Images via screengrab/Starkist

This afternoon, while browsing People.com/food as I am wont to do when the rest of the internet bores me, I noticed the “most popular” story on the site was about what Fuller House star Candace Cameron Bure eats to stay healthy, and what she eats she wants to indulge. I know this because the headline was “What Candace Cameron Bure Eats to Stay Healthy – and When She Wants to Indulge.

Though I’m not the kind of person who would ever be interested in what Candace Cameron Bure eats to stay healthy or when she wants to indulge, I clicked the story anyway, which means—whoops!—I was lying, and that I am exactly the kind of person.

The first thing I noticed after arriving on the story (apart from the fact that I am, in fact, a piece of garbage whose appetite for celebrity content is insatiable and indiscriminate) was that the thumbnail was a cropped image of Bure eating (or at least holding) StarKist tuna on what looks like a slice of tomato, while seated in front of a platter filled with even more servings of the snack. In addition to the tomato slices (or were they cheese or ham?), leaves of escarole or frisée were used as vehicles for the far-too-large globs of the mercury-filled chicken of the sea. The point is, this looked like a promotional image for StarKist, photographed inside the StarKist test kitchens, by Charlie the StarKist tuna himself. And still, I read on.

“Candace Cameron Bure’s approach to eating well revolves around a sensible, achievable diet—with the occasional exceptions, of course,” the author begins. What a lede! I’m already hooked.

Next comes this quote:

“The majority of what I eat is plant-based and whole grains. If I do eat a meat protein, it’s from fish,” the actress, who is a spokesperson for Starkist, told PEOPLE at an event for the tuna company.

And later:

When she does need to whip something up, her partnership with Starkist comes in handy. “I grew up on tuna sandwiches and now I make tuna sandwiches for my kids. There are all these yummy flavors that they make now.”

Here’s what makes me suspicious:

  1. I find it hard to believe that an item about Candace Cameron Bure would be “most popular” story on People.com/food on the same day there are stories about both Girl Scout cookies and the Gaineses. Sorry, but our girl Candace can’t compete with either of those things. Paid placement perhaps?
  2. Why’d they choose a photo of her eating StarKist as the main image?
  3. Why is the first description of Candace Cameron Bure “StarKist spokesperson” and not, oh, “Fuller House star” or “The View co-host”?
  4. Why is my main takeaway from this story that StarKist tuna can be part of a sensible, achievable diet filled with yummy flavors?

Having said that, it’s entirely possible that this isn’t sponsored content at all. Perhaps Bure’s publicist simply told People that mentioning StarKist was part of the deal if she was to be interviewed. Additionally, the writer’s failure to properly stylize StarKist with that capital K does suggest to me that StarKist or its representatives—if in fact this was a sponsored post—was not granted final approval on the copy. Brands would have been all over that.

But enough ranting. What do you think—is this an ad or what?