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kiddie consumerism

Kiddie consumerism

A quick run through the grocery store reveals several things:

1) We are in the era of convenience. Possibly to the point of calling it the era of laziness instead.
2) Packaging has gone out of control. I thought that by now most companies would be of the tree-hugging variety and offer minimal packaging instead of boxes that take 5 hours and three different types of pliers to open.
3) The health and nutrition of children is of paramount importance to no one in particular.

I see a woman in the vitamin/drug aisle. She is filling her cart with all kinds of natural remedies. Green tea and ginseng pills and some vitamin made out of onions and garlic and split pea soup that allows you to have twice the energy of your ordinary superhero. Also in her cart are 4 boxes of high-sugar cereal, 2 oversized packages of Oreos and a case of Code Red Mountain Dew. Mixed messages in that wagon.

I stand in the cereal aisle, scanning the shelves and feeling thankful and a bit smug that my children like "healthy" cereal like Special K with strawberries and Rice Krispies. Cookie Crisp makes me gag. A bowl of cookies for breakfast? Doesn't that seem a bit absurd? Breakfast cereals made with Reeses and Nesquik and maple syrup. Mmmm delicious and nutritious! When I was young, at least they called them what they were. Sugar Pops, not Corn Pops. That's right, the word SUGAR was right there on the front of the box. Now they just pretend to be healthy. At least my parents were honest about it. Here, have some sugar, dear. Now it's, Who wants corn for breakfast?!

These kids today. Everything has to be bright and flavorful and represent their favorite television/movie icon. As an adult, I find it quite disturbing to submurge Buttercup in a bowl of milk and then munch on her. I bought the SpongeBob crackers and the SpongeBob mac and cheese, but I can't bring myself to chew Patrick's head. Don't even get me started on the Nsync gummies. They have a moist liquid center that squirts a refereshing blob of Timberlake into your mouth when you suck on them! Eww.

Nothing is ever left alone. Ketchup is purple and green and pink. Margarine comes in colors. French fries come slathered in chocolate and cinnamon. Margarine tubs talk to you. Applesauce is blue.

Sometimes I wonder, do these things appeal more to the kids or the adults. I have seen more grownups squealing over Star Wars cereal and Kellogg's Mickey Magix than kids.

I know that convenience appeals to adults. Looking in people's shopping carts I can see that it is all about pre-packaged, pre-cooked foods. Meals in a box for people on the go. Doesn't anyone cook anymore? Doesn't anyone like to linger over a simmering meal, stirring and basting and boiling? No? Is everyone in that much of a rush?

Not me. Nope, not me. You will not find any of that stuff in my house. I don't care about brand new flavors. I don't fall for movie tie-in promotions. I don't fall for tv characters sales pitches. I don't believe in convenience or too much packaging or funny colors.

Not me.


I refuse to buy purple ketchup or blue apple sauce. and there is nothing good about that start wars cereal. have you tasted it? we did. and a week later, it went the way of the micky magics cereal. in the can.

and yes, i meant to call it start wars. certain grocery items start wars in my house. like who gets the baseball cards out of the fruity pebbles. thank god they were buy 1 get 1 free this week...lol

The Star Wars cereal was awful, as was the Spiderman cereal. Yea, we bought it for the packaging.

Here's a view from the other perspective. Meals made from scratch require three primary ingredients: raw materials, time to properly prepare them, and someone who enjoys the chore.

When the kids were still living at home, we had real incentive to prepare "real" food. It was less expensive, and more nutritious. Measuring cups, however, are rarely used around here, so each meal became a feast of epic proportion. Our waists are testament to those days.

After the kids left, cooking for two was really no fun at all, specially when measuring cups were still nowhere to be found. As my wife and I made plans to reduce our weight, we found that more and more food was going to waste - not leftover waste, but spoiling in the refrigerator because it couldn't be used in time.

A couple of months ago, we switched to prepackaged food for dinners. The absence of preparation and the five-minute nuke time were much appreciated, as was the fact that no plates were required for serving. It also introduced the double benefit of portion control and no food waste.

While these meals don't rival the quality of a home cooked meal, they are nevertheless quite tasty (we've come a long way in that regard). And I've been able to lose significant weight (more than 20 lbs so far) in the time I've been limiting myself to these portions.

Sure, we could go back to eating "real" food, and just limiting the portion size, but why would we want to when we can each have our own "favourite" meal (each person's different from the other's) without the fuss.

Your comments about green ketchup and blue apple sauce are bang on.

That's a trend I just can't see staying around for any length of time.

I take it you found the new individually wrapped slices of peanut butter product.

You are an inspiration to families everywhere. Just say NO to mindless consumerism (unless it's something you really, really want).

I hope I made it clear enough that the pictures in the last paragraph were all taken in my home.

I was being umm....self effacing? Is that right?

my kid is the pickiest of eaters. having his favorite characters on the package has some magic for my little kiddie consumer. i'm afraid if it weren't for spongebob and pokemon and [latest hit kid movie] branded food products, the kid would waste away to nothing.

I've grown rather fond of the spooging *NSYNC fruit snacks, myself, but I agree with everything else. ;)

And yes, I got that those pics were from your house. :)

Frankly the coloured ketchups and margarines and applesauces make me want to yark.

Those pringle stacks are the only way I could get away with eating only a few of those addictive chips.

What a grand idea.

And it's not like it would cost more than the bigger packages. Because to me, one package = 1 serving - regardless of the size of the package...

What a great post! As the mother of two growing boys, both of whom readily recognize most cartoon characters, much to my continual chagrin lol, I am very familiar with the "grocery store madness." "Ma, can we get that? MA! Spiderman! MA!!!!!!!! Look at Pooh!!" UGH. Fortunately, I have been blessed also with children that actually like Kix and Cheerios and Product 19, and will eat those 95% of the time, with only an occasional sugary box thrown in to keep the peace. Heheh. And as far as other things, well, I try not to bring them in the house, and so far I do pretty well. If they don't want to eat what's there...they don't get it. But.....mass consumerism and "in-your-face" advertising gets the best of everyone, I think. I do happen to have some strawberry Pop-Tarts with Spiderman Tattoos inside the box up there in the cabinet..... ;)

JEfrom Canada has it right--cooking for two or fewer on a regular basis ends up wasting food. And for one? Get a grip--and remember that COOK is a four-letter word.

As for kids and their "favorite" sugar bombs aka cereals--can you say Attention Deficit Disorder?

Having a family is certainly a factor. The packaging involved in convenience foods would get way out of control when you're cooking for 3, 4, 5 or however many. Being single though, not to mention very lazy, I love all that boil in the bag rubbish that can be thrown into the pan, forgotten about for 20 mins, and then just wolfed down. Mind you, I only eat 'cause I'd die if I didn't. That's probably why I find the idea of strange coloured foods so odd. They aren't big over here 'yet' though. God help us when they start producing genetically modified blue tomatoes or whatever.

justin timberlake spurts in your mouth when you suck on him? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. yes, please, can i have some of that?

I was going to ask you exactly whose freezer those french toast sticks were in, girl. ;)

i'm so glad someone else remembers sugar pops. i was starting to think i imagined it. tho i think they had started calling them "sugar corn pops" by the 70s.