I was saddened, but not surprised, to read in this morning's paper that preschoolers overwhelmingly prefer food in McDonald's packaging, even "normal" food like carrots and milk. The article about the research explained that the kids were given identical samples of a variety of foods -- one was put in McD's packaging and one was not.
Even though the foods were exactly the same in the name-brand group and the unbranded group, "Fewer than one-fourth of the children said both samples of all foods tasted the same." According to the study's author, the presence of the name brand wrapper actually "physically altered" the child's perception of how foods taste.
Perhaps even more telling was this statistic: only 2 of the 63 kids in the study said they'd never eaten at McDonald's. About a third of them ate there on at least a weekly basis. We're talking about 3 to 5 year olds. Fruits and veggies should be their dietary mainstays, not french fries and hamburgers. (Any wonder we have an epidemic of childhood obesity when a preschooler thinks that even carrots are better if they are McCarrots?)
Just this past week, when we were visiting Nana, she wanted to take all of us out for lunch at McDonald's. We said no, and at the time I felt like a bit of a killjoy; she said she mainly wanted to let BJ run around on the indoor play structures. An air conditioned play option in the desert does have its appeal, I will admit. But, as S said, "We haven't fed him fast food yet, and we don't intend to start now."
Reading about this study, I feel even more strongly that we are making good parenting decisions. BJ gets excited about food we've grown together in our back yard garden, instead of food in a branded wrapper. The kids don't watch commercials or get exposed to a lot of marketing, because we don't watch TV (except for occasional Sesame Street; we can get in PBS reasonably well on the rabbit ears). There are no McBabies in my house, I'm proud to say. And I intend to keep it that way as long as possible.