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Kids prefer “ANY” food in a McDonalds wrapper!

What if I told you that French fries taste better if they are in a McDonalds wrapper? Would you believe me?  What if I said that an ordinary store bought carrot was also preferred if it came enveloped in the golden arches? In a recent study performed by Stanford University researchers, preschool children were found to prefer food that was wrapped in McDonalds packaging verses the same food item in plain packaging.

In this study children said milk, carrots, French fries, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, and juice all tasted better if these items were presented in McDonalds logo packaging. The children were served two identical samples of each food on a tray; one was in McDonald's wrappers and the other was presented in a plain, unmarked package. The kids were asked if they tasted the same or if one was better.

The McDonalds labeled items won hands down! Would you believe that 77 percent of children said that French fries taste better when served in the McDonalds wrapper vs. the same McDonalds fries in an unlabeled wrapper? That is not all, 54 percent said regular store purchased carrots were tastier when served in Micky D’s packaging, while only 23 percent preferred the carrots in the plain package. The story was the same for every item sampled. The unmarked foods always lost the challenge.

Only two of the 63 children that participated in this studied said that they had never eaten McDonald's food, while 1/3 admitted to eating there at least once per week. This research is disturbing to say the least, however it will probably shock you to know that I think introducing fast-foods to your children is probably a good idea. It is my opinion (and that of many well established Ph.D. researchers) that the best way to ensure that your children will want these foods when they are older is to forbid them from having them when they are young.  Do not misinterpret what I am saying (Dr. Mexico did not just tell you to run out to BK or Micky D’s) but once in awhile (a few times per year) will certainly not harm you or your children.

If you do decide to take your children for fast food, whatever you do, do not reward them with it.  Do not say, “since you were so good, we will go to McDonalds today.” It is never a good idea to reward good behavior or positive accomplishments, with a negative stimulus (ie: Junk food).  I would also encourage hiding the toys that come in the “Happy Meals” and giving them to the kids at a later time.  Kids should not expect to get toys when eating their food, if so, of course they will want that food more often; but this is perhaps a topic for a different article.

Dr. Mexico is a Chiropractic physician and owner of Synaptic Chiropractic Center, which is a private practice with offices in Baldwinville, MA. He can be reached at (978) 939-8700 or at drmexico@synapticchiro.com.

1. Robinson, T. MD, MPH et. al. Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161:792-797.

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