Your Kids Think Food Tastes Better When It Has A Cartoon On The Box

Researchers from Yale University announced today that kids think food tastes better when its marketed with a cartoon. They asked 40 kids to try some gummy fruit snacks, graham crackers and baby carrots.

One bite came from a unmarked package and the other from one with Dora the Explorer, Shrek or a Scooby Doo on it. Despite the fact that the food was the same, the kids consistently said the one with the cartoon character tasted better.

Oddly the effect was more pronounced on foods like graham crackers and less so on carrots.

From ABCNews:

But researchers were surprised to find cartoons didn’t have as much of an effect on the children’s taste for carrots. Only 50 percent of children thought carrots tasted better from a cartoon-decorated package.

“Overall we expected to see more,” said Roberto.

A carrot is a carrot, we suppose.

Influence of Licensed Characters on Children’s Taste and Snack Preferences [Pediatrics]
Kids Think Food Tastes Better From Cartooned Packages [ABCNews]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Now with more placebo!

  2. dreamfish says:

    Sad, but if it gets them eating their greens it can only be a good thing.

  3. Alvis says:

    And food tastes better on a nice plate than in fast food packaging, yes.

  4. rpm773 says:

    That’s odd. When I see food marketed to kids with cartoons on the packaging, I assume it’s going to taste like rubbish.

  5. smo0 says:

    I liked reading the studies on colors and how they affect our moods.
    Brighter colors like orange and yellow tend to stimulate hunger. Maybe it’s a mixture of a friendly cartoon face drawn with bright colors.
    Put a cartoon with deep crimson, black and grey colors – you may not get the same result.

  6. Polish Engineer says:

    Wow… kids are susceptible to branding? Shocker.

    Now excuse me while I go buy my marked up name brand headache meds instead of the generic with the same ingredients.

    • Southern says:

      The same psycology works on adults, too. Just check out Penn & Tellers “Fast Food” episode from a few nights ago.

      People who though they were eating soup from an “expensive bistro” thought it tasted better than anything they ever tasted, yet it was made by KFC.

      They took 2 halves of the same banana, told everyone that one of them was “organic” and the other wasn’t, and everyone thought the “organic” one tasted better.. etc..

      It’s all psycological.

  7. NickelMD says:

    And this is different from parents making faces on desired foods because….? I was coaxed into eating my first broccoli when my grandma made a little broccoli forest in my mashed potatoes. And Popeye is the reason I am a spinach eater to this day.

    If it looks better, we think it tastes better. And to kids, Dora looks awesome. So carrots that she’s on must be better.

  8. lehrdude says:

    Personally, I only eat shark-fin if there is a picture of Jabberjaw on the package…

  9. Draygonia says:

    Well this is news! Apparently kids aren’t as smart as their parents think they are!

  10. colorisnteverything says:

    We didn’t have a choice when we were kids. Mom got all our staples at Aldi and the only cereals I were allowed were healthy ones. My favorite cereal is still Quaker Oat Squares. Everything was a generic, so I never understood why my friends would only eat their Barney fruit snacks or whatever. We just had knock off dinos and sharks!

  11. jackinthegreen11 says:

    A good example is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese- Its not that I like the Cartoon macaroni shapes because they “taste better.” I like them because theres more places for the lab created cheese sauce to hide.

  12. ScarletsWalk says:

    For me, this is a great thing. My kid doesn’t eat and is underweight and so every calorie counts. I got a box of Toy Story Kraft Mac& cheese. Instead of ignoring it like every other time I make mac & cheese (and I’ve made it every possible way), she ate 2 servings. This also works on all kinds of food, but that was the biggest surprise for me.

    • AnthonyC says:

      For Mac and Cheese in particular, see jackinthegreen11’s comment just above yours.
      Shapes genuinely do taste better, because they hold more cheese sauce per noodle.

    • Snoofin says:

      What happened to making kids sit at the table until they clean their plate regardless of what time it was or how cold the food got. It always got me to eat as a kid and everyone else I know it worked for too.

      • ScarletsWalk says:

        That’s a fantastic idea. I’ll make a child too small to understand stay seated for hours just to make a point.

  13. yessongs says:

    Maybe if they put pictures of supermodels or centerfold models on adult food we would buy it.

  14. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    Kind of like when people insist that organic fruits and vegetables taste better – and then you put them side by side with non-organic in a blind taste test and the majority of people pick the non-organic to be tastier.

  15. MaxPower says:

    This is why I only buy fun shaped fruit snacks.