Monday, August 13, 2007

It's all about the packaging

I subscribe to an RSS Feed from, and one article in particular caught my eye this morning:
The article states that in a side by side comparison, whether or not the food itself IS from McDonalds, kids tend to choose the food in the McD packaging. For example, given the choice of (A) grocery store chicken nuggets in a McDonald's box, vs. (B) actual McDonald's nuggets on a plate, kids are more likely to choose A.

As a graphic artist and website designer, this comes as no surprise to me. Most people would choose a company with a good looking website and brand marketing over one without. Why? Better packaging. And the gut feeling that if a company cares about their image, then they must care about the quality of their work as well. Depending on the company, this may or may not be true, but it's more of a subtext than a correlation.

McDonald's has this down to a science. So why not use this information as a strategy to get kids to eat healthier foods? Perhaps we could find some some fun food-safe paper to wrap up lunches in, for example. Even junk food you make at home is healthier than junk food at a fast food restaurant. Compare:
  • Chicken McNuggets®: White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, chicken flavor (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, natural extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, partially hydrogenated corn oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent). (click for source)

  • Trader Joe's Chicken Drummettes: chicken breast, water, butter flavor (maltodextrin, modified cream from cow's milk), sea salt, spice extractives, cotton seed oil. (Source: I called the Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor and one of the employees was kind enough to get a box and read me the ingredients. I think we must have missed the breading ingredients, so I will call back and update the list soon.)
Should the packaging matter? Maybe not, but humans have evolved and thrived for a long time by choosing the more attractive foods for survival.

The whole thing reminds me of the old Eddie Murphy stand up routine from Raw (Warning! Rated R language in this You Tube clip) where he begs his mom to take him to McDonalds and she makes him a hamburger at home instead.

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