Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Push a Pringle, go to jail

You know those really annoying ads during children's television? No, not the ones designed to make your kid crave the latest toy. Not the ones designed to make your kid desperate to see the latest flick. Not the ones designed to make your kid beg you to take him to a theme park. Not the ones designed to make her want to watch the same Disney Channel TV movie for the 555,226th time. No, no, no -- the ones designed to make your kids hungry for junk food. The one where the kid gets his room cleaned up by peers entranced by the notion of pizza rolls. The one where a cool Tiger talks to you when you eat Cheetos, or your head turns into a watermelon when you down fruit chews. Those are the ones the kind folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest want to wipe off the air. And we say, "Great! And when you're done with the Cheetos, could you do something about 'The Cheetah Girls'?"

Seriously, the CSPI (not to be confused with CSI, which is who you end up with when you put your mortal body between children and Doritos) believes that the marketing of junk food to children is responsible for the terrible state of child health -- the obesity, the incipient diabetes and heart disease, the healthy green-veggie-filled dinners left unfinished -- and wants advertisers to cut it the heck out. And while we think that's a fine idea, we also think that the CSPI is kidding itself if it thinks that just cutting the commercials is going to make kids stop desiring all things greasy, salty, sweet and cheesy. Some other suggestions they may want to put into practice if they're really serious about this:

* All colorful, fun, cartoon character-bedecked packaging for junk food to be replaced by brown paper wrappers labeled "Liver and Onions."

* Supermarkets to hide junk food in small pockets of shelf space in aisles otherwise devoted to such non-kid-friendly items as mouthwash, laxatives, and Depends undergarments.

* All vending machines legally required to carry nothing but carrot sticks, broccoli florets, and rice cakes.

* All children's movies and videos to be edited to alter or remove scenes of junk food consumption. Instead of Reese's Pieces, Eliot to now lure E.T. with Brussels sprouts.

It won't be easy to make kids renounce junk food, but that's not the hardest job. Nope -- the hardest job will be to get adults to stop buying the stuff "for their kids" because they really want to eat it themselves. What, you think kids are eating all that Halloween candy?

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