Cornell reinvents wheel with food study

09/21/2012 08:55:00 AM
Fred Wilkinson

Fred Wilkinson, Food for ThoughtFred Wilkinson, Food for ThoughtAh, university food researchers. Sometimes it’s a tough call whether to admire their work or mock their corny, naive efforts.

Maybe both?

Case in point: the Ivy League campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where scientists are seeking to answer the question: Does giving vegetables silly names improve child nutrition?

Yup, that’s right. In a bizarre real-world parallel to the old Monty Python skit about the Ministry of Silly Walks, Cornell University boasts a Department of Hokey Produce Names.

OK, that’s not exactly true, but the university’s Food and Brand Lab is testing the hypothesis that goofy names on school lunch menus can get schoolchildren to increase their vegetable consumption.

Cornell researchers are testing the likelihood that students at five “ethnically and economically diverse” schools would eat items dubbed “X-Ray Vision Carrots,” “Power Punch Broccoli,” “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans” over the same foods labeled “Food of the Day.”

According to a Huffington Post report, funny names do translate into kids eating more vegetables.

In one school, 66% of the carrots labeled “X-Ray Vision Carrots” were eaten compared to 32% when they were just “Food of the Day.”

The Cornell study concluded, “These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kid’s selection and consumption of these foods and that an attractive name intervention is robust, effective and scalable at little or no cost.

This research also confirms that using attractive names to make foods sound more appealing works on individuals across all age levels.”

So nice job, Poindexters.

Your study has “discovered” a couple fundamentals of marketing and branding that are likely taught in Marketing 101 elsewhere on campus.

fwilkinson@thepacker.com

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John    
Floriduh  |  September, 24, 2012 at 07:37 AM

You just referenced a HufPo report. I stopped reading after that. HufPo's newsworthiness is on the same level as Yahoo's. Everything there is devoid of fact and feels like it's written by 12-year-olds.

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