Friday, August 15, 2008

The rise of kid-cuisine

I have trouble sleeping (big surprise).  Last night was more difficult than most - I had taken a nap in the middle of the day (mistake #1) and watched the Olympics (mistake #2).  Once I'm up past 12:30am... it's over.  And last night I think I went to bed at around 3:30am.  Ugh.  A major reason for my difficulty in getting to sleep in that thoughts race around in my head at night as soon as I hit the pillow.  One of my sleeping techniques is to listen to a book on tape or podcast - it allows me to focus on something specific.  

So last night I was listening to a podcast from Stanford University featuring Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat.  She was speaking at Stanford as part of a series on Food and Ethics (I believe Michael Pollan was also a guest lecture earlier in the series).  

One part that really interested me was her discussion of the pervasive marketing that food companies do to kids.  But most interestingly was her discussion of the creation of "kid cusine".  Through marketing and branding, kids are given content about products so that they can prod their parents to buy items with reasoned arguments ("It has vitamins and minerals!").  They are drawn to the products with the cool cartoons that are helpfully positioned at eye level.   Kid food is visually different from adult food.  They have fun shapes and unnatural colors (e.g., "pink hearts, yellow moons, green clovers, and purple horseshoes").  This creates the idea that there are fun (crappy) things that kids eat and boring (healthy) things adults eat.  So what ends up happening is that kids become the experts in their diet as they know what is best for them to eat.

This reminded me of my love affair with Cookie Crisp.  I thought,  no scratch that, knew that this cereal was the best food on earth.  Each shopping trip became a battle.  I believed this is what the box looked like when I was growing up:



I even tried to point out that it had "8 vitamins and minerals" but my Mom wasn't having it.  "You're not eating cookies for breakfast," was the constant refrain.*  But check out the box: free baseball cards, smiling cookie wizard (?) spooning out cookies that have been enlarged to show detail out of an overflowing cookie jar, etc.  What kid wouldn't want this?

The new generation box of Cookie Crisp makes even more dubious health claims - "whole grain goodness!"  "100 calories per serving!"  "Calcium!"  and the ever-present "vitamins and minerals!"  But still, as my dear old Mom said, it's frigging cookies for breakfast.



So I ate my Raisin Bran and Cherrios and longed for the day when I grew up and could eat whatever I wanted.


*Last night I had Didi Reese cookies for dinner.  In your face, Mom!  hahahahhaha!

4 comments:

WeezerMonkey said...

For some reason, I recall Cookie Crisp having some Hamburglar-like guy on it.

Ann Marie said...

That was my favorite cereal too. My parents would buy it occasionally, but never often enough for me! Every now and then I pause in front of the box as I'm grocery shopping; I can't bring myself to actually buy and eat it now. One of these days . . .

Trisha said...

Haha! My mom was the same way. The sweetest cereal we got was Honey Nut Cheerios. I had my first bowl of Cocoa Puffs when I was 17 and my mom stopped giving a shit.

sondsuvpeese said...

Actually, cookie crisp is 90 calories less per serving than Raisin Bran, and most likely better for you. =) Raisin bran has a ton of sugar too...