According to a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, children think foods that have cartoons on the packaging taste better than foods that don’t. Using the same cereal in different boxes, researchers had the kids sample both and rate them on taste. And the kids were duped into liking the cartoon versions more!
Unsurprisingly, “Healthy Bits” was perceived as tasting worse than “Sugar Bits,” and children who ate the cereal with the penguin characters on the box reported liking it better than kids who ate the cereal without them. Now, advertising unhealthy foods to children isn’t necessarily kosher, but why hasn’t the healthy-foods industry capitalized on this research? Just stick a bunch of bright characters on everything, and the kids will like it more — why not give Chiquita Banana some awesome superpowers to entice kids to eat the yellow fruit? Why not create Broccoli Bear, a cartoon figure who loves to eat his greens? Kids are clearly gullible. It’s time for adults in the healthy-foods industry to put their money where their mouths are.