Let's Ask Marion: Are Disney Eggs Just Ducky, Or Plain Daffy?

(With a click of her mouse, EatingLiberally’s kat corners Dr. Marion Nestle, NYU professor of nutrition and author of Pet Food Politics, What to Eat and Food Politics:)

Kat: So now Disney is marketing its own eggs. I'm fond of duck eggs from the farmers' market, but eggs stamped with Daffy Duck's likeness? Not so much. As Obama Foodorama noted the other day, the USDA and Disney have partnered to promote healthy eating even as Disney Hannah Montana Peanut Chocolate Bars have been caught up in the salmonella recall. Is there a legitimate role for corporate cartoon characters in the campaign to change the way America eats?

Dr. Nestle: Another example of corporate social responsibility in action! Of course food companies want cartoons on their packages. They are a clear signal to kids that these foods are intended just for them--“kids’ foods.” The idea is to make kids think that they are only supposed to eat kids’ food and that they know more about what they are supposed to eat than their parents do.

I first encountered the cartoon problem in 2006 when Nickelodeon, in a burst of corporate responsibility, put SpongeBob on “baby” carrots. This was supposed to induce kids to eat their veggies.

I was skeptical. Nickelodeon was still putting SpongeBob on loads of junky food products. This would surely confuse kids or make them cynical about carrots.

When did it become necessary to put cartoons on foods anyway? Food is food and entertainment is entertainment and I don’t see why they have to be mixed. If food is nourishing and well prepared, it is entertainment enough and doesn’t need cartoons to entice kids to eat. I say, let’s get rid of cartoons on all foods and let food be food.

But when I said something like this at a meeting of food company executives a few years ago, a representative of the Grocery Manufacturers Association held up a carton of milk with a cartoon cow on it and said, “See. If you did what she said, kids wouldn’t be allowed to drink milk.” OK, but kids will drink milk whether it has cartoons on the package or not. I vote for a boycott of kids’ foods with cartoons on the package!

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I agree as well. It's

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I agree with Marion Nestle

I agree with Marion Nestle 100%: cartoon characters do not belong on food. Parents don't need to buy special food for kids that has been licensed by entertainment companies (especially since much of the "food" is over processed and filled with additives). By blurring the lines between entertainment and food, companies like Disney and Nickelodeon are trying to insinuate themselves into every aspect of our children's lives. It's up to us as parents and consumers to make smart decisions with regard to nutrition.

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