Everything comes with a label these days.
By law, tobacco companies are not allowed to brand their products to appeal to children. I believe alcohol companies have similar guidelines. These are regulated to discourage children from trying and becoming addicted to things that are not healthy choices. Seems like a pretty solid idea. The consumer should know the risks associated with a product or service.
Now let’s chat about food. Food-like products go be a little more specific.
I can spend hours in a grocery store. I’ll read labels and compare ingredients. The other day while looking at coconut milk, I found these. This atrocity is sold as a “no cooking required” snack, for, you guessed it, kids. With a look at the blue monster-thingy, I’d say younger children. It almost resembles a cross between Sully from Disney’s “Monster’s Inc” and Sesmae Street’s Cookie Monster.
Food-products are branded and packaged to catch our eye and the attention of children. These types of goods are located at a child’s eye-level. The bright coloured boxes with cartoon characters appeal to our little ones. It’s amazing how they can spot these things with so many other brightly coloured packages vying for our attention.
The expiry date on this bag of monster nonsense is 2019. Yes, two years from now. Isn’t that a scary thought? The likely accompaniment for this in a lunch kit would be a drink. Probably a juice-box. Again, read the label. Liquid sugar with the promise of 10% real fruit juice. Some kids may get a can of pop instead, but probably a “diet” pop as it has only one calorie. Gotta watch those calories right?
Food has been engineered to be hyper-palatable. What does that mean? It means sugar, a lot of sugar, sugar in many forms, is in our food in amounts that flip switches in our brains. Things are saltier, greasier and sweeter than anything Mother Nature produces. This triggers a chemical response in the pleasure centre of our brain. We physically crave more. Crunch and mouth-feel are worked and worked until it is just right. We now are teetering on the brink of addiction.
This is legal.
It should be criminal. Our children become innocent addicts through no fault of their own. The role of parent/caregiver becomes increasingly more difficult as we almost require a degree to interpret food labels to understand what we are consuming.
These marketing tactics are no different than the creepy person trying to lure a child into a vehicle with the promise of a candy bar or puppy.