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CHARLOTTE (CBS CHARLOTTE) – Have a kid that won’t eat their vegetables? Just give them a cool name.
A new study shows that if we make vegetables sound exciting, kids will eat them. Clever marketing trick or not – a study of 1,000 elementary-age kids in seven New York schools ate twice as many vegetables when they were labeled things such as, “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and even simply, “Food of the Day.”
The study was conducted by Cornell University and published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Brian Wansink, a marketing professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, told ABC News it really isn’t all that hard to do what he did. He utilized the help of a high school sophomore to come up with some goofy names and track the eating habits of the youngsters. In the study, he found students exposed to produce with the fun names ate 66 percent of their vegetables, while the boring-named veggies were eaten by students just 32 percent of the time.
“Giving anything a name goes a long way for making somebody believe it will taste better,” said the lead author of the study, Wansink told ABC.
But do all healthy food names need to be snazzy cool titles? Wansink said the answer is no. As evidence, he pointed to a name used previously to entice kids — “Bad Bean Burritos.”
Not necessarily something an adult would want to lay a finger on. But the kids literally ate it up.
“It doesn’t matter what they call it,” said Wansink, “Anything that makes it sound unusual or special has impact… We find any names work perfectly fine.”
These findings are applied to the “Smarter Lunchrooms Movement” that Wansink has spearheaded to assist school cafeterias in helping students eat healthier.
“Kids are on mindless autopilot when they go to the cafeteria. They’re there to hang out with their friends.” said Wansink, who is also the author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.” Kids don’t go to the cafeteria to explore new culinary options, he said.
It may seem silly to name your greens “Power Punch Broccoli” rather than just ask students to eat them. But Wansink says it works.