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McDonald's has spent a lot of money to worm its way into the psyche of your toddlers, to the point that they practically salivate like Pavlov's dog at the mere sight of a branded bag.
In fact, food and beverage companies spend more than ten billion dollars yearly to create that very result. So you may as well put all that propaganda to work by slipping your healthy snacks into McDonald's packaging.
According to research out of the Stanford University School of Medicine, preschoolers consistently preferred the taste of food, any food, contained in McDonald's packaging over the same food in plain wrapping. This preference extended even to carrots, which are, of course, not offered by McDonald's, and to milk. The children actually thought that milk in a McDonald's cup tasted better than the same milk in a plain cup.
The study engaged 63 children, ages of three to five years, who were asked to point to the food that they preferred out of two choices: one in McDonald's packaging and one in plain. Children preferred the tastes of food and drinks that were supposedly from McDonald's four out of five times.
A full third of the preschoolers ate at McDonald's once a week, and three-quarters of them had a McDonald's toy at home. Only two of the 63 children had never eaten at McDonald's. The more TVs that they had in their homes and the more often that they ate at McDonald's, the more likely they were to prefer the foods disguised as McDonald's.
Because most children under eight years of age don't understand that ads are meant to persuade, they are very vulnerable to such propaganda. The fact that advertising actually changes the taste of food for children speaks to how powerful it might be to put some money into equally insistent marketing of healthy foods.
Sources: EurekAlert; Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, August 2007
Aug 27, 2007
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