McNuggets Are Good, but Branded McNuggets Are Even Better

Study: Kids Prefer Foods in McDonald's Packaging

By Published on . 6

LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- A new study, certain to fire up the already heated debate over kids' marketing, finds that kids aged 3 to 5, when presented with identical foods -- one in a McDonald's wrapper and the other without -- overwhelmingly rated the branded one as tasting better.
Children aged 3 to 5 thought McDonald's fries tasted better when they came in the marketer's packaging.
Children aged 3 to 5 thought McDonald's fries tasted better when they came in the marketer's packaging.

The research, conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, will be published in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. "Kids don't just ask for food from McDonald's," said Thomas Robinson, director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Packard Children's. "They actually believe that the chicken nugget they think is from McDonald's tastes better than an identical, unbranded nugget."

McDonald's could not immediately be reached for comment.

About 30% eat McD's weekly
Researchers tested 63 children aged 3 to 5 who were also enrolled in Northern California Head Start programs. The children had an average of 2.4 TVs per household, and more than half had sets in their rooms. About 30% ate at McDonald's more than once a week and more than 75% had McDonald's toys at home.

Each child was given chicken nuggets, a hamburger and french fries from McDonald's and baby carrots and milk from the grocery store. The children were given identical portions of food, some carrying the McDonald's logo, and others wrapped in plain paper. With one exception, significantly more children said the McDonald's-labeled product tasted better. Oddly enough, the product they did not rate as better is McDonald's signature item: the burger.

"We found that kids with more TVs in their homes and those who eat at McDonald's more frequently were even more likely to prefer the food in the McDonald's wrapper," Mr. Robinson said. "This is a company that knows what they're doing. Nobody else spends as much to advertise their fast-food products to children."
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