McDonald's has spent a lot of money to worm its way into the psycheof your toddlers, to the point that they practically salivate likePavlov's dog at the mere sight of a branded bag.
In fact, food andbeverage companies spend more than ten billion dollars yearly tocreate that very result. So you may as well put all that propagandato work by slipping your healthy snacks into McDonald's packaging.
According to research out of the Stanford University School ofMedicine, preschoolers consistently preferred the taste of food, anyfood, contained in McDonald's packaging over the same food in plainwrapping. This preference extended even to carrots, which are, ofcourse, not offered by McDonald's, and to milk. The childrenactually thought that milk in a McDonald's cup tasted better thanthe same milk in a plain cup.
The study engaged 63 children, ages of three to five years, who wereasked to point to the food that they preferred out of two choices:one in McDonald's packaging and one in plain. Children preferredthe tastes of food and drinks that were supposedly from McDonald'sfour out of five times.
A full third of the preschoolers ate at McDonald's once a week, andthree-quarters of them had a McDonald's toy at home. Only two ofthe 63 children had never eaten at McDonald's. The more TVs thatthey had in their homes and the more often that they ate atMcDonald's, the more likely they were to prefer the foods disguisedas McDonald's.
Because most children under eight years of age don't understand thatads are meant to persuade, they are very vulnerable to suchpropaganda. The fact that advertising actually changes the taste offood for children speaks to how powerful it might be to put somemoney into equally insistent marketing of healthy foods.
Sources: EurekAlert; Archives of Pediatrics and AdolescentMedicine, August 2007