Why do children like junk food?
Every Thursday my son and I pick up my eldest daughter from Cross Country club, then my other daughter and her friend from dance class. The route home takes us past MacDonald’s and every week the conversation is the same:
‘MacDonald’s!’ one of them will exclaim (as if it’s the first time they’ve ever seen it).
‘Can we go there?’
‘Why would you want to go there?’ I ask.
‘Yeah,’ says my saintly seven year old. ‘It’s really bad for you.’
‘But I want to go there,’ says my son. ‘We can have chips.’
‘I’d like cheeseburger…’
‘I’d like chicken nuggets…’
You get the idea.
So finally I relented and said we could go in the last week of term.
How excited were they about that? They didn’t stop going on about it all week, even my son, who knew that he couldn’t eat anything except the fries. The fact that I offered to take him some wheat and dairy free chicken nuggets didn’t seem to register. He was going to MacDonald’s. That was all that mattered.
You may have gathered that I don’t take my children to MacDonald’s very often. It’s just not something that we do, unless we are travelling and we stop at a service station where the choice of eateries is limited. I’m not a fan of junk food. In fact, I find MacDonald’s food a bit tasteless actually. There, I said it. So shoot me.
Thursday couldn’t come around soon enough for all four of the children. When we got there, they were positively giddy and it wasn’t until we got our food and sat down to eat that it actually hit me. It’s the Happy Meal that they were all so excited about, and at the moment it’s all about Mario:
This is the little guy that came with each meal. Not one of us actually knew who he was, but that wasn’t the point, the children had their toy and that’s all that mattered.
So there you have it. My children are attracted to junk food because of the promise of free ‘stuff’ aimed at their age group. They are a marketers dream.
It’s not right, really, is it?
What do you think?