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Grocery chain banning all products marketed to children with cute cartoon characters

Grocery chain banning all products marketed to children with cute cartoon characters

A Washington, D.C., area organic grocery store chain is banning all food items marketed to children with cartoon characters, according to a report on Food Navigator-USA. MOM’s Organic Market founder Scott Nash called using cartoon characters on items like cereal boxes or snacks “sleazy” and advertising itself ” a shady game.”

Nash said that it’s less of a problem for organic stores like his than conventional grocery stores where “half the cereal aisle has got characters on the boxes.” The ten MOM’s Organic Market stores, found in Maryland and Virginia, will be attempting to do what many before them have complained about: shelter children from advertising.

Starbucks once came under fire for marketing some of its fruit-flavored products at events that draw families, and has even pledged not to specifically target children.

Are children fair game in the the rough-and-tumble free market or is should we support those companies that choose not to use this approach for selling their products (or getting mom into the store)?

One thing we ought not to do is regulate the activity through government. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which was quoted in the article on MOM’s, points on its website to the Federal Trade Commission’s regulation of marketing to children, and well as state-based legislation restricting junk food marketing in schools.

Individual, privately owned retailers like MOM’s of course has the right to choose what products they will and will not sell. Some customers may appreciate their actions, others may choose to shop elsewhere.

What the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is doing, in effect, is using children to put forth their view of a more regulated and government-controlled society. That seems more like a sleazy and shady game than letting businesses decide for themselves if they want to stock products with cartoon characters.


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Henry Hawkins | January 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I have kids. Six of ’em at least. I don’t recall giving them my car keys and check book and sending them to the grocery store where they’d fall victim to predatory marketing. Their mother or I went. /sarc

I see a 1st Amendment objection on the horizon.

    jimzinsocal in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    My thought exactly. If sophisticated parents want to kill Tony The Tiger dont do it because he appeals to it for the real reason: An unresolved racial tension gloved as a more socially acceptable fear of African animals. Admit it liberal wanks. You dont really hate Tony The Tiger..Tony is simply a convenient mask hiding your fear and loathing of anything African.
    Man I almost sound like a overreaching liberal there!

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to jimzinsocal. | January 31, 2013 at 4:37 am

      Tigers are from India. So, as Indians and Sikhs are acceptable targets of Democratic ad hominen attacks, so are tigers, by extension.

    Just getting to my email and internet… I had the same thought!

    Honk! Move over for the nanny state folk! Some of us are so unsophisticated we NEED you to decide things for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for resolving all life’s problems. You are SO wise!

    shortwave8669 in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I wonder if we can ban hastily passed laws and regulations that are sold with pictures of cute kids standing behind the POTUS?

      Henry Hawkins in reply to shortwave8669. | January 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      Well, this isn’t a law, it’s a free choice by a grocery chain, but I see the 1st Amendment challenge on the horizon because you KNOW some whackjob lefty is gonna think it a great idea for legislation or regulation.

      Keep yar ‘ands off me Lucky Charms!

No wonder the adult liberal is so childish…….they had no childhood. Explains why they are so unhappy as well.

Nash is getting a lot or free notice for his stores & at the same time appealing to his target customers. That’s just good marketing.

A sterling example of the joyless, cringing kludges who populate the Punative Collectivist subspecies.

I wonder if they watch Sesame Street, which is one long commercial for its own products, and has commercial sponsors.

Maybe there’s something to this … and maybe we can continue it on in some form to ‘low information voters’, who are not unlike children in many ways.

The business has a right to not stock products with cartoon characters, just as I have a right to shop elsewhere. If they want to lose products, and still compete for business with pricing that reflects such choices, that is their right.

The 1st amendment doesn’t protect people from having their voice silenced in a private settting (such as a business – not unlike fire in a crowded theater restrictions), it protects people’s right to voice their objections about government policy and to say what they will in a public forum. I don’t see any 1st amendment challenges concerning the store chain’s decision.

On the flip side, the Campaign for a commercial-free childhood is very much open to challenges on a 1st amendment ground. I agree with the professor, that it is quite shady to use children to advance political goals, while advocating that such political agendas are “For the children”.

Couldn’t say “no” to the poor dears, could we? Might damage…something.

They had cartoon characters advertising products in the 50’s & 60’s. That’s when I grew up, and I would be hard pressed to cite specific examples of any that had even the slightest influence on me. I liked Rice Krispies, but it had nothing to do with Snap, Crackle & Pop.

Is the real problem with the kids, or the parents that can’t say no?

Like rinardman, I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. Advertising was directed to children for the very first time in that brand-new TV generation. I believe it was Fran of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie who recognized the unprecedented sales appeals being made to children, and she (and others) worked to create new advertising standards. I guess those standards fell by the wayside long ago.

The TV generation also marked the first generation of children and teenagers who actually had money of their own to spend, so advertisers were really hot get their share of loot from this new target market. We were a large and growing pool of independent shoppers.

Post-WWII prosperity brought many changes that are quite interesting to study, especially since the period is so recent that many of us are still alive to remember what it was like to grow up in that era. Studying that period also makes it a little easier to understand the vast differences between our lives and those of our parents who grew up in the Great Depression.

I’m sure parents were thrilled to be able to give their children so much more than they had ever received. I remember my mother telling me how broken-hearted she was when other children at school had so many presents from Santa when she had received none. She used to wonder what she had done that was so bad that Santa wouldn’t give her a thing. Her error: she had six brothers and sisters and the Depression just didn’t let Grandma and Grandpa’s money go very far. Consequently, my mother always made sure that my sisters and I had lots of presents to open (not expensive to be sure: crayons in one box, coloring book in another). We did not have extravagant things, compared to other kids, but looking back I can see that our family did have lots of modern things: a movie projector, a gigantic tape recorder (like 3 feet tall), Kodak and Polaroid cameras, melamine dinnerware, etc. But Mom cooked from scratch, and we kids did not fill the shopping cart for her.

To answer rinardman’s question: the real problem today is with parents.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to J Motes. | January 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    When I was 6 I got a new school uniform for Christmas . of course uniforms were compulsory so my parents had to get one anyhow.

    I think that wa my only one ever. I once gave my 8 year old a bicycle helmet for Christmas & have not heard the last of it for 15 years. She is amazed that I am not at all repentant. .

    At 10 I took on the family shopping with a budget of $10. I scrimped on every purchase so I could buy a packet of biscuits & eat them all at the park on the way home. Needles to say I walked & lugged it all in a wheeled carrier. No one starved & we never had cartooned boxed cereals .

    Neither did my kids.

    I think people really do carry on their own childhood raising – for better or worse.

Let 1 liberal be outraged at something and everyone has to forego whatever it may be since they alone are the arbiters of good taste and propriety.

Pardon me while I puke.

I’m infinitely happier since I left that cesspool of fascist nannies.

Nash really doesn’t have to change his product mix at all—does anyone make tofu-flavored rice cakes with cartoon character packaging?

This study finding that organic food is not superior to conventional food didn’t get much coverage. Wonder why?

    Henry Hawkins in reply to gasper. | January 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    There’s a 20+ year history of such studies, none of which makes the news.

    Probably because no one wants to see grown greenies cry.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to 49erDweet. | January 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Same with ‘Frankenfood’, genetically modified food. Moron eco-nuts don’t realize we’ve been genetically modifying food for centuries in a mysterious and magical practice called ‘farming’. Rather than the old ways of plant modification to bring out the desired characteristics, encoded in new seeds, it’s now more easily done in the lab.

        From the “father of the anti-GM food gang (unfortunately, the damage has, and continues to be done). His reasoning: He learned “science”. Who woulda thought science had anything to do with GM food? He must have been reasoning with emotion prior to that.

        Onetime anti-genetically modified crops crusader Mark Lynas began his speech before a farming conference in England this month with a mea culpa. And since then, his words have reverberated throughout the environmental world.

        “I want to apologize for having spent several years ripping up GM crops,” Lynas said at the Oxford Farming Conference. “I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the ’90s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option, which can be and should be used to benefit the environment.”

          Henry Hawkins in reply to gasper. | January 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

          “..and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option, which can be and should be used to benefit the environment.”

          And in his moment of epiphany he STILL missed the point. The goal of GM food is not to harmonize with environmental activism, it’s to improve yields. You know, try to end world hunger?

          $5 says this clown doesn’t know who Norman Borlaug was.

Sounds like to me the people at MOM’s Market are Cuckoo without their Cocoa Puffs!!

Thank goodness for Jungle Jim’s.

Is this Sharia Law?

Hah. I’m eating a bowl of Cocoa Krispies.

— Though people in pornographic positions would be okay.

It’s my job as a parent to teach my children that just because there is a cute character on the box doesn’t mean that the food is good (or good for them) or that we can afford to buy it. I’m trying to teach them a valuable lesson, and I don’t appreciate busybodies interfering.

I would echo the majority sentiment here that this is ridiculous.

When I was 8-years-old, I may have wanted Fruity Pebbles because Fred Flintstone was on the box, but my parents actually said “no” sometimes.

I would suggest that this is a product of a generation of parents who simply cannot say “no” to their spoiled children and need/want someone else (like the government) to do it for them.

TrooperJohnSmith | January 31, 2013 at 4:40 am

Organic kids’ products? What self-respecting child would eat such crap? I mean, Cap’n Crunch, Fred Flintstone, Tony the Tiger and Popeye couldn’t persuade any kid to eat that crap. That is because, unlike adults, little kids are not phony or contrived.

“Mom! Even Bowser won’t eat that new cereal!”

Next up:
NAG (National Association of Gals) will object to sultry, sexy women (way outside the norm of the majority of female body types) used in all sorts of ads aimed towards men (and *ahem* certain females?).
‘NADs (National Association of Dudes) will object to muscular hunks (way outside the norm of the majority of male body types) used in advertising aimed at women (and *ahem* certain males?).
MENSA members will protest the use of brainless men and women in a variety of commercials.
To quote ol’ Willie Shakey Spear, “Methinks the lady (man/whatever — primarily [IL]LIBERAL) doth protest too much!”

My earlier joking aside? The issue advanced seems silly or frivilous to most normal people. At the same time I recognize its another “cause” added to an ever expanding laundry list.
If I were going to go after the advertising industry, I might focus my energy on some of the poor messaging we see with ads for 5 Hour Energy Drinks.
On the tube were subjected to a young guy buzzing like a meth addict because the drink has given him the capacity to “do it all” including his debut album.
WTF sort of messaging is that? Teach our kids that “something added”…some “drink” results in superhuman performance?.
And we wonder how kids get the idea drugs are just an option/

Try this:

1) Take a cereal box with a bright and happy mascot cartoon on it, say… Cap’n Crunch.

2) Remove all the cereal from the box.

3) Replace it with shredded wheat cereal.

4) Pass the box to your kids next breakfast.

5) Note whether your kids like this cereal with the bright and happy carton mascot.

6) Decide whether it was the box or the cereal your kids loved or rejected.

I see this kind of stuff as being harmful to kids.

Kids learn self-control and good decision making from their parents. When parents try to foist this responsibility onto the government to dictate by law, the kids don’t learn.

Kids who don’t have parents who say “no” to them and teach them when and how to say “no” to themselves, grow up to be adults without the capacity to do so.

The best way to protect kids from slick marketing isn’t to hide it from them, its to show it to them and teach them how they’re being manipulated.

Henry Hawkins | January 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Marketing sells only the first box of cereal. The cereal sells the next box of cereal.