SPICED by John L. Graham


The Global Marketing of Psychoactive Substances
Email this review


A motivational text addresses how certain foods become addictive and problematic.

In his book, international marketing authority and scholar Graham (International Marketing: 17th Edition, 2015, etc.) holds the often deceptive marketing initiatives for certain addictive foods he calls “spices” (“that is, something you don’t need”) directly responsible for their rampant misuse, overreliance, and overconsumption. “Government regulation of these spices is a hodgepodge of path-dependent political decision making that yields destructive consequences for the public health and society in general,” he implores. Urgent in tone, Graham’s guidebook targets a highly addictive grouping of “psychoactive substances” that contain the kind of alluring “hedonic compounds” necessary to ensnare an unknowing public into not only buying them, but also becoming reliant on them to enjoy everyday life. He begins with a declarative chapter on the nature and the machinations of today’s aggressive marketing industry and how it attracts human consumption, causes repetitive consumer purchases, and, with the promotion of cleverly bioengineered chemical compounds, entertains “our brains.” The bulk of his book lies in the dissection of key addictive ingestibles, like salt, sugar, chocolate, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, and their deleterious effects. But potent, controlled drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and opium are also skewered by the outspoken, authoritative author who spares no fact or opinion during his discussion of each. In an impassioned introduction, Graham first writes about his own experience with these consumables. The worst of the lot is perhaps alcohol, which the author notes “nearly killed me as a teenager. Thrice.” Graphs, charts, and sound evidentiary and referential research bolster already worrisome statistics on things like salt intake, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine consumption and compulsion, and their myriad health consequences. He further denounces the marketers, companies, campaigns, and their manipulations of these key ingredients in a particularly conclusive and damning closing section. Graham’s provocative, impeccably researched, and informative book makes powerful declarative statements about the nature of food addictions and the many components that make up how and why people consume what they do. But because Graham is a marketing guru and not a medical professional, his claims and advice for change should be taken in moderation and further investigated by readers and advocates desiring the definitive answers tailored to their own physical conditions.   

A commendable, galvanizing, cautionary plea for increased consumer awareness that should inspire food-driven dialogue and proactive discussion.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5372-8059-2
Page count: 382pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


NonfictionSALT by Mark Kurlansky
by Mark Kurlansky
NonfictionSALT SUGAR FAT by Michael Moss
by Michael Moss
NonfictionTHE CASE AGAINST SUGAR by Gary Taubes
by Gary Taubes