"McBrainwashed." That's what the Chicago Sun Times headlined its story about the new scientific research which found that the power of marketing has preschoolers believing that anything made by McDonald's tastes better.
The study, conducted on low income 3, 4 and 5 year olds in San Mateo County and published in this month's Archives for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that foods presented to them in McDonald's wrappers - including carrots, apples and hamburgers - won out continually in taste tests over the same exact foods offered to them unwrapped.
The kids' perception of taste was "physically altered by the branding," according to study author Dr. Tom Robinson.
But while many parents and other child advocates are probably seeing this news as yet another reason to string Ronald McDonald up at the nearest Golden Arch, I'm seeing it as something quite different: a new weapon in the old parenting arsenal.
Call it the McPicky Eater Solution: how parents can use the marketer's power of persuasion to solve the age old problem of getting their kids to eat what's good for them.
Start stocking up now on Happy Meal bags, those paper pocket things that usually hold fries, and any carton or covering which wraps up a Big Mac or even a plain cheeseburger. Because they can be re-used and re-served to youngsters to feed them McBroccoli, a Quarter Pounder Salmon fillet with asparagus, and don't forget the Carrot Fingers.
It's time we parents stop complaining about all the influence advertising has on our kids -- and start using some of those clever marketing techniques ourselves. By the time they're old enough to realize they've been duped into eating fruits and veggies -- our kids may actually like them.
So thank you McDonald's for teaching an old parent a new trick. But here's a tip for McDonald's from a health conscious parent: since we don't buy your food anymore, you may want to consider just selling your packaging, bags and wrappers. It could be a whole new profit center.
Do you have picky eaters in your house? What are some of your personal marketing "tricks" to get them to eat the right stuff? Click below on "Comments" and share you stories, thoughts and tricks.