Kids may have an aversion to vegetables, but this could be changed by giving the vegetable a fancy name. Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Collin Payne and Matthew Klinger conducted a couple of studies to explore whether a simple change such as using attractive names would influence kids’ consumption. In the first study, plain old carrots were transformed into “X-ray Vision Carrots,” with 147 students aged between eight and 11 years from five ethnically and economically diverse schools, participating in tasting the “cool, new” foods.
Lunchroom menus were the same except that carrots were added on three consecutive days. On the first and last days, carrots remained unnamed. On the second day, the carrots were served as either “X-ray Vision Carrots” or “Food of the Day”, according to a Cornell statement. Although the amount of carrots selected was not impacted by the three different naming conditions, the amount eaten was very much so. By changing the carrots to “X-ray Vision Carrots”, a whopping 66 percent were eaten, far greater than the 32 percent eaten when labelled “Food of the Day” and 35 percent eaten when unnamed.
The success of the changes is stupendous, and the fun, low-cost nature of the change makes it all the more enticing. In the second study, carrots became “X-Ray Vision Carrots”, broccoli did a hulk-like morph into “Power Punch Broccoli”, along with “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans” replaced regular old green beans. Then researchers looked at food sales over two months in two neighbouring suburban schools. For the first month, both schools offered unnamed food items, while in the second month carrots, broccoli and green beans were given the more attractive names only in one of the schools (the treatment school).
Of the 1,552 students involved, 47.8 percent attended the treatment school. The results were outstanding: vegetable purchases went up by 99 percent in the treatment school, while in the other school vegetable sales declined by 16 percent! These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kids’ selection and consumption of these foods.