The Story of Vegetables and the Name-Change Epiphany
Eat Your Vegetables!
If you are even a bit like me, you might recall sitting alone at the dinner table and mindlessly prodding some green mound on your plate with a fork while the clock ticked closer to your childhood bedtime. The mound being stabbed at had grown cold long ago, and the chance of it growing an ice cap before you would ever eat it was a fifty-fifty proposition.
The old reliable of drowning the green mass in a flood of ketchup would not work. This stuff was impervious to flavoring. The only remedy was to gobble it straight away, but as far as you were concerned that was the equivalent of eating your own gym socks. It wasn’t going to happen.
The threat of having it served the next morning for breakfast was idle mumbo-jumbo. There had never been a morning when you found ice-capped day old broccoli blobbed beside the eggs and toast on your breakfast plate. The trick was to outlast your parents, and so far you were undefeated. When asked from another room if you were eating your broccoli simply reply “I am,” and continue to prod the green gelatinous heap with your fork. Better yet, begin to whine. It doesn’t matter what you actually say; whining is all about tone. Try “I don’t like broccoli” or “I have to go to the bathroom.” Both are equally effective.
I imagine there are lumps of antique broccoli or asparagus laying dormant on faded china somewhere out there still. But the passing of time has made us smarter, and vegetables are not the scourge they once were.
Presto-Change-O, Call Them Something Else
A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but a vegetable by another name changes everything -- or so says a study published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.
More than 1000 children from seven New York Elementary schools were given the option to choose veggies with creative and colorful names such as “Silly Dilly Green Beans” or generic names such as “Food of the Day.” The proportion of students who chose servings of hot vegetables with enhanced names almost doubles over a two month interval. In those schools that did not offer vegetables by different names vegetable selection went down by just over 16 percent.
The concept behind the idea is simple marketing: if you wish to sell something you must make it attractive to the buyer. Highfaluting vegetable names seem to promote the buying effect among children. The strategy is to get kids to choose foods that are more healthy.
Choosing the new names for these foods used an equally simple approach, and pricey marketing folks need not apply. A sixteen year old high school sophomore was the mastermind behind the labels. He collected data for a part of the study and also received high school credit for his efforts.
Researchers suggest that the approach might be used in the home setting as well. Perhaps those marathon sessions at the dinner table can be remedied with a pinch of rebranding by Mom. Dark Knight green beans anyone?
Living life well-fed,