Schools Put Carrot-Only Vending Machines In Cafeteria

Students at two high schools — one in Cincinnati, OH, the other in Syracuse, NY — are guinea pigs for a new program that’s trying to change the way young people look at veggies, by marketing and selling carrots like they’re junk food.

The school each recently installed vending machines in their cafeterias that only sell 3-oz. bags of baby carrots for fifty cents a bag. The bags themselves (see above photo) are designed to look more like the packaging you’d see for foods like potato chips.

Says the Asst. Principal of the Ohio school of the students’ response to the new venture:

They responded right away… I don’t think the carrots had been in there a full hour before students started buying some of them.

One of the things I wanted to get out of it was an educational component. We got our entrepreneur classes involved. They’re actually competing against each other. There are three groups coming up with three ad campaigns to see who sells the most carrots.

The carrots aren’t just on sale during lunch hours, but at all hours of the day.

During the two-month test period for these vending machines, all the proceeds from the sales of the carrots go to the schools. California-based A Bunch Of Carrot Farmers, the group behind the carrot campaign, will also be paying for the utilities bills associated with the machines.

It’s unclear what’s going to happen at the end of the two months, but the carrot folks are hoping it goes beyond just being an experiment:

Our absolute intent would be to expand it to more schools… We’re all grappling with the same thing, how to help kids have healthier diets, especially during snack time.

In addition to the school vending machines, these snazzily packaged carrots are being sold at stores like Kroger, Meijer and Walmart.

Mason puts vending machine carrots to test [Cincinnati.com]

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I think what we can take away from this is that kids get HUNGRY during the day. Amazing concept!

    But until now, there only vending options were junk food.

    • DariusC says:

      Exactly, this hardly proves that they are submitting to the crazy advertising like candy does, this proves that kids get hungry during the day and will eat anything available, even carrots.

      Science, huh?

    • Difdi says:

      Problem is, carrots are not exactly filling. And at $0.50 for 3oz, they’d be way too expensive to actually fill up on.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Neither are chips. I’d buy two bags when I was in school. At 50 cents a pop, I think I’d buy three of these and the nutritional value is still way better than a bag of chips. I think this would work. Throw on some flavors- make some spicy with a little cayenne or something and you’ve got a real chance here. I’m pretty sure the ranch flavoring on chips is low calorie enough to provide a much better alternative than the dressing itself.

      • Conformist138 says:

        A candy bar is only “filling” if you consider mild queasiness to be “full”

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Maybe they think “baby carrots” is new slang for “cheese doodles” since that’s what they look like in that packaging.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      That’s so funny you should say that. One of the billboards I’ve seen says something about how you can’t juice a cheese doodle.

  3. Daverson says:

    …The carrot folks are hoping it goes beyond just an experiment:

    “Our absolute intent would be to expand it to more schools… We’re all grappling with the same thing, how to sell more of these fucking orange bastards.”

    Fixed that quote for you, carrot folks.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    I want the ones that come with a side of nacho dip.

    • FatLynn says:

      Well put.

      Seriously, though, a small cup of salsa could be made to be healthy.

      • Blueberry Scone says:

        No kidding. For another tasty and healthy treat, they could sell pita bread and hummus, or celery sticks and peanut butter.

        I think the kids are eating the snacks because it’s the only snack they can buy. That’s the thing with offering only healthy food in school – if kids are hungry enough, most probably will eat the veggies and fruit.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Just like I said above!

          This should be the norm: forcing only healthy choices for snacks for kids at schools.

          Why? Obviously, unhealthy junk food is only good in moderation. But, the added benefit of having only healthy foods at school is that the kids then get into a habit of eating healthy snacks. And many of us realize that having healthy habits is what keeps people from becoming overweight and unhealthy.

          • leprechaunshawn says:

            If you’re “forcing only healthy choices for snacks for kids at schools”, then that really isn’t a choice, is it? You’re actually taking away the opportunity to choose what to eat for everybody in the building.

            • Chaosium says:

              “then that really isn’t a choice, is it? You’re actually taking away the opportunity to choose what to eat for everybody in the building.”

              Sure, yes. That’s perfectly fine, the “Free market” doesn’t give two craps about obesity, it encourages it. You can be a loyal, profitable customer for countless decades before you die.

        • Rommel says:

          I have noticed this. I am really hungry by the time lunch comes around. Several times, I´ve been presented with the option of pizza, carrots, and yogurt; pizza, carrots, and fries; or pizza, yogurt, and fries.

          I just wish they’d give us more options. I don’t care if they are all “healthy,” just a bit more choice other than carrots, yogurt, and fries.

      • ConsumerPop says:

        Hummus!

  5. Rocket says:

    I like baby carrots. They are good in peanut butter :-D

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Yes, and low-fat ranch dip, and even maple syrup! I got a picky kid to eat them by doing the peanut butter thing.

      Steam them and put a tiny bit of butter and lemon on them. Is DELICIOUS.

      • webweazel says:

        “Steam them and put a tiny bit of butter and lemon on them”

        Try drizzling on a little bit of orange juice instead of the lemon. Out of this world.

  6. hotdogsunrise says:

    I wonder if that’s why there are so many billboards around Syracuse about baby carrots. They are pretty amusing.

  7. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    I still like a little (fattening, unhealthy) ranch dressing with raw carrots…

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I think veggies with ranch dressing is still a much better alternative to food with zero nutritional value at all.

  8. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Newsflash…if the only snack food available is carrots, they will buy carrots – the “study” won’t prove anything other than kids tend to have a proclivity to eating once in a while.

    Also, kids may be gullible, but they’re not as stupid as “experiments” like this tend to suggest. Just because you put carrots in junk-food like packaging, you can’t expect that kids are going to go “oh look, carrots must be junk food, therefore I will eat them in mass quantities!!!1!one”

    This whole thing is a charade unless there is a vending machine right next to the carrot machine that is selling traditional snack foods too. Then you can get a useful statistic. If not, this is a totally meaningless exercise.

    • Bativac says:

      I agree. Try a nondescript machine with very plainly packaged junk food – cheese puffs in a plain white bag with no window and black Arial font lettering that says “CHEESE-FLAVORED CORN PUFFS.” Do the same with flavored potato chips and candy bars.

      If you can only eat carrots, then only carrots will be eaten.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      A charade? They aren’t conducting an experiment on these kids, they just wanted to see if given no other option, these kids would actually buy vegetables to snack on. Who cares if the only reason they eat it is because it’s the only thing available? They SHOULD only have healthy options available.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Of course they’re going to buy them if there is no other option…THERE’S NO OTHER OPTION.

        It’s like Saddam Hussein declaring that he got 100% of the vote when he was the only person listed on the ballots.

        It means absolutely nothing. NOTHING.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Also, if I could reach you up there on your high horse, I’d give you a little slap…”they should only have healthy options.”

        There’s nothing inherently unhealthy about an occasional bag of chips. My high school had “junk food” vending machines when I was growing up, and guess what – during high school I was right at, if not a bit under, my target weight – as was virtually everyone else in my school. And today, 20+ years later, I’m a bit overwieght according to BMI, but not bad – 5’9″ and a smidge, ~200 pounds.

        The moral of the story being that having “junk food” available in school is not a primary cause for concern. Especially considering that the kids are, you know, IN SCHOOL – which is to say, the vast majority of the day they are in class…they’re not sitting around in the cafeteria all day long eating junk food because they have nothing but free time on their hands.

        There’s not enough time to buy a bag of chips and eat them between classes – you might buy a candy bar to go with your lunch, or maybe grab something after school to eat on the bus home, or before football practice, or whatever…but vending machines in schools are categorically not a primary problem for kids’ health.

  9. phira says:

    While I think this is a cool idea, I think it’s a bad idea for the vending machines to ONLY contain carrots. I know I can’t be the only person on the planet who’s allergic to raw carrots …

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      Whoa, you’re allergic to carrots?

      (Not being weirdly skeptical or assholish or anything- it’s just a completely new allergy to me.)

  10. moderndemagogue says:

    This is not a study by any means. This is a very calculated marketing strategy by Crispin Porter (the same guys that do Burger King). See babycarrots.com and do some research on various ad industry blogs.

    I’m actually curious if you guys were forwarded this by a PR firm of some sort once they got it onto Cincinatti.com — this is an attempt to grow the market for baby carrots by $1 billion over the next few years, and I’m surprised that it was somehow newsworthy to them.

    Very savvy in my mind.

  11. Alter_ego says:

    Man, this would have annoyed me in school. I’m allergic to carrots. Not that I would have wanted them banned or anything, but why all one vegetable?

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      “California-based A Bunch Of Carrot Farmers, the group behind the carrot campaign, will also be paying for the utilities bills associated with the machines.”

      But yeah, celery sticks, maybe some apple slices, would be nice.

  12. AllanG54 says:

    Considering I can get a pound bag for 99 cents I’m thinking 50 cents for 3 ounces is a little more than $5 a pound. I wonder if they’re making enough profit on this.

  13. Angus99 says:

    I’m guessing that there’s some way that baby carrots can get you high, as the logical explanation.

  14. Tim says:

    A Bunch Of Carrot Farmers

    Nomination for Best Special Interest Group Name Ever award.

  15. bobosgirl says:

    I love this- I would much rather my 17 year old eat these than Doritos. All my girls love carrots, so I’d actually dole out the quarters if our high school had these!

    • j_rose says:

      Why don’t you just pack them a bag of carrots to take to school every day then? Much cheaper and you could do it, oh, now?

      • bobosgirl says:

        I pack carrots every day almost for my 10 year old, but my 17 year old buys lunch ( her money, her prerogative) so I don’t get a chance to do that for her.

        Thanks for your snotty and unwelcome opinion, though!!

  16. PLATTWORX says:

    The price is crazy when you do the math. However, it’s probably a good idea. I just wish they offered something else. There are people (like me) who just happen to not care for carrots. How about an alternative??

  17. teke367 says:

    Wow, those carrots to the left in the photo are.., um, extreme?

    • mikehtiger says:

      On a scale of one to ten with one being not so extreme to ten being extremely extreme I give these a 9.5!!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. evnmorlo says:

    Large carrots usually taste a lot better. Having them skinned also seems unnecessary. Uh.. that’s what she said!

  19. dolemite says:

    I’m betting they bought them right away, because they thought they were processed in some way to make them palatable, or they thought they were buying cheetohs or something. I can almost guarantee they have very few repeat customers. My wife packed baby carrots in my lunch, along with a sandwhich and chips. I had to force myself to choke them down.

  20. Battlehork says:

    The Guitar Hero font will get people to buy anything.

  21. kingofmars says:

    Have you seen the ad campign for baby carrots? I’m on my iPhone so it’s too difficult to post the videos, but look them up on YouTube. They are pretty funny.

  22. Jedana says:

    My kids would be happy with these. They actually like their vegetables…my 6 year old loves French onion soup more than chicken noodle!

  23. dosdelon says:

    They are likely paying as much or more for 3 oz. of veggies than a bag full of them would cost at a grocery store…

  24. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Reminds me of that SNL commercial with the fast food place that basically only sells lettuce and mayo. Anyone have the complete info? I’ve looked for it before and couldn’t find it. :(

    (full disclosure, last looked for it two years ago, can’t look now from work.)

  25. 333 (only half evil) says:

    My niece is in one of the entrepreneur classes in the Ohio school. They are having fun coming up with slogans to sell the carrots. She hasn’t bought any herself because she doesn’t like carrots.

  26. psm321 says:

    Eating carrots right now :)

  27. TheGreySpectre says:

    I would have bought carrets, generally I was buying stuff from vending machines because I was hungry. I wish there were carrots in the vending machine when I was in high school. I odn’t really care how the packaging looks.

    • dolemite says:

      You aren’t missing much. You could eat like 2 lbs of carrots and you are still going to be hungry in 2 hours. Just like celery, they are mostly just fiber and water, and not very satisfying.

      That’s the thing people don’t understand about fats/sugars…they actually activate hormones in your body that tell you that you are full.

      • qualia says:

        Right, but you can also eat a baggie of cheez doodles and be hungry in 2 hours if you’re a kid. So carrots still win.

  28. RogueWarrior65 says:

    “I never saw anyone with an orange face before.”

  29. RogueWarrior65 says:

    I think this is going to go down in flames because it’s a perishable product. Pretty much everything in a vending machine can stay there for weeks or months. In addition to that, the machine has to be refrigerated so the cost to run it will be much higher than a regular machine.

    • dg says:

      The vending machine operator doesn’t really care about the cost to cool the machine. Generally when they get a concession – they cut back some percentage of the revenues to the location owner, and the location owner pays for the utilities to operate the machine.

      All the vending machine company has to do is keep the machines loaded with stuff. It’ll take a week or two to figure out the sales volume, then they can figure out how much to put into the machines. For that time period, they generally pay a lower commission to compensate them for the loss of product.

      Candy bars in a vending machine costs $0.20 each or less for the item, then there’s the cost of the labor to fill the machine, extract and count the money, deliver the items to the machine , and procure the goods. Figure $0.30 to $0.40 each for the $0.20 item. They mark it up to $1.00 or more, so they’re making a very nice profit.

      On the carrots – I’d suspect that they’re slightly more expensive than the candy bars – but not much. Everything destined for a vending machine is typically quite inexpensive compared to what they charge for it. You can save a lot of money by just buying in bulk, packing up into small quantities, and bringing it with you everyday vs. purchasing from a vendo machine…

  30. dg says:

    I saw this and for some reason Fast Times at Ridgemont High came to mind…

  31. Razor512 says:

    Way overpriced like everything from vending machines. I don’t understand why they charge so much for vending machine items. A vending machine is cheaper to run and yet they charge many times above retail for the items.

    The problem with this also is that it will only spread to schools where most of the students are stupid because you have to be stupid to spend 50 cents for 3oz of carrots.

  32. Emily says:

    Needs hummus.

  33. JR-13 says:

    What’s going to stop these kids from loading up on shitty food before getting there? There were no vending machines in my school, so that’s what everyone did.

  34. mulch says:

    This will lead to widespread carrot addiction
    http://www.salon.com/health/col/roac/2000/01/28/carrots/print.html

  35. Dre' says:

    Baby carrots are yummy. They should give broccoli florets a try too.

  36. stegosaurus1 says:

    Quick question…why don’t kids just bring their own bars-o-goodness to school (like I did?).

    Anyone remember Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy ;)

  37. Chaosium says:

    Just like tomacco.