if it comes down to that)
  2. The driver's side molding rail needs to be replaced (that's a piece of metal that supports the plastic molding that goes over the rocker panel; without it, the molding sags like a clothesline, and that's just what happens when the rail turns to rust).  I've already had experience with this repair because I replaced the same rail on the passenger side four years ago.
  3. I'm going to see if I can use some silicone adhesive to restore the seal on the right tail light so water doesn't get into it again.  The way I see it, I've got nothing to lose in trying this--if it works, it'll save me from having to buy a replacement tail light on eBay or from a junkyard, and if it doesn't, at least I'll still have eBay and junkyards to fall back on.