What’s in a name?

Mr. Tidbit has noticed that increasing age has granted him vastly increasing wisdom, accompanied by vastly increasing ignorance about whatever it is that kids (people younger than he is) are babbling about. He is not surprised, for example, when he has never heard of the pop star who is getting married to another pop star he has never heard of.

But he has maintained a lifelong interest in food and nutrition (he started eating food at an early age), so he is taken aback when he finds himself way out of the loop on some diet-related topic. That’s what happened to him recently when he came upon a supermarket display of a new enhanced-water beverage from Ocean Spray and he couldn’t make anything out of its name: PACt.

The front of the single-serve bottle gave Mr. Tidbit no hint. From it he learned that the drink contains cranberry extract and purified water, that it offers to “cleanse & purify better than water alone” (which he can’t help noting is a very low bar if its purpose is to cleanse and purify) and that it has “the power of 50 cranberries.” All gratifying information, but what the heck does “PACt” signify?

Only on the back of the bottle, under the slogan “Go ahead, make a PACt” did Mr. Tidbit learn what he apparently was supposed to understand already if he was to be sucked into buying a bottle of PACt just from seeing a whole pile of them: PACt is sort of a pun on PACs, short for proanthocyanidins (which Mr. Tidbit learned elsewhere are a subgroup of the plant chemicals called flavonoids).

PACs apparently are Ocean Spray’s candidate to be this year’s “probiotic,” “omega 3” or “sea salt.” The back label tells us that they are “powerful elements found deep inside cranberries” and that a 16-ounce bottle of PACt (four flavors) contains 80 milligrams of PACs from the juice of 50 cranberries “for a tasty way to help cleanse and purify your body every day.”

Mr. Tidbit learned on the Internet that Ocean Spray has for some reason deliberately chosen to be vague about cleansing and purifying, avoiding mentioning what is widely said to be a benefit of cranberry juice: that it might help prevent urinary tract infections. Mr. Tidbit had heard of UTIs.

Al Sicherman