Why junkfood is magically delicious

See if you can follow this simple logic problem.

Kids like cartoons.  Kids like junk food.  Therefore, kids love junk food sold by cartoon characters.

That, essentially, is the finding of a new study published in the latest issue of Pediatrics.  In the study, kids between the ages of four and six were giving two packets of three different kinds of snacks (graham crackers, fruit snacks and carrots).  One set of the packages featured licensed cartoon characters (you know, like SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer).  The second set of snacks did not.

The kids were then asked to eat each of the snacks.  Afterwards, they were asked which one tasted better.  The cartoon festooned graham crackers and gummy snacks won, even though the snacks in each of the packages were exactly the same.  (There  was no difference when it came to carrots.)

So it would seem just like adults are swayed by celebrity endorsements, kids are swayed by cartoons. 

But this is worth noting…even without the cartoons, kids still picked the sugary snacks over the carrots.  I think that points to a bigger problem of nutrition education than marketing.  Nevertheless, I think you’ll soon see an onslaught of cartoons hawking fruits and veggies and whole grains.  (Oh wait.  Disney has already done that.)


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