Lessons in Marketing: Flour Tortillas vs. Wraps

Read more

Twitter: @AndreaGompf

Sometimes you have to take a break from life’s day to day minutiae to ponder the bigger, deeper questions. Questions like: “Why does the Miss Universe competition only feature contestants from planet Earth?” and “What is the difference between a flour tortilla and a wrap?” Seriously though, this latter question has plagued me for years. Aside from the contents they envelop, it has always seemed pretty clear to me that mass-produced flour tortillas and wraps are the EXACT SAME THING, only one has a name associated with thousands of years of Mexican history, and the other is a term that was invented twenty years ago to market tortillas to Americans. Mission Foods, purveyor of tortilla and wrap products, would seem to agree with my assessment, per their website FAQ:

And yet, reports surfaced last week that this same Mission is selling two identical products that are simply packaged differently: one labeled “wraps,” and the other “tortillas.”

“Y que?” you might be asking yourself right now. Well, writer John Scalzi learned that his package of Mission wraps not only cost 26 cents more than the package of tortillas, it also contained two fewer wraps, making each wrap cost 19 cents more than each tortilla.  PAUSE.

Can we talk about how rude this is? Staggeringly rude. That’s like me calling empanadas “Hot Pockets” and then selling them for $17 a pop. That’s like me cutting some churros in half, calling them “Cinna Stix,” and selling them for one fillion dollars. That’s like if I sprinkled some orange crack dust on a bag of tortilla chips, called them “Doritos,” and then sold them for $42 a bag. Also, while we’re at it: are they chickpeas or garbanzos WHAT GIVES???

I’m not sure what I find more distressing: the fact that Mission can get away with charging different prices on two identical products, or the fact that wraps – frequently used in sentences that also include the dreaded words “low carb” – are somehow perceived to be of higher value than tortillas – frequently used in sentences that also include the words “so delicious” – to American consumers.

Anyone know of any other identical products that can be sold under two different names like this? If so, leave ’em in the comments below.