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Cartoons Make You Eat More

We were recently on vacation with Kara’s family — 17 of us, with Ella being the youngest and kids ranging up to 20.  

Needless to say, with all the kids in the house, there were a lot of snack foods, various cereals, etc …

… and one thing that kept jumping out at me was the marketing targeted to kids.  There were Sponge Bob yogurts, Scooby Do gummy treats, and various cartoon covered cereals. 

One of our standard messages has always been "if there’s a cartoon on the box, leave it on the shelf."

Well check this out — the results of this study, done at Yale’s Obesity Research Center, are pretty crazy. 

Kids were asked to taste 3 pairs of identical foods (Graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks, and carrots).  These foods were presented either with or without popular cartoon characters.

The kids were then asked if the foods tasted the same or one tasted better, with the different packaging (remember, the foods they were comparing were the same).  They were also asked which they would prefer to eat for a snack.

What did they find?

Children significantly preferred the taste of foods with cartoon characters on the packaging, compared with the same foods without characters.

Most kids also selected the food sample with the popular cartoon on it for their snack. 

Bottom Line:

We’ll stick with our messaging — if there’s a cartoon on the box, leave it on the shelf. 

Marketing clearly changes what kids (and adults) eat — be smart and don’t fall for the clever tricks and packaging that "make" you buy certain foods!


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4 Responses to Cartoons Make You Eat More

  1. Julie Craig June 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    A twist on this: my friend had a picky eater on her hands, and so she emptied a spice container, peeled off the label, stuck Dora the Explorer stickers all over it, then filled it with a mix of salt and pepper. Suddenly, her picky eater would try (and like!) absolutely ANYTHING that she could put her “Magic Dora Sprinkles” on – even foods that she had previously declared to be yucky. Guess kids have more trust in their favorite characters (who have never made them do chores, taken them to the doctor, told them “No” or enforced bedtimes) than their parents.

  2. Mark June 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    That’s why marketing is such big business. Subliminal advertising starts at an early age. An amazing result.

  3. Trevor June 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    How is this a nail in the coffin? The study supports the notion that marketing changes what kids eat.

    Also, a typo: “with a the”

    • Chris and Kara Mohr June 24, 2010 at 5:07 am #

      Thanks for the insight — made some edits for clarification.

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