Kids Prefer Food With Cartoon Characters On Them

Fred Flintstone is a hell of a salesman. Back in 1962 he peddled Winston cigarettes (video below fold) and now that obesity is said by some to be a bigger problem than cigarettes, he is pushing sweetened cereals. And he is very effective; a new study published in Pediatrics concludes that " Children significantly preferred the taste of foods that had popular cartoon characters on the packaging, compared with the same foods without characters. " The study's authors suggest that perhaps Fred should get another line of work.

Dana Blankenhorn at Smart Planet notes that Fred is even into video games now, he doesn't miss a trick. But Blankenhorn thinks that it will someday seem as weird to see Fred selling cereal as it does to see him smoking and peddling cigarettes.

$1.6 billion is spent each year to market food to kids; the study used graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks, and baby carrots and the product with the cartoon character was preferred with each food. Some have no problems in marketing food this way, especially if it is the right kind of food; Keith Thomas Ayoob, professor of pediatrics and registered dietitian at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told ehealth:

"It has been shown to be successful that kids would eat a bag of carrots if their favorite character is on it," said Ayoob, who is also a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "It's a tool. I have a hard time thinking these characters should be restricted."

But I am no happier with Fred selling fruit; advertising aimed at children should be banned, and Fred should join Joe Camel in the retirement home.