Anything made by McDonald’s tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how marketing can trick the taste buds of young children. Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids when they were wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches. The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald’s foods in name-brand and unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test…. “You see a McDonald’s label and kids start salivating,” said Diane Levin, a childhood development specialist who campaigns against advertising to kids.
If nothing else, I suppose this story proves the efficacy of skillfully crafted and artfully employed advertising campaigns. Through the effective application of hundreds of millions of advertising dollars to American brains each and every year, McDonald’s has created a very profitable niche for itself as the People’s Restaurant, the very soul and essence of American cuisine. Part of the beauty of McDonald’s (if it can reasonably be called that) is that whether you order a Quarter Pounder in Vidor, TX, or Federal Way, WA, or Chantilly, VA, you will be getting EXACTLY the same thing. I suppose there’s something to be said for consistency, but the flip side of consistency is a complete lack of originality.
Then there’s the whole “strawberry milkshake” thing, which really is a metaphor for everything that’s wrong with McDonald’s. If any of y’all ever remember Supersize Me- whether the book or the movie- you’ll recall that a McDonald’s strawberry milkshake is little more than a chemical cocktail with nary a strawberry in sight. Yes, it looks like a strawberry milkshake, and it certainly tastes like one, but you can rest assured that no strawberries were harmed in the making of your shake. WTF??
Apparently, we’ve been marketed and propagandized into believing that McDonald’s is the Alpha and the Omega of American haute cuisine. Combine that with the speed and the consistency of their available menu options, and you have a addictive, unhealthy menu that appeals to American impatience and philistinism when it comes to food. And we’re passing that attitude along to our children in spades. When your child becomes morbidly obese and develops diabetes and heart disease later in life, don’t say you weren’t warned. Your laziness and unwillingness to teach your children about a healthy relationship with food may well doom them to serious health problems down the road…and it may even shorten their lifespan.
Nice going, eh??
The study likely will stir more debate over the movement to restrict ads to kids. It comes less than a month after 11 major food and drink companies, including McDonald’s, announced new curbs on marketing to children under 12.
McDonald’s says the only Happy Meals it will promote to young children will contain fruit and have fewer calories and less fat.
“The fact is, parents make the decisions for their children and our research confirms that we’ve earned their trust as a responsible marketer based on decades of delivering the safest food,” spokesman Walt Riker said.
Man, with the proper skills, you really CAN spin anything, can’t you? McDonald’s, the purveyor of perhaps the worst, most dangerously fattening food on the face of the planet, is presenting themselves as a “responsible marketer” and patting themselves on the back for “delivering the safest food”? Why Riker isn’t working in the White House Press Office is beyond me.
McDonald’s understands one thing and one thing only- PROFIT. The fact that they recognize that there may be a backlash from this study and are moving proactively into immediate damage control only demonstrates just how craven McDonald’s truly is. If you think I’m kidding, sit in a McDonald’s parking lot sometime and watch people as they walk in and out. I did that last week, and I was appalled. A disturbingly large number of patrons didn’t walk into the restaurant, they WADDLED into it. McDonald’s food is neither safe nor healthy, though it IS addictive and affordable.
Parents, if they truly care about their children and the future they face, need to take a long, hard look at the relationship their children are developing with food. When the mere presence of a McDonald’s wrapper gives anything edible the patina of quality and taste, something is very, very wrong. When children grow up thinking that a trip to McDonald’s is a haute cuisine experience, they’re being set up for a lifetime of potential health problems.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I’ve engaged in my own personal boycott of McDonald’s for some time now. I detest the food, and I care too much for my health to subject myself to it. Not only that, if McDonald’s is the best I can do, I’d really rather not eat. I understand that this is a matter of personal preference, and I try not to judge people for eating at McDonald’s. Just don’t come running to me when you have to let your belt out a notch or two…or when your kids are morbidly obese.