They're Still Grrreat!

Kellogg has announced new restrictions on food marketed to children. It promises that ads with audiences consisting mostly of kids under 12 will be limited to products that meet certain nutritional criteria: no trans fat and no more than 200 calories, two grams of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of salt, and 12 grams of sugar per serving. (Kellogg also will use licensed characters such as Shrek only for products that meet this test.) Since Frosted Flakes makes the cut, the new limits don't seem very demanding. Kellogg may have to reformulate Shrek cereal (too much sugar), Cocoa Krispies (ditto), and regular Rice Krispies (too much salt). But the company is making an Eggo-ception for its toaster waffles, which apparently cannot be made palatable at less than 250 milligrams of salt per serving. All of Kellogg's cereals seem to be well under the calorie limit, although I guess the new policy would bar ads for something like Rice Krispies Treats (414 calories per serving) on, say, Nickelodeon. It's doubtful that the sugar and salt limits will make any medically relevant difference.

Still, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is happy enough with the new policy that it has stopped threatening to sue Kellogg. I think CSPI can more plausibly take credit for changes at Kellogg than it can for the switch to trans-fat-free frying oil at KFC (which was in the works well before CSPI sued the chain's parent company). But I find it hard to believe this sort of tinkering, even if copied by other companies, will have any noticeable effect on kids' waistlines or health.

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  • ||

    Why the emphasis on salt? Is there a childhood heart-disease epidemic I'm unaware of?

  • ||

    Are there official (legislated) serving sizes? Couldn't Kellogg just redefine a serving size to be half what it is now and thus ignore its own restrictions?

  • ||

    Good news. Even the really hard core libertarians around here (those really into lots of DP*) I should think are against letting kids under 12 contract for most things, so why should ads target them?

    * fucking of the Destitute by the Powerful

  • ||

    Some enterprising libertarian could get at least a colum out of the argument that CSPI's, and related groups, PR and educational efforts have done more to promote their agenda than their legal and political efforts. KFC ain't ditching trans-fat because of the NYC market - they're ditching it because the market has spoken, and CSPI played a big role in shifting opinion in that direction.

    Bergamot,

    What people eat as children determines to a very large extent how they will eat as adults.

  • ||

    Ken,

    Well there's DP, but that's not really all that precise. Are you referring to DV or DA?

    Don't get me started on DVDA - that's like a Tijuana circus act!

  • ||

    It's amazing how quickly the "artificial" hydrogenated vegetable oil ban in NYC has turned into a ban against all "trans" fats artificial or naturally occurring as it does in milk, eggs, butter.
    Of course when governments get involved in people's lives there are "never" any unintended consequences.

  • Diabetic dude||

    A little off topic, but I can remember going shopping with my mom in the early 60's and picking out the cereals we wanted... @ $0.25 a box. And ya got a prize inside.

    What are they now? $3.50..?

  • ||

    Oh and by the way. Popular products now made without transfats really suck.

  • ||

    Joe:
    The market has not spoken. Activists spoke (who make a lot of money scarring the crap out of people) and the companies know it is easier to fool the public with bullshit products then to fight them and their lawyers.

  • ||

    Art,

    Why don't you take a look at your sentence again. Why would the companies want to fool the public if it was only activists who were speaking?

    Your own words give you away - those activists won the battle for the hearts and minds of the public.

  • thoreau||

    joe-

    While I'd love to applaud examples of persuasion working better than coercion, it's not clear to me that these actions are really responses to consumer demand rather than attempts to head off litigation and/or regulation.

    I'm sure there are elements of both in there, but I don't really know how to judge the relative importance of each. The cereal companies will, of course, insist in public that it's a response to consumer demand, at least initially. So that really doesn't tell us anything. Those who want to applaud this action will, of course, also insist that it was simply a response to consumer demand. Those who want to critique this action will, of course, insist that it's really just an attempt to cover asses and forestall litigation and/or regulation.

    But I have no clue who's right.

    (OK, so I pulled a Cathy Young)

  • Paul||

    But I find it hard to believe this sort of tinkering, even if copied by other companies, will have any noticeable effect on kids' waistlines or health.

    It won't. Which is why in five years, the Center for "Science" in the "Public Interest" will testify before congress as to why mandatory restrictions and regulation will be necessary, and voluntary measures didn't "go far enough".

  • ||

    Oh and by the way. Popular products now made without transfats really suck.

    Not only that, but a lot of the products are getting rid of artificial trans-fats by replacing hydogenation vegetable oil with lard.

    Yeah, thank you government and CSPI, for fucking over all the vegetarians... and kosher jews, and hallal muslims, and many hindus as well.

    Perhaps I can threaten the CSPI with a lawsuit. Those CSPI folks, and all the folks who support trans-fat bans (including those in this forum), did so as a way to discriminate against religious and ethnic minorities! The Health Nazis are real old-fashion white supremacy Nazis as well!

  • ||

    ...the Center for "Science" in the "Public Interest"...

    I'm starting to question the "Center" claptrap too.

  • Edward||

    Does "pulling a Cathy Young" mean not blathering on with dogmatic opinions on something you know next to nothing about? How un-H&R!

  • ||

    Wait a minute. You're telling me Frosted Fakes have less than 200 calories per serving? Fricking Frosted Flakes????

    How many flakes in a serving?

  • ||

    joe,

    Do you support government mandated exercise? Government mandated daily calorie limits?

    You realize that too much sugar or transfats or advertisements are not the problem, right? That the political system is never designed to find blame in the parents or children, and so we have to carefully tiptoe around the real problem (lack of exercise and healthy eating habits), by mandating token bullshit health changes to food. Do you really think this kind of stuff is going to have any effect at all?

  • Paul||

    Those who want to applaud this action will, of course, also insist that it was simply a response to consumer demand.

    Thoreau:

    Maybe. The response will be schizophrenic, at best. The left (at large) will claim that it was a market response, because that frees them from responding to the accusations of wishing to regulate everything. CSPI, on the other hand, wanting to tumpet its own success, will have little choice but to claim that it was their efforts and threats of litigation that forced the change. Read: if it weren't for CSPI's tireless activism, none of these changes would have taken place. Also read: The market by itself wouldn't have brought about these changes.

  • Bee||

    How many 6-year-olds do the family grocery shopping?

    All parties involved in this idiocy have earned my scorn.

    BTW, the only people I know who eat Frosted Flakes are grownups. We always fight for the Frosted Flakes and Sugar Pops from the jumbo assortment of mini-cereals when we go camping.

  • ||

    IIRC cereal companies started making sugary cereals in the first place because consumers were adding sugar to their unsweetened cereal at home.*

    A little off topic, but I can remember going shopping with my mom in the early 60's and picking out the cereals we wanted... @ $0.25 a box. And ya got a prize inside.

    My mom didn't let us pick any cereals we wanted. She only bought cereal that didn't have a lot of added sugar. Like Rice Krispies. If only CSPI had threatened lawsuits in the early 1970's, they could have helped relieve my mom of some of her parental duties.

    *I believe it was mentioned in an episode of "American Eats" on the History Channel.

  • ||

    How many flakes in a serving?

    There is 3/4 a cup of flakes in a single serving of Frosted Flakes.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    I notice a distinct lack of popular condemnation of the healthier-prepared-food trend, and a distinct lack of boasting about trans-fat content among companies that continue to use them.

    And I'll repeat - companies aren't just getting rid of trans-fat, they're bragging about it in PR and advertising campaigns aimed at the public.

    As much as libertarians may dislike the CSPI's tactics, face it - the public is on their side on the underlying question of ingredient content and the healthfulness of prepared food.

    Remember the counter-documentary to "Supersize Me," the one where the libertarian activist showed that she could lose weight by very, very carefully choosing her food at McDonald's? It went nowhere. It's not even a blip on the public's radar screen. You know why? Because the public isn't even remotely interested in defenses of unhealthy food.

    On the tactics, sure, industry front groups have gotten some good PR with their ads against bills or lawsuits, but on the underlying question, CSPI won. The people you guys hate won the public over. Neener neener neener.

  • ||

    Rex,

    No.

    This has been another episode of incredibly easy answers to stupid questions that have nothing to do with anything joe has written.

  • ||

    If Mr. T ever heard about CSPI and its actions, it would exhaust his lifetime supply of pity. Please do not tell him.

  • Paul||

    Perhaps I can threaten the CSPI with a lawsuit.

    As Executive Director of The Center for Good Things that People Want, we are working on such lawsuits now. Unfortunately, being a liberarian based organization, we haven't quite gotten around to meeting, planning, or figuring out what our next move is on this front. Really, we just want to be left alone. Bothering other people tends to run counter to our philosophy. But I'm working on it. Really.

  • ||

    Perhaps you believe that advertising aimed at children has no effect on their parents' buying habits.

    Perhaps you believe that replacing unhealthy ingredients in prepared foods is not something that the public is actually interested in.

    But the companies who make billions of dollars selling prepared foods do. They have massive budgets for advertisements aimed and children; and they are putting a great deal of resources into ads and packaging redesigns that brag about the changes they have made in their ingredients.

    You don't like CSPI's tactics. Fine. Try to be intellectually honest enough to realize that that group's tactics are a different issue from the underlying matter of the public's opinion about the healthfulness of prepared foods.

  • Dave W.||

    While I'd love to applaud examples of persuasion working better than coercion, it's not clear to me that these actions are really responses to consumer demand rather than attempts to head off litigation and/or regulation.

    In a competitive market, this is tested by the fact that a different competitor or 2 or 20 or 200 will have a different idea about both consumer preferences, the regulatory horizon and the litigation horizon, and will market cereals unlike the new cereals Kellogg's is now switching to.

    In an oligopoly market, with "competitors" moving in lockstep, and almost all the grocery store (and WAL*MART) shelf space already bought and paid for, Kellogg's decision means that we will all abide by their new rules and there will be no consumer choice in this matter.

    And, T. Don't tell the people that you love persuasion. You hate persuasion. You call it "trolling." The regulars all know that by now.

  • ||

    I'm trying to find an angle here. I don't eat much cereal, so I guess I'm glad that the companies are making their goods healthier so that I don't have to have so many fat people in my line of sight as I walk to the dry cleaners.

  • ||

    We always fight for the Frosted Flakes and Sugar Pops from the jumbo assortment of mini-cereals when we go camping.

    The great thing about Sugar Pops when you're camping is that they still taste decent even if you've run out of milk.

  • Edward||

    Aren't all markets regulated to some extent? The idea that we can have completely free, unregulated markets seems to fly in the face of human nature every bit as much as utopian dreams of total equality do. Am I missing some step in libertarian logic?

  • ||

    Americans are all obese. Americans all want food without transfats, etc.

    Please explain. Are the bans popular, or is it just bibertarianism at work?

  • highnumber||

    Lamar,
    So you've broken down? You are going to take the 15 minute walk? Good for you!

  • highnumber||

    Edward,

    Yes.

  • thoreau||

    joe-

    I'll grant that the public doesn't complain about announcements of healthier prepared foods. I think most people say, and even believe, that healthier prepared foods are great.

    But the evidence is a bit more mixed when it comes to revealed preference. What people wind up deciding to buy is not always what they applaud.

    I remain skeptical here, regarding the extent to which this is really a response to what people want to buy. It is plausible that attempts to head off litigation and/or regulation are a big factor here.

    I think there's another aspect to this, though, that might relate to the dichotomy between what we say ("Of course I want healthy food!") and what we buy ("I'll have a diet Coke with my double cheeseburger and supersize fries, please"): If they have the healthier stuff on the menu or on the shelf, and they advertise it, we'll be more willing to enter the restaurant or store. We may not buy the healthy stuff in the end, but if we see it we can assuage guilt.

    So I guess there are 3 possible elements here:
    1) Genuine consumer demand ("demand" as in "demand curve" as in "measure of what people are actually willing to buy")
    2) Marketing (stuff that people want to see before they make a purchase, even if they purchase something else)
    3) Pre-emptive efforts to avoid lawsuits and/or regulation.

  • ||

    highnumber: Absolutely not. I'm moving out of the city! Multiply the dry cleaner dilemma by just about every recurring errand and it gets ugly.

  • Paul||

    But the companies who make billions of dollars selling prepared foods do. They have massive budgets for advertisements aimed and children; and they are putting a great deal of resources into ads and packaging redesigns that brag about the changes they have made in their ingredients.

    You know, I would like to remind the younger members of our audience that this country went through a health/food/diet/exercise craze once. That decade was called "the eighties". Jane Fonda's workout tapes (yes, tapes even) filled the video store shelves. Guess what, according to the wisdom at hand, we are in the midst of an obesity crisis. So much for the eighties, jane fonda and, well, health crazes.

  • 아래층으로 세탁소||

    당신은 추악한 말하고 싶다? 안으로 주어진 이 바지 Lamar를 보십시오!

  • ||

    Lamar,

    It's okay. In its secret agreement with Florida to remain a nation-state unto itself, Disney insisted on one hotel and dry-cleaner per acre in Central Florida.

  • Paul||

    What people wind up deciding to buy is not always what they applaud.

    Oh thoreau, you're "correcter" than you even know. To take this up a notch, one "product" people routinely applaud and pretty much refuse to "buy" is... wait for it... mass transit-- especially in cities west of the rockies.

  • ||

    But who will stop me from eating rich foods? Please help me help myself.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    "I remain skeptical here, regarding the extent to which this is really a response to what people want to buy. It is plausible that attempts to head off litigation and/or regulation are a big factor here."

    Why would companies doing something their consumers dislike produce advertisements and release PR statements to the public, bragging about it?

  • Ben and Jerry||

    We're converting to Republican now, assholes.

    Thanks for nothing.

  • ||

    joe,

    Fear of stupid litigation and/or regulation? Neither of which is popular? And, by the way, the totally unscientific rantings of the Center for Science in the Public Interest don't bother you in the least? Means okay so long as they result in ends you agree with?

    Meh. Waiter, bring me some fried chicken and haggis fritters.

  • I\'ll be your server this even||

    Coming right up, sir.

    [aside] Cheap bastard. Always 10%.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    There's another reason why some people (like my skinny assed self) get Diet Coke (or, in my case now, Coke Zero): it tastes better. I think I remember reading somewhere that the Diet Coke formula is essential the same formula used for New Coke, FWIW.

  • I\'m sorry to bother you again||

    Before I give this order to the kitchen, I do have to tell you that we now offer our chicken boiled and our haggis fritters poached. Would the good sir prefer the healthful option?

    [aside] The fat bastard could stand to lose a few. Fried innards twice a day every day. I hope he drops soon. F*cking cheapskate.

  • ||

    That's enough, waiter. And bring me some sausage gravy to wash it down with.

  • CLS||

    How fun. Kelloggs got their start producing cereal on the belief that it would help the youth avoid the sin of onanism. Now they are concentrating on the sin of gluttony. One form of cultic fanaticism has been replaced with another.

  • ||

    Correction: Coke Zero is Coke formulated with Splenda instead of sugar; Diet Coke is the New Coke formula with either NutraSweet or Splenda, although the fountain version contains some saccharin.

  • ||

    CLS,

    Please don't mention onanism when VM is around, m'kay?

    New Coke and Coke Zero suck ass. Give me Sugar Coke!!!!!!!

  • ||

    From the article:
    Still, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is happy enough with the new policy that it has stopped threatening to sue Kellogg.

    The implication behind these words seems to have escaped many: an organization with the dubious name of Center for Science in the "Public" Interest, commits an act of extortion and gets away with it.

    Joe:
    You don't like CSPI's tactics. Fine. Try to be intellectually honest enough to realize that that group's tactics are a different issue from the underlying matter of the public opinion about the healthfulness of prepared foods.

    In other words: The end justifies the means. Who is being dishonest?

  • ||

    Further correction (even though probably nobody but me cares, but I hate being inaccurate): New Coke was Diet Coke with HFCS.

  • ||

    PL,

    From my days as a young lad, I agree. Sugar Coke forever!

  • ||

    Joe:
    KFC ain't ditching trans-fat because of the NYC market - they're ditching it because the market has spoken, and CSPI played a big role in shifting opinion in that direction.

    You are BEGGING the question. If CSPI had in fact shifted the buyers' decision from buying Kellogg's products, then the market would have spoken by way of diminishing revenues for the company. So why was CSPI threatening to sue Kellogg's if all it needed was to wait for the market to stop buying the products?

    The answer of course is that you are simply assuming the market HAS spoken against Kellogg's. The fact that CSPI would resort to extortion indicates that this is false, and thus your contention is false.

  • I\'m so sorry, Sir.||

    We're out of sausage gravy. Would you like a cup of melted lard instead?

    [aside] I don't care what he orders. I'm sticking my dick in it.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate,

    "Fear of stupid litigation and/or regulation? Neither of which is popular?" No, that might be an explanation of why they were switching, not why they'd spend money bragging about it to the public.

    "And, by the way, the totally unscientific rantings of the Center for Science in the Public Interest don't bother you in the least?" Eh, it's better info about scienctific issues that you find in Reason.

    "Means okay so long as they result in ends you agree with?" Nope, I haven't actually stated an opinion about their "means," now have I?

    "How fun. Kelloggs got their start producing cereal on the belief that it would help the youth avoid the sin of onanism. Now they are concentrating on the sin of gluttony. One form of cultic fanaticism has been replaced with another." Yes, modern-day concerns about fat and caloric content in prepared foods are precisely as legitimate as the mid-19th century idea that eating products made from corn will reduce masturbation! Precisely!

    Francisco Torres, there is not even the slightest connection between noting that those are two different issues and "the end justifies the means."

    Also, "If CSPI had in fact shifted the buyers' decision from buying Kellogg's products, then the market would have spoken by way of diminishing revenues for the company." You do know that modern corporations carry out extensive opinion research efforts, right? Right?

    "The answer of course is that you are simply assuming the market HAS spoken against Kellogg's." I am "assuming" that Kellogg's feels the public desires healthier ingredients from the fact that they are SPENDING THEIR MONEY ON ADVERTISEMENTS AIMED AT THE PUBLIC, MAKING THE POINT THAT THEY ARE USING HEALTHIER INGREDIENTS.

    Hopefully, making that incredibly simple observation in ALL CAPS will save me the effort of having to explain it fifth of sixth time.

  • Amurikas Yutes||

    GO AWAY! BATIN!!!!!

  • Is this man bothering you?||

    We can have him removed, if you like.

    [Aside] Great. This asshole asks for a four top and acts like he's got "friends" meeting him here. Orders just a cup of coffee and sits there for three hours. Prick 1, meet prick 2.

  • ||

    joe,

    You grow increasingly disingenuous in your old age.

    Now stop bothering me--I must go kill my waiter.

  • ||

    joe,

    I think what you are saying is that Kellogg licked a finger and stuck in in the air, say which way the wind was blowing, and acted accordingly. In doing so, they also used their PR machine to show how committed they are to changing with the times. If I'm right in my understanding, I agree with you.

    I think the argument comes from people not wanting to accept that bad science is leading to marketing decisions, without people recognizing that whether or not it's bad science, it's still a (potentially) positive change.

    I guess that's why I was more concerned with the Coke subthread than the actually thread; because I don't find much to complain about here.

  • ||

    Good news. Even the really hard core libertarians around here (those really into lots of DP*) I should think are against letting kids under 12 contract for most things, so why should ads target them?

    Advertising != contract

    * fucking of the Destitute by the Powerful

    Yeah, that's why we like freedom of association so much, so people can be taken advantage of.

  • ||

    No, PL, I'm just growing old in a disingenuous age.

    One where the self-proclaimed avatars of following the market blind themselves when it goes in the direction of people they don't like.

  • ||

    Advertising -> contract, Nas. At least, those purchasing the advertising hope it does.

  • ||

    Advertising -> contract, Nas. At least, those purchasing the advertising hope it does.

    Twelve year olds don't really make that much money, last time I checked.

  • ||

    There's two issues here: the hearts and minds thing, and the litigation and legislation thing. The movie Supersize Me was an excellent example of the hearts and minds thing -- I quit going to junk fast food places because of that movie. I'm all for that sort of persuasion. But anyone familiar with politics knows that the CSPI folks won't stop at persuasion -- when kids continue to remain fat, they'll try to force their agenda upon us.

    As an example, the smoking nazis in our state first went after public buildings (FYI, I'm a non-smoker). Then they got a law passed that not only banned it in all bars and restaurants, but held those establishments liable for smoking within twenty feet of doorways -- i.e., restaurant and bar owners can now be fined or prosecuted for "allowing" people to smoke on public property that they don't have any legal control over. Now those smoking zealots are trying to ban all smoking in private multi-story residences -- people's homes.

    I've said it before -- a significant part of the obesity in our country is caused by the government's subsidies of agriculture, and in particular of corn syrup.

    ****

    A pre-emptive joe comment: You must be stupid, jh, because I don't agree with you. And the single instance you cited is irrelevant compared to the thousands of peer-reviewed studies I can't cite or provide any links to that allegedly prove otherwise. Because government is good, and so a lot more government is a lot better.

  • I quit!||

    Serve your own damn selves, jerks!

    [aside] I'm going back to school. No, screw it. I'll sell my Friends DVD collection and hitchhike to Eugene.

  • Paul||

    You do know that modern corporations carry out extensive opinion research efforts, right? Right?

    Which often turn out to be dubious because of the way they frame their research. The ultimate opinion research is "are people buying the product". It's a simple yes/no metric.

    History is a good guide as to how well "market research" works. Pepsi Clear comes to mind.

    Research: Product will be a hit.
    Revenues: Product is a failure.

    Francisco torres is correct. Either they're seeing diminished revenues or lost market share due to "better" nutrutional products, or they're not.

    Bringing a lawsuit in this regard is specifically designed to force a company to react against (or perhaps ahead of) a market, not with it. That would be like bringing a lawsuit against Pepsi to make it drop Pepsi Clear from the shelves.

    But yes, we all understand that it still comes down to people buying a product "against their better interest" due to predatory advertising-- a market "failure", in the eyes of the Center for "Science" in the "Public Interest".

  • ||

    "Advertising -> contract, Nas. At least, those purchasing the advertising hope it does."

    Twelve year olds don't really make that much money, last time I checked.


    Either way, I don't really have a problem with children above a certain maturity level, which I think most twelve year olds exceed, from engaging in contracts. What's at issue in the whole debate is not kids eating candy, it's kids eating too much candy, which is the responsibility of the parents in the first place (not that I mind companies distinguishing their product's healthiness in advertising).

  • ||

    "Twelve year olds don't really make that much money, last time I checked."

    AND YET companies that have been incredibly successful for decades at selling food consumed by children spend many millions of dollars advertising to them.

    How this works is really only a difficult question if you are determined to make it one.

  • thoreau||

    joe,

    I agree that if offering healthier choices pissed off customers then companies probably wouldn't do it except when facing very dire regulatory or lawsuit threats. They'd have to be backed into the corner.

    However, as I said above, it may be that most consumers don't mind seeing the healthier options, and don't mind some cosmetic marketing changes, as long as they can continue buying the unhealthy stuff. In that case, it's really about offering the stuff to get good will, rather than doing it to sell healthy stuff.

    Which is fine. Companies do all sorts of things for image.

    But that's not quite the same as selling something because the public actually wants to buy it, so let's not assume that efforts at persuasion have actually gotten the public to eat healthier. I dunno, maybe they have, maybe they haven't, but I've heard of more than a few companies pulling healthy offerings because, despite the positive public opinion response, there wasn't a corresponding public buying response.

    Now, granted, a few anecdotes don't necessarily mean much. So some products failed. It could be that the rest of the market research is good. Or not. It's something that we need numbers to sort out. (Note to everybody who likes to trot out New Coke and Pepsi Clear to "prove" that market research is junk.)

    Anyway, to get back to the original topic, this isn't even about selling healthier food. This is about some largely cosmetic changes to how they advertise their food. "Look, we care about your kids so much that we won't advertise our unhealthy stuff during cartoons! So buy our cereal for your kids, because we care about them!"

  • ||

    joe,

    I don't think that anyone is disputing that the public wants to eat healthier food. But the public also wants to eat food that tastes good. And, unfortunately, the two seem to be mutually exclusive.

    Now, take a given company that has been forced through the threat of litigation to reformulate their food. Their options are to stop advertising, push the fact that their food doesn't taste as good as it used to, or push the fact that their food is healthier. Easy choice, they take the latter.

    I am not saying that is what happened here. I (or you, for that matter) am not privy to the extensive marketing research that Kellogg's goes through. But what I am saying is that there is nothing inconsistent with a company being coerced by non-market factors to make a change and then touting that change in advertising.

    I think the best strategy for the taste-health balance is the Sun Chips strategy. They came out with a healthy chip that tasted like pressboard and then after a couple of years when Sun Chips=Health Food had soaked in, came out with flavored chips which were just as bad for you as the potato chips they were replacing, but still had the healthy cachet of the brand name.

  • ||

    What I think is that they (Kelloggs and other companies) are doing the marketing in the hopes that they can get people to switch to "healthier" alternatives because they see the writing on the wall irt the types of people, groups, etc like CSPI that are going to make their lives hell unless they don't start selling "healthier" alternatives.

    In general, I do agree that it's an organisation's right to go after any pet cause they feel some moral indignation about, but these guys (CSPI) are using absolutely bogus "research" to support their position, which means that they are full of shit and shouldn't be listened to. Unfortunately, there appear to be enough nannies out there to give them a huge budget with which they can bully companies. If they have all this money, why don't they just start their own healthy-foods company and make millions getting everyone fit and healthy?????

  • ||

    AND YET companies that have been incredibly successful for decades at selling food consumed by children spend many millions of dollars advertising to them.

    How this works is really only a difficult question if you are determined to make it one.


    Who said it doesn't work?

  • ||

    Paul,


    "Either they're seeing diminished revenues or lost market share due to "better" nutrutional products, or they're not." Or they're getting ahead of the curve. Corporations, especially large ones, do not simply sit back and wait until their market share takes a dive - they engage in a lot of product research and innovation (in both products and advertising) to anticipate trends, and set themselves up to be trend-setters.

    You know all of this, Paul. I must say, I rarely see such certain dismissals of the marketing decisions of corporations.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    That's a good point. Wal-Mart advertises its low, low prices on items, and actually offers a great deal on the lowest-end item at the end of the aisle, thus cementing their image as the low, low price store. Then, when you get one or two steps above the cheapest microwave in the world, their prices aren't any better than other department stores.

  • thoreau||

    I must say, I rarely see such certain dismissals of the marketing decisions of corporations.

    That cuts both ways, joe. Your confidence in corporations' ability to respond to consumer concerns without regulatory prodding is a bit, well, unusual.

  • ||

    But regardless, even if they're bragging about their healthier foods to do the equivalent of "greenwashing" the rest of their lines, it's still a strategy they've adopted, and that they think will work in getting the public to buy. The fact that they are doing these ads, regardless of their strategy, rather than hiding the changes in their recipes, demonstrates that those changes are related to a market demand.

  • Grotius||

    Jacob Sullum,

    Now would be a perfect time to link to some information about John Harvey Kellogg's ideas on sex, 'batin, bowel movements, etc.

  • thoreau||

    joe-

    It may very well be that advocacy groups persuaded the public to react positively to healthy food ads. If that's all they did, however, and they didn't actually changing buying habits, then it's a rather hollow victory for the advocacy groups.

    Time will tell.

  • ||

    It's true that kids don't (of shouldn't) do the grocery shopping, but it's also true that kids are an extremely impressionable target and it strikes me as immoral to try to "program" them towards products that are unhealthy for them (especially when it is done in such deceptive ways; the commercials do very little informing, usually they are about Toucan Sam's great Scrooge McDuck like adventures, only with the great taste of Fruit Loops regularly alluded to).
    It's all great for libertarians to puff out their chests and cry "My rational self is impervious to advertising which does not have my best interest at heart", many people in the real world are nefariously effected by it (especially kids for Pete's sake!).

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Let's take this back to a more concrete level: Kellogg's really is going to either change the ingredients to make their cereals more healthy (much more likely) or stop advertising the kids (much less likely).

    And Kellogg's is an industry leader.

  • Gahan||

    Given that one of CSPI's main objections to the food companies has been their advertising campaigns, I don't see the fact that companies are changing their advertising campaigns as evidence of a shift in public demand as opposed to legal pressure from CSPI. Maybe there has been a shift, but as stated above, I would want so see the numbers related to what people are actually buying before I jumped to that conclusion.

  • ||

    It's true that kids don't (of shouldn't) do the grocery shopping, but it's also true that kids are an extremely impressionable target and it strikes me as immoral to try to "program" them towards products that are unhealthy for them (especially when it is done in such deceptive ways; the commercials do very little informing, usually they are about Toucan Sam's great Scrooge McDuck like adventures, only with the great taste of Fruit Loops regularly alluded to).

    Well, like I said earlier in the thread, these products only become unhealthy after one consumes too much of them. Making sure that they do not eat too much is the responsibility of their parental units. To say otherwise is to say that even telling a child that candy exists is immoral.

    Also, I don't really think we need to be programmed to like sweets. Call me crazy, but I like chocolate cake even though I can't recall ever seeing a commercial for one.

  • ||

    Ken -- Nice job of beating up the strawman "libertarians who think advertising doesn't influence people." Most libertarians are savvy enough about economics to realize that advertising works, and that corporations doing the advertising aren't in the business of promoting the public good -- they're in the business of making profits -- and that there's nothing wrong with making money. What's really going on is a Darwinian thing -- for perhaps the first time in human history, virtually everyone in some countries have access to as many cheap calories as their hearts desire. So bodies that are hardwired to prefer consuming and conserving as many calories as possible are for the first time running into a situation where this strategy can be deadly. But, evolution adapts -- whereas in the 1800s the feminine standard of beauty was a womon plumper than average, reflecting the dearth of calories available, now the feminine standard of beauty is a stick figure. You could say the demand curve for plump women (and to a lesser extent, men) has shifted, and the dating marketplace is slowly resolving that problem.

    So we should quit blaming the companies for trying to profit off this whipsawing of consumer demand, quit trying to have government interfere in a process it has in fact worsened by its agricultural subsidies, and let both the economic and dating marketplaces sort this puppy out.

  • ComdrBlood||

    There is a growing demand for healthy cereal, just look at Kashi. It's gone from being on the bottom rack at Trader Joe's to the middle rack of my local Ralph's. Kellogg's has had some success marketing products like "Special K," to adults for adults, and it's probably a smart move to market healthier sugar cereal to parents.

    The public opinion polls are pretty much bullshit though. Burger King learned that a few years ago the hard way. Even though customers said they would like new healthy options on the menu, people don't go to burger king for a low cal salad. So now they up the ante with cheese, meat, and more meat and cheese. Their profits are way up, sending Wendy's back to 3rd place where it belongs.

    If Kellogg's fucks with my cocoa krispies I'm gonna be really pissed though. It turns milk into ovaltine!

  • Gahan||

    "You could say the demand curve for plump women (and to a lesser extent, men) has shifted, and the dating marketplace is slowly resolving that problem."

    Exactly. The obesity-inducing advertising aimed at children will soon give way to the bolemia-inducing advertising aimed at teens. It all evens out in the end.

  • ||

    k, even though I didn't get a response, I think I have this right.

    Love how the demand curve of dating will solve all theory seems probable. It's easy to see how many fat chicks are available on the dating scene, but skinny chicks are what's cool, so fat chicks wanting to move up in the social strata need to dump a few lbs.

    HOWEVER...

    Being in a lower social strata isn't as bad as it might have been 20 years ago. When you can be (for example) white trash and still have color tvs in every room and a car for every driver, well, that's not too hard to achieve.

    I guess this might be (another) case where the demand curve doesn't work to solve a market dilemma.

  • ||

    Being in a lower social strata isn't as bad as it might have been 20 years ago. When you can be (for example) white trash and still have color tvs in every room and a car for every driver, well, that's not too hard to achieve.

    To take it from another angle, if the government didn't subsidize road building as much as it does, people would probably walk more, as communities would be less diffuse-shopping malls wouldn't tend to be out in the middle of nowhere, small local shops would flourish, people would work closer to home, etc..

  • ||

    Various comments from Joe on this thread

    I notice a distinct lack of popular condemnation of the healthier-prepared-food trend, and a distinct lack of boasting about trans-fat content among companies that continue to use them.

    on the underlying question, CSPI won. The people you guys hate won the public over.

    Because the public isn't even remotely interested in defenses of unhealthy food.

    In a good natured way I have to say your are utterly naive and uninformed on the chasm between what the public says they want to eat in focus groups and public opinion polls and what they actually order and eat.

    The public is not interested in defending "unhealthy" food they are too busy cramming it into their face.

    Restaurant Chains Find Low-Fat Means Lean Sales

    Like many restaurant chains in the past two years, Ruby Tuesday has discovered that while customers say they want more nutritious choices, they rarely order them.

    Fast-Food Chains Buck the Healthy Trend

    Joe the cold hard fact is that
    Consumers lie like egg sucking dogs in focus groups and public opinion polls.

    Several food companies have found that out the hard way.

  • ||

    "corporations doing the advertising aren't in the business of promoting the public good -- they're in the business of making profits -- and that there's nothing wrong with making money." There's something wrong with making money when your method of doing it involves hurting people (i.e., as a hitman). Programming impressionable kids to go ga ga over sweets hurts many of them. Yes, yes, parents should protect them from this, just as parents should protect kids from some trenchcoat wearing freak who hangs out at the local park telling kids obscene things. But that is not only easier said than done (ask a parent) its also evident that not every kid has a responsible 'parental unit.' So what about them, screw for picking their parents poorly?
    "these products only become unhealthy after one consumes too much of them. Making sure that they do not eat too much is the responsibility of their parental units."
    See answer for point two supra. As to the first one, of course commercials only encourage desires in children that stop at healthy levels of the product (like drink responsibly!).
    "if the government didn't subsidize road building as much as it does, people would probably walk more" Yeah, no private interests behind the governments support roads, eh?

  • ||

    "corporations doing the advertising aren't in the business of promoting the public good -- they're in the business of making profits -- and that there's nothing wrong with making money."

    There's something wrong with making money when your method of doing it involves hurting people (i.e., as a hitman).


    assassination != assisted suicide.

    Programming impressionable kids to go ga ga over sweets hurts many of them.

    Again with this "programming" thing-as though kids don't like sweets already.

    "if the government didn't subsidize road building as much as it does, people would probably walk more" Yeah, no private interests behind the governments support roads, eh?

    Sure, private interests support government built roads. So what? Many companies find big government to their advantage. That doesn't mean it's a good thing.

  • Mike Laursen||

    An ability to filter bullshit, from advertisers or politicians or whoever, is a basic life skill that anyone living in the modern world needs to develop. Just like every caveman needed to know how to wield a club in defense against marauding dinosaurs.

    Exposing them to bullshit advertising (in doses they can handle) is as important to their mental development as letting them play in the dirt is to the development of their immune systems.

  • ||

    What people eat as children determines to a very large extent how they will eat as adults.

    Mom didn't let me eat cold cereal (irrespective of Kellogg and the TV). She fed me home-made granola and sometimes wheat germ with milk. I don't eat cold cereal now, but I don't eat any of that other stuff either. For breakfast I have one cup of coffee and an orange.

    I have to wonder about the character of parents who are giving in to their children begging for sweet cereal, or whatever the TV tells them. It seems the kids are more likely to be damaged by their witless looser parents than Kellogg Co., et al.

  • ||

    Just make the serving size smaller. Everyone eats Smacks out of the mixing bowl anyway.

  • ||

    Nas,

    By your logic, there would be a lot of land just sitting there, unused because it was too far away for people to get to and enjoy.

    I'm not advocating big government anything, but I am noting the progress that has been made in people's standards of living, and it seems to me that you find that to be a bad thing.

  • ||

    I'm going into the cereal biz. Sugar-coated hunks of sugar, sprinkled with little pieces of...sugar.

    I'm calling it "New Sugar-Frosted Fuck CSPI, With Sugar."

    It'll sell like hotcakes. With gobs of syrup. Hey - that gives me another idea...

  • herodotus||

    "Why would companies doing something their consumers dislike produce advertisements and release PR statements to the public, bragging about it?"

    For the same reason that radio stations with stale cowardly playlists will talk about how devoted to underground music and deep album tracks they are.

    It's about image.

    People are pathetically good at deceiving themselves.

    And I love trans fats, but I bike 17 miles a day and consequently have an extremely healthy bmi.

    So there.

  • Wylde Bill||

    Fuck you. I eat what I like.

  • ||

    thoreau wrote:

    While I'd love to applaud examples of persuasion working better than coercion, it's not clear to me that these actions are really responses to consumer demand rather than attempts to head off litigation and/or regulation.

    I haven't read the entire thread, so I apologize if this has been mentioned/discussed already.

    I'm employed for a food ingredient manufacturer, and I've heard there is federal legislation in the works to revamp guidelines for school-lunch programs. Kelloggs is trying to position themselves in the market for when this comes through. They're one of our customers, and while I can't divulge details, they are seeking ways to improve the nutritional impact of their cereals and snack items.

  • ||

    "Again with this "programming" thing-as though kids don't like sweets already."
    Nas, this only strengthens my point, its worse to fan something the kids are already genetically predisposed to do that is harmful for them (its like flaunting JB in front of an alcoholic).
    "Fuck you. I eat what I like." Do you Bill? I guess so, but did you choose to like what you like? How much of what you like is so because of manipulative advertising? Or are you just one of those rare uber-men libertarian rational individualist devoid of any effects of the frailties of human psychology that ad execs play upon?

  • ||

    Ah, the classic Reason junk food debate!

    Unlike Kellogg's cereal, this never gets stale.

  • ||

    Ken,

    It is really easy to prevent your kid from having sugary cereal for breakfast. Don't buy it.

    I typically find not buying something to be easier than buying it, since I can not buy something from home. On the other hand, I actually have to go somewhere if I do want to buy something.

    Same with candy and other unhealthy foods. Do not buy them, or else store them out of reach. That does not mean the kids cannot eat those things at friends' houses or whatever, but it will still greatly limit their access.

    Also, advertising does not program people. It only shows people what is available. The kids may be initially won over by catchy advertising for cereal, but they will not eat it if they do not like it. No advertising campaign on earth could make a kid want to eat asparagus or brussel's sprouts.

  • ||

    Very well, then. Along with our secret stockpile of tequila, we will also begin assembling a hoard of tasty, yet fattening, foods. For resale on the black market, natch.

    Why yes, you may kiss the ring of Don Libertate.

  • Jennifer||

    "Fuck you. I eat what I like." Do you Bill? I guess so, but did you choose to like what you like? How much of what you like is so because of manipulative advertising?

    Oddly enough, I have the same doubts about your political views, Ken. Did you choose to believe what you believe? How much of what you believe is so because of manipulative HOLY SHIT WE'RE GONNA DIE WITHOUT BIG DADDY GOVERNMENT TO SAVE US advertising?

  • dhex||

    "Or are you just one of those rare uber-men libertarian rational individualist devoid of any effects of the frailties of human psychology that ad execs play upon?"

    i am, but i've spent my whole life making fun of commercials. after a while it becomes more interesting than whatever's on broadcast tv.

    in fact, that would be part of the core curriculum of any reasonable media literacy course you could teach junior high kids. they're already good at mocking each other.

    A) what message are advertisers trying to push on you?
    B) how do they convey this message?
    c) did you see how lame that guy's haircut was?

  • VM||

    ProGLib:

    hay! hai guy. that's not what you told moi to kiss.

    /kicks llama in keester

  • ||

    Jen, where government, whether big or small, creates a life for more people where they can exercise meaningful choices and have meaningful opportunity (to create, to borrow a phrase used in this months edition of Reason [plug] "choiceworthy lives"), I support it. When it tells employers that they cannot arbitrarily fire their employees because of their political or religious views (so that the many employees can now feel free to have and express such views), I support it. Where it tells overbearing parents that they cannot force their daughter to forgo abortions, thereby protecting her choice, I support it. Where it makes folks free from want so that they can more freely choose what kind of work they want and are in a better position to turn down jobs with harsh or dangerous conditions, I support it. Where it actively acts to counter the brainwashing of advertisers over impressionable kids, I support it. I like liberty I guess, I'm sorry you like the interests of the powerful a lot more...
    "It is really easy to prevent your kid from having sugary cereal for breakfast. Don't buy it."
    1. Do you have kids? Cause this ain't always as simple and as easy as it sounds, brother.
    2. Granted your point, what about all the kids who have irresponsible parents? Screw 'em?
    3. Also granted your point, do you think kids suddenly slough off all the indoctrination fed to them when they mature? As the cig companies knew, if you get to a kid as a kid you increase the likelihood of having an adult who says, like Bill did above, "I like cigs (candy, liquour, etc), I'm freely exercising my choice to get what I like." You're free to do what you like, but not always to like what you like...

  • ||

    By your logic, there would be a lot of land just sitting there, unused because it was too far away for people to get to and enjoy.

    Says what? People wouldn't be sedentary. I'm saying that if the cost of using roads increases, people are probably going to make use of their legs a little more often.

    I'm not advocating big government anything, but I am noting the progress that has been made in people's standards of living, and it seems to me that you find that to be a bad thing.

    I don't really see being fat because you quite often have to drive to get where you want to go as an improvement.

  • Jennifer||

    where government, whether big or small, creates a life for more people where they can exercise meaningful choices

    But you seem to define "exercise meaningful choices" as "Making the choices I, Ken, think they should make." And if they don't make those choices, well then, have the government step in and take the choice away. Then bask in the sweet, sweet freedom.

    Granted your point, what about all the kids who have irresponsible parents? Screw 'em?

    Something you need to realize: no matter what system of government or social controls we have, a few people are gonna get screwed. If kids aren't with lousy parents, there will be kids stuck in lousy foster homes. So the best you can hope for is a system where the number of suffering innocents is at least kept to a minimum. And a system where parents have the right and responsibility to decide what their kids eat will result in far less misery than a system where some central planning authority makes the eating decisions for the 300 million people in this country.

    And as has been asked before on this thread: when you usher in your no-sweets-advertising no-trans-fat utopia and America's still full of fat kids, what do you plan to ban next?

  • ||

    "1. Do you have kids? Cause this ain't always as simple and as easy as it sounds, brother."

    Yes, I have a kid. Telling him "no" is one of the pleasures in my life. So far, he has not gone out to buy cereal that I do not buy him.

    "2. Granted your point, what about all the kids who have irresponsible parents? Screw 'em?"

    Well, if the government would stop taking responsiblity for everyone, maybe more people would take responsiblity for themselves.

    "3. Also granted your point, do you think kids suddenly slough off all the indoctrination fed to them when they mature?"

    Again, they don't like these things because of the advertisements. I like sugary cereals because they taste better than sugarless cereals. I like candy because it tastes better than carrots. I also make myself eat the foods that I like less because I know they are better for me. It is part of being an adult. Similarly, I make my son eat foods he does not like as much because they are better than him, and he will be more likely to make good choices when he gets older. It is part of being a parent.

    My options should not be reduced because some people are too stupid or lazy to do their job right.

  • ||

    That anyone believes for 2 seconds that all this nannying about our food will result in a healthier populace can be chalked up to one of two things (1)naivete bordering on stupidity or (2) a payceheck coming from one of the nannies.

    The biggest health problem we have is lack of exercise. Nannying about food will not address that.

    The biggest dietary problem we have is gargantuan serving sizes. Nannying about ingredients will not address that.

  • Mike Laursen||

    2. Granted your point, what about all the kids who have irresponsible parents? Screw 'em?

    Are you fine with the democratic majority deciding how your kids should be raised? Are you sure you want to grant so much involvement in raising your kids to a government that is run by Republicans about half the time? What if the voters decide that you are the irresponsible parent because you want to allow your teenage daughter to have an abortion? What if the Republicans decide responsible parenting means teaching your kids about being good Christian soldiers?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Unlike Kellogg's cereal, this never gets stale.

    Dan T., that was actually kinda funny.

  • dhex||

    "1. Do you have kids? Cause this ain't always as simple and as easy as it sounds, brother."

    yeah, this is basically the biggest motherfucking copout outside of "she was passed out and had nothing better to do."

    seriously guys. guys? guys? seriously.

    seriously.

  • ||

    "And if they don't make those choices, well then, have the government step in and take the choice away." Yes Jen, I think the government should step in when CHILDREN are making choices bad for them (and yes, yes, only AFTER their parents try first, but here's a news flash for you, as a parent it is increasingly hard to montior EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME your kid does). I'd like to have the liberty of being able to let my kid watch SpongeBob for thirty minutes without them being exposed to manipulative commericals for products which are horrible for them. You libs act like you have some shotgun rights to liberty, so lets take this slowly: under libertopia I can either have my kid watch the show and pick up horrible habits, or under governmentopia I can have the freedom to have my kid watch the show and not pick them up. EITHER way someone has their choices restricted, in the first my choice to be able to have my kid watch some entertainment without being programmed is compromised; in the second the company's choice to be able to hawk their crap to kids (mighty ethical, eh?) is restricted. That's the problems with libertarians in a nutshell: they talk freedom, liberty and choice but spend most of the time restricting it for the mass of people in the name of defending for a handful of employers and producers.
    "Well, if the government would stop taking responsiblity for everyone, maybe more people would take responsiblity for themselves." I think you and I both know that for many people this will NOT happen. Now, what about their kids?
    "Are you fine with the democratic majority deciding how your kids should be raised? "
    I dunno, are you fine with a handful of ad execs raising your kids, subtley and artfully manipulating their psychological weaknesses and immaturities to get loyal consumers for life? Cuz if the choice is between those two, and often it is, I'll take the former. BUT I never advocated taking any product off the market (thats the response of Kellogs, to change the product and keep hawking). I have consistently advocated using government to either countermand (i.e., public service ads) or limit ads aimed at CHILDREN.
    What always slays me about libertarians is that they bitch and moan that orgs like the Center here are "nanny's" worried about what other people are doing and trying to change their ways. And so Kellogs, Pepsi, etc., are not spending billions to manipulate folks into changing their ways (like to buy more of their products)? They spend not only on advertising, but on things like subsidies (to make their product cheaper and more palatable) and placement (like getting exclusive contracts at SCHOOLS for crying out loud), and other rent-seeking. THe difference is that public interest orgs are at least acting with good intentions, the companies could give a good goddam about your welfare (and please, I've read, and I even teach Hayek, so spare me the lame "good intentions" quotes, yes, they often lead to hell, but nearly as much as BAD intentions do).

  • ||

    But not nearly as much as BAD intentions do. But you figured that out I'm sure (with the excpetion of Jen perhaps).

  • highnumber||

    Yes, I have a child. It was a tough choice, but my wife and I have decided to raise him ourselves.

  • ||

    BTW Jen, I imagine that you don't mind the government stepping and taking some choices away. Like the choice of one person to simply squat on another person's land. Or to take someones wallet. Or to defraud a customer. Or to dump trash directly onto your lawn. So you see, while libertarian apologetics can be fun, its pretty silly to say "waaah, I believe in no government restrictions on choice and you do." We BOTH do. By all means let's argue how justified our respective restrictions are, but lets not anyone pretend that their ideology doesn't "restrict choices."

  • Sophie||

    I, too, have one child.

    I have always wondered if I made the right choice.

    *runs off, wailing hysterically

    (naughty. sick sick sick moose. just terrible)

  • Mike Laursen||

    I dunno, are you fine with a handful of ad execs raising your kids

    My wife and I have decided to rear our children ourselves. We're more worried about some of gramma's loonier ideas about raising kids than we are about ad execs. Can the government protect us from gramma?

  • highnumber||

    Ken,

    Very serious question, no snark intended:

    Do you know anything about the foundations of libertarianism? Property rights, non-aggression principle, etc.?

  • ||

    highnumber
    Yes I am, and they have commendable features, I just think they miss a great deal of the boat.

  • ||

    Ken is yet another in the long line who cannot comprehend the difference between an anarchist and a libertarian. Adjust your credibility filters accordingly.

  • Jennifer||

    I imagine that you don't mind the government stepping and taking some choices away. Like the choice of one person to simply squat on another person's land. Or to take someones wallet. Or to defraud a customer.

    Apparently you don't understand the difference between the behaviors you've just listed, in which one person actually violates the rights of others, versus behaviors like "eating junk food rather than health food" which can only, at most, harm the person actually doing them.

  • Mike Laursen||

    My question about Republicans being in charge of the government half the time wasn't a random smart-ass question. It goes to the heart of the matter.

    The idea that the government should assist you in rearing your kids assumes that the good guys are running the government. However, if the reality is that we can't guarantee that condition, doesn't it make sense to limit the amount of power that the government has?

  • ||

    I dunno Jen, educate me. Why is defrauding someone, say, rolling back my odometer on my car before selling it to you a violation of your rights but you convincing my child to enjoy food that is harmful for them not.

  • ||

    I'd like to have the liberty of being able to let my kid watch SpongeBob for thirty minutes without them being exposed to manipulative commericals for products which are horrible for them.

    You could always buy the DVDs....

  • Jennifer||

    Why is defrauding someone, say, rolling back my odometer on my car before selling it to you a violation of your rights but you convincing my child to enjoy food that is harmful for them not.

    Convincing a child to eat harmful food is indeed shameful, and if anyone runs commercials saying "Hey, kids, eat that yummy rat poison! The skull and crossbones on the box lets you know you're in Flavor Country" then I think they should go to jail. But there is nothing inherently harmful about a candy bar or a bowl of cereal; the only harm comes when it is eaten to excess by a child who never gets any exercise or eats anything else healthy. And that once again goes back to the parents.

  • ||

    "under libertopia I can either have my kid watch the show and pick up horrible habits, or under governmentopia I can have the freedom to have my kid watch the show and not pick them up."

    Guess what . . . you and your children have absolutely no right to watch TV. It is a privilege. The owners of TV Stations have a right to show programming, and they contract with advertisers who show ads. (Granted there are problems with FCC licensing and such.) For the government to control what the stations broadcast is a violation of their rights to free speech.

    If you do not like the ads, you are free to not let your children watch TV. You are also free to buy DVDs or videos. You can tape the shows and remove the ads. You have a lot of choices. TV is not free. If you choose to watch it, you pay by sitting through the ads or taking measures to avoid them. Claiming a right to have TV without ads you do not like is like claiming a right to have a car without paying for it

    "What always slays me about libertarians is that they bitch and moan that orgs like the Center here are "nanny's" worried about what other people are doing and trying to change their ways."

    The nannies try to do this through legislation, which means taking away choice. Ads only make people aware of what options are available. They CANNOT make someone like something they do not like.

    "They spend not only on advertising, but on things like subsidies (to make their product cheaper and more palatable) and placement (like getting exclusive contracts at SCHOOLS for crying out loud), and other rent-seeking."

    I think most libertarians oppose subsidies. Speaking for myself, I would rather get rid of public schools. Private schools can contract however they want.

    Also, giving more control over an industry to the government only increases the money companies will spend on rent seeking because it increases the government's ability to benefit/harm businesses. Big, established companies can pay lawmakers to pass laws that will benefit them over small businesses.

  • Gahan||

    "I'd like to have the liberty of being able to let my kid watch SpongeBob for thirty minutes without them being exposed to manipulative commericals for products which are horrible for them."

    Spongebob?! That show pushes a blatantly homosexual agenda on impressionable children. The government ought to do something about all this predatory homo-recruiting.

  • ||

    I suspect people are going to be eating less cereal anyway, since the prices of cereal and milk are rising so impressively.

  • Jennifer||

    "I'd like to have the liberty of being able to let my kid watch SpongeBob for thirty minutes without them being exposed to manipulative commericals for products which are horrible for them."

    You do have that liberty in multiple forms: buy Spongebob on DVD. Get a TiVo and blip through the commercials. Videotape the show and fast-forward through the commercials.

    By the way, your statement is barely one step above "I'd like to have the liberty of letting my kid watch Spongebob without having to see the Squidward character" on the whininess scale. There is no "liberty" or "right" to watch a television show exactly the way YOU think it should be aired.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Once upon a time they were called Kellog's SUGAR Frosted Flakes. That modifier went by the wayside back at the beginning of the sugar wars in the 1970's.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Fully and unequivocally agree with Reformed and Jennifer.

    I actually have kids that watch TV and I have to say that the simplest thing in the world is to explain to your kids the truth. Junk food and soda pop is fun. It tastes kind of good and it's okay once in a while. They don't really care that it has no food value but they do understand how food value works.

    I still LOL every time my son reads the label out loud and says something like total carburetors is 14 grams.

    Do my kids eat too much crap food? Probably a little more than they should but by the same token we can't keep enough fruit in the house. They can eat six peaches in two days. They eat green beans without complaint, ask for carrots in their lunches, and my daughter actually likes broccoli.

  • ||

    I have 4 kids..you'd be surprised at how easy parenting is. Saying "no" is very easy. And if you're kids whine and scream when you do, chances are you, or someone you left them with, has given into them before. The answer is not to remove temptation, but to teach them better. I don't care how many commercials they see, I'm the mom, I got all the money.

    People these days try to make parenting out as sooo difficult. Oh how hard it is to force them to eat right (what, is this Burger King? Since when do kids have options?), oh how upset Johnny is that he doesn't have the latest toy (quit giving in to him), they force me to do it (did I miss the meeting where all the kids have guns left and right?), well, what if they are at a friend's house (teach them how to make the right decisions and you stand a better chance). Look, our kids are growing up and while your whining about their influences, you are neglecting something VERY important. You can either teach them to use the brain they've been given, or you can cowtow to them until they get 14 and get a set of influences you can't control (their peers). Guess who wins then? You're worried about commercials? Idiots. I'm a lot more concerned with teaching them to see those commercials and pick out advertising methods used to influence idiots, so they can learn to say no. They gotta learn to say no some time, I'D prefer they learn it BEFORE their peers pressure them into something with permanent consequences.

  • Robert||

    "Do my kids eat too much crap food? Probably a little more than they should but by the same token we can't keep enough fruit in the house. They can eat six peaches in two days. They eat green beans without complaint, ask for carrots in their lunches, and my daughter actually likes broccoli."

    I liked everything as a child too (except that I had less taste for sweets than other kids). And as an adult. I'm ~100 lbs. overweight.

    It's not what you eat, it's how much.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    It's not what you eat, it's how much.

    Oh Robert, you are ever so right about that. And all 10,000 of my taste buds still work perfectly. They even worked perfectly when I was a smoker. MMMMMM, Tacos. Not that guy, the real ones. Smells good. Gotta go eat some carnitas with flour tortillas......and avocado.....

  • ||

    Ken says:"And if they don't make those choices, well then, have the government step in and take the choice away." Yes Jen, I think the government should step in when CHILDREN are making choices bad for them (and yes, yes, only AFTER their parents try first ..."

    And who defines which choices are bad for them? Since you're apparently quite liberal, are you OK with Republican theocrats taking your kids away from you because your kids are making choices you approve of but the theocrats don't?

    "I'd like to have the liberty of being able to let my kid watch SpongeBob for thirty minutes without them being exposed to manipulative commericals for products which are horrible for them."

    1) No commercials, no SpongeBob. You think the people producing SpongeBob are altruists who care more about societal good than making money?

    2) Since you're giving all this power to government to make good choices for your kids, guess what? The theocrats are gonna shut down SpongeBob and put in specially screened Veggie Tales with extra helpings of bible lessions when they're in power, and the Democrats are gonna shut down SpongeBob and put on grainy arthouse cartoons of gay vegans pissing on crucifixes.

    3) You don't like commercials, buy one of the thirty bazillion DVDs for kids. Is that so hard?

    "You libs act like you have some shotgun rights to liberty, so lets take this slowly: under libertopia I can either have my kid watch the show and pick up horrible habits, or under governmentopia I can have the freedom to have my kid watch the show and not pick them up."

    Under libertopia you'd have a plethora of choices of programming to pick from. Under governmentopia you'd have the choice of which hour each day you can shut off the telescreen, plus your choice of which arm to have the government tracking device inserted into.

    "That's the problems with libertarians in a nutshell: they talk freedom, liberty and choice but spend most of the time restricting it for the mass of people in the name of defending for a handful of employers and producers."

    That's the problem with statists -- they think the massive government interference would be done by selfless altruists who would implement just those rules you personally approve of, despite the abundant lessons from history of the misery and servitude socialism actually produces.

    "I dunno, are you fine with a handful of ad execs raising your kids, subtley and artfully manipulating their psychological weaknesses and immaturities to get loyal consumers for life?"

    Change "ad execs" to "politicians" and change "loyal consumers" to "loyal subjects", and that's where your philosophy leads.

    "THe difference is that public interest orgs are at least acting with good intentions."

    Ummm, try "acting as if they had good intentions". I'll take a greedy bastard trying to make a buck inadvertently benefiting me because he can only profit by filling a demand in the marketplace, over some do-gooders stealing my money and spending on things they think are for my own good, even if I vehemently protest that I don't want what they're foisting upon me.

    Other than that, we agree completely.

  • The Holy Prophet||

    You know, ken, we have to get away from all this stuff.

    You're absolutely right there are evil forces out there.

    But what are they?? You are obsessed with the evil food companies luring innocents to eat harmful foods.

    But just think there are evil ones luring children AND ADULTS into sinful ways that could lead them to eternal damnation.
    ETERNAL DAMNATION!!!! I say!!!

    You evil one!!! You're only concerned about the childrens' welfare here on earth.

    WHAT ABOUT THEIR ETERNAL SOULS?????

  • The Holy Prophet||

    In case you missed the point, Ken, you are a stupid fucking jerk!!

    So sayeth The Holy Prophet.

  • dhex||

    ken's not a jerk.

    i think he's wrong, but he's not a jerk.

    hyperbole should be reserved for the hyperbolic.

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