But ice cream DOES make you happy.
That's the message customers passed to a Maunu dairy after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against an advertisement making exactly that claim.
The sign reading "Ice Cream Makes U Happy" was on the storefront of the Tui Crescent Food Market for over six years without raising concerns, owner Nimesh Shah said.
Then it made national - and even some international - headlines after the Authority ruled it breached advertising codes following a complaint from a Whangarei resident.
Shah said publication of the decision - which has made waves across the country - had led to a stream of positive feedback from the community.
"We had many customers coming in and telling us that ice cream makes them happy," Shah said.
"Someone came to buy ice cream and then took a selfie with the sign to post it online."
Shah said the dairy hadn't installed the sign initially but he had since taken it down as "a responsible community member".
The ice cream advertising campaign came from Unilever Australasia, which installed signs in a handful of stores across the country.
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A copy of the Authority's decision, obtained by the Advocate, names the complainant as "E Fowler" of Whangarei.
The decision contains details of the complaint, which stated Unilever's sign would "undermine the health and wellbeing of children and adults by promoting an unhealthy relationship with food".
"Foods should not be advertised as way to improve peoples mood. Ice cream is a food that is high in fat and sugar. Eating ice cream to make yourself happy is damaging to ones health," read the complaint.
The complainant told the Authority they walked past the sign every day and it could trigger children to falsely believing the happiness slogan had a scientific basis.
The Authority was told there was a primary and high school about a kilometre away.
"School children and their families stop at the dairy before and after school regularly. School children walk pass the shop before and after school. Due to the placement of the advertisement a large number of children and adults are exposed to it regularly."
It gave a message that was "extremely irresponsible especially given the obesity and mental health problems we as a country are facing".
The Authority, which set standards for responsible advertising in New Zealand, upheld the complaint on the grounds that the sign implied a link between ice cream and happiness.
Unilever has appealed the ASA ruling. A spokesperson said in a statement: "We acknowledge how important it is for New Zealanders to eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and to look after their mental wellbeing. Unilever is committed to promoting mental and physical health."
Unilever said it was not targeting children and the slogan should be seen as "a puffery statement" similar to the slogan "Red Bull gives you wings".
It said: "Consumers will not expect that the product will lead to an improvement of their physical abilities or that the statement is supported by any scientific evidence."
Kath Fouhy, general manager at Dieticians New Zealand, said ice cream was a treat food that was nutrition deficient and energy-dense.
She said ice cream shouldn't be eaten daily, especially considering obesity rates in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Health Survey 2017/18 found that one in three adults and 12 per cent of children aged 2–14 classify as obese. A recent Unicef survey ranked New Zealand as second-worst for child obesity in the OECD, with 39 per cent of children aged 5–19 overweight.
"The obesity rates indicate that New Zealanders, on the whole, are consuming more energy than they are spending," Fouhy said.
She pointed out that diet had a massive physiological and psychological impact on our mental health.
"There's evidence that a healthy diet with whole foods – like whole grains and vegetables – have an important role to play in the mental health of people," said Fouhy.
Fouhy said nutrition-deficient, highly processed foods can have detrimental effects on mental health.
"I don't think ice cream makes people happy."
Ice cream did contain sugar, which stimulated the same parts of the brain as tobacco and other addictive substances, and people tended to link such foods to pleasure.
Unilever's case to the Authority didn't appear to make reference to a 2005 study it funded in which neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London scanned the brains of people eating vanilla ice cream.
The study found ice cream had an immediate effect on parts of the brain known to activate when people enjoy themselves.
Related complains to the Advertising Standards Authority
Slogan: "Good Mood Food"
Product: Ice cream, doughnuts and other food
Complaint: Objected "unhealthy, high sugar foods" portrayed as able to improve the mood when "such food can actually result in negative health effects".
Ruling: There were no health claims so no breach. A minority decision disputed this.
Slogan: "The struggle is now over to find the perfect breakfast"
Advertiser: Cookie Time
Complaint: The advert "undermines the health and well-being of individuals, normalising the idea of eating cookies for breakfast".
Ruling: "A bowl of biscuits and milk is not a healthy breakfast option" The complaint was upheld.