Zoinks! Media Shocked by Study Showing Kids Prefer Cartoon-Endorsed Products

It didn’t take Velma, Shaggy or Scooby to uncover this mystery.

In a June 21 study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers from Yale University “discovered” that food products with characters on them affect children’s taste preferences, which may explain why food companies have been advertising with cartoons since at least the 1960’s.

CNN.com and USA Today used the study to promote advertising restrictions and victimize consumers:

“Characters from TV and movies have appeared on food products for years, but until now little research has been done to examine how they influence children's food choices,” Sarah Klein wrote on CNN.com.

Additionally, Klein chose to present the data from the study that best reflected her cause:

“Fifty percent of children say that food from a package decorated with a cartoon celebrity such as Shrek tastes better than the same exact food from a plain package, according to a new study.”

While 50 percent is significant, this means that 50 percent of the children in the study either did not notice a taste difference or found the other package to taste better.

Not to be outdone, USA Today quoted media favorite Margo Wootan of the liberal Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), who claimed that parents and children are “outgunned” by the food companies:

“’Parents are outgunned by the food industry, which has market research, cartoon characters and slick ads,” Wootan said. “We don't have Shrek, SpongeBob and the Disney princesses to get our kids to eat the foods that we want them to eat.’”

While children may be attracted to products with character labels, the media are attracted to CSPI’s Big Government approach to food, whether it’s cereal or school lunches. At the very least, CNN and USA Today are consistent with the media trend of failing to hold parents accountable, and even if they do mention parents, they’re usually portrayed as victims of the corporations.  

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