Branded at an early age

Preschoolers prefer food with a McDonald’s label over the same food without a label.

The children were enrolled in Head Start, which means they come from very low-income families. However, nearly all were fast-food connoisseurs.

Just two of the 63 children studied said they’d never eaten at McDonald’s, and about one-third ate there at least weekly.

Fewer than one in four children said the food samples, which were identical except for the wrappers, tasted the same.

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Comments

  1. The same goes for spaghetti pasta vs. mostacolli pasta. They taste different because they look different. Children are funny that way as every parent knows. Hence, this research isn’t surprising at all, especially having been conducted on 3-5 year olds who are at the start of becoming unreasonably finicky as they move into their middle school years.

    My maternal grandmother’s food always tasted better than my paternal grandmother. Why? Because I liked my mom’s mom a whole more. Marketing and advertising has long known the malleability of human perception. Are those susceptible just now discovering how this all works? Didn’t they recently conduct some research on bottled water with adults as the target group who preferred their tap water in a labelled bottle?

    Regarding the first statement: My brother, now 46 yrears old, still believes the pastas taste different. Go figure.

  2. It would be interesting to try a variant on this experiment. Take a group of affluent adults. Give them two meals: tell them that the first meal was made by a famous chef and the second is from a local no-name restaurant. Then ask them to compare.

    I would predict the same results as for the preschoolers.

  3. Reality Czech says:

    Spaghetti and mostacciolli have different mouth feel and absorb different amounts of sauce.  Why wouldn’t they taste different?

  4. That would be texture which certainly affects how we ‘perceive’ the fundamental taste of certain things.
    However, we’re just talking about the package.

  5. Nels Nelson says:

    It’s too bad the article doesn’t include a picture or description of the unmarked wrappers. Kids at this age respond well to bright colors, logos, and things that look, well, “packaged”. If the researchers were just handing them food wrapped in brown paper the results might have nothing to do with McDonald’s branding.

  6. I read in a textbook from college (late 90s) that children see over 10,000 commercials by the time they are seven years old. They are absolutely being molded into consumers of all types, especially for foods which will influence their habits forever. Just hum a jingle and watch the kids finish it for you.

  7. That would be texture which certainly affects how we ‘perceive’ the fundamental taste of certain things.
    However, we’re just talking about the package.

    Eat good food much? Your analogy doesn’t work.