Wednesday, April 3

WTF: The Cookie Generation

gerber ad
See that Gerber ad above?

All I have to say is wtf.

I mean, WTF.

How is this cool?

No, seriously. I'm seriously asking. How is this okay?

How does this even happen?

How does this, an advertisement by arguably the leading voice in multiple generations of childhood food products, get by what one can only assume to be a team of highly-trained marketing department professionals, and make its way to the glossy pages of thousands upon thousands of publications?
Does anyone even look at these things? Part of me really hopes that they don't. Maybe it's just a boardroom full of total slackers? Thumbing their smartphones and "yeah, yeah, yeah" ing at their bosses when they're supposed to be commenting on potential advertisements. Yes, yes let's go with that. That would actually be quite a relief. Sort of.

So in this ad, this little girl, who let's pretend was determined by a pool of marketing masterminds to be representative of an entire, broad-based population of our country (and likely others), is literally saying "I'm learning good eating habits" as she consumes an apple. No, wait, that's not an apple. What is that? What is that darling little baby girl eating? A grape? A piece of broccoli? A stalk of celery? An orange? A persimmon? Is that a date? A plum? A pomegranate? Must be an avocado slice.  No? A piece of asparagus? Tomato? Kiwi? Maybe it's even a cholesterol bathed egg or an evil, fatty banana? And here's the part where I get to do my best toddler impersonation: The answer is no! No to all of the above! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! That darling little baby girl is eating a cookie. A Gerber cookie. Is teaching her good eating habits.


Really, Gerber?

In this age of obesity and misunderstanding about portion and self-control (and not just atop my sofa) a cookie is the best food item you could come up with?

Even our first lady has taken up the cause of childhood obesity. Michelle Obama chairs the "Let's Move" movement and urging us to raise a healthier generation of kids. Oh and little known fact? Michelle didn't cut her bangs on impulse. Nope. Truth is, she lost a bet underestimating the number of people who still believe diet sodas are good for you.

Don't get me wrong, I understand snacking. I appreciate snacking. Even, and possibly especially, the high-caloric variety. In fact, I defy you to locate any one who understands the joy of biting into something sticky, sweet, more than I. Oh, and it's bad for you, too? Please pass the jelly. But in no way am I kidding myself that brownies are a wise dietary choice. My choice, yes, for sure. But a good one? No. If we were to ratchet up the truth a few notches and feature me instead of that adorable little tot in the ad, what you'd see in the ad would be my disembodied head floating atop a splash reading, "Neither Haagen nor Dazs are real words. Real friends don't lie. Step away from the spoon".

Research shows more and more that snacking is not the best way to go for most people. In fact, for most people, eating more substantial meals 3-5 times per day keeps their metabolism running more efficiently than those who snack. Though I can see the value in getting a picky eater to eat something (anything! Why won't you just EAT. ANYTHING!), no one wins when we call a cookie a "good eating habit". Except maybe the owner of Gerber and their real estate agents. Let's just call it what it is. It's a cookie. A delicious, awesome little piece of food-like things. It's a sometimes treat. If that.
Does my office drawer have a secret stash of mini Reeses cups? Possibly. Am I guilty of rugaluch for breakfast?  It's happened. But "good eating habits" does none of the above make.  At least not for me. Because that's just not the way things work for me, and for so many others. I know the consequences of consuming a diet high in sugars, fats, and words that I cannot pronounce, and I have a feeling you do, too. The immediate effects that might hit home are: sluggishness, grumpiness, impatience (especially with really annoying people who don't seem to care that you exist and/or also might need one of those four parking spaces they've occupied) and even persistent hunger. The long-term effects remain unclear. But if these snacks like the one depicted in the Gerber ad were any good for us, we would not be living in a world without Alexander Graham Bell, Dick Clark, Ernest Hemingway, or Brittany Murphy.

Gerber and other glossy agendas continue to disappoint. What a wasted opportunity to promote fresh over over-processed. High fructose over actual fructose contained within a peel. In a world where the very foundations of the BigGulp requires federal review, do we really want our children associating good eating habits with something that comes in a crinkly wrapper?

Okay, okay, fine. Brittany Murphy probably wouldn't be around anyway, but you get my point, right?

So, one last thing while I'm up here on this not-so-sturdy soapbox --(is that chocolate syrup on my heel?)-- please, if there's anybody out there. Take a moment to consider what you are feeding your kids. When you just can't handle one more thing and the convenience wins, remember that there is a price associated with convenience. Yes, a banana won't fare well in your purse for very long. But the louder it crinkles, the less likely it is to be good for you. For anyone. And just because something says "fruit" on it doesn't mean there is, was, or ever will be anything therein that emerged from the Earth. Just nod if you can hear me.

You are learning good eating habits.

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