Nuremberg Trials Set for Tony the Tiger, Spongebob Squarepants, Trix Rabbit


Yesterday, Reason's Jacob Sullum blogged the announced lawsuit by Center For Science in the Public Interest against Kellogg's and Nickelodeon for marketing sugary breakfast cereals and other weapons of mass flabulation to kids.

Reader Jeffrey Moyer sends along this Reuters account that notes that Nickelodeon licenses "its characters for 'good-for-you' products" as well as Pop Tarts and the like. Indeed, SpongeBob Squarepants–the Zarqawi of the homosexual agenda now that Tinky Winky has effectively gone missing–has graced packages of the appopriately named "Grimmway carrots."

And blogger Eric Berlin points out that one of the parents cum plaintiffs has stated that she doesn't even buy sweetened cereals for her kids. She's told the press, "Although I have a strict policy against junk cereals in my house … this doesn't stop my children from asking me for them, especially after seeing enticing ads." To which Berlin responds, "What did she say? She doesn't buy sugary cereals? She's threatening to sue companies for millions because her children ask for something she disapproves of? Is she out of her MIND?"

Which seems about right.

One note about all this: As a parent–and a former child–I don't think there's any doubt that emblazoning a product with a popular kids' show character helps move product or, at the very least, get kids interested. My four-year-old son will routinely call for the Batman SpaghettiOs (buy 'em by the case here) over the same non-superhero version of the product. (He thus validates an insight that cyber-guru Esther Dyson made in a 1996 interview with Reason: That "from a business point of view" intellectual property is "dead" and that its primary function now is to serve as "advertising to charge for speaking, consulting, for software support–for T-shirts.").

Which isn't to say that such character promotions rise to Vance Packard-like levels of unstoppable, if not quite hidden, persuasion. As the parent/plaintiff's own press testimony above underscores, it's one thing for a kid to clamor for Libby's Libby's Libby's on the label label label (or whatever) and something very different for parents to comply.