From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published September 17, 2012 03:13 PM

Creating catchy names for vegetables leads to increased consumption in schools

With names like "Golden Corn Nuggets" or "Sweet Creamy Corn" do you think you would be more inclined to choose corn as your side dish when going through the cafeteria buffet? What about "Powerful Peas" or "Rainforest Smoothie?" Do they sound more tempting than a bowl full of peas and a glass of vegetable juice? Well, according to new studies, attractive names can actually compel elementary-aged children to eat more vegetables.


Researchers Brian Wansink and David Just from Cornell University, Collin Payne from New Mexico State University, and Matthew Klinger of Half Hollow Hills High School East, conducted various studies to explore whether the simple change of using attractive names would influence a child’s consumption of vegetables.

The study looked at 147 elementary school students, ages 8-11, from 5 ethnically and economically diverse schools. Lunchroom menus were the same except that carrots were added on three consecutive days. Carrots were labeled either "X-ray Vision Carrots," "Food of the Day," or unnamed for each of the days. The study revealed that 66% of the carrots were eaten when labeled with the creative name whereas 32% were eaten under the label "Food of the Day," and 35% were eaten when unnamed. 

In another study, carrots became known as "X-Ray vision carrots," while broccoli was labeled "Power Punch Broccoli" and "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops," and green beans were branded "Silly Dilly Green Beans." Researchers looked at food sales over two months in two neighboring NYC suburban schools. For the first month, both schools offered unnamed food items, while on the second month, one school changed the vegetable names. Of the 1,552 students involved 47.8% attended the school where the name change occurred. The results show that vegetable purchases went up by 99% in the school with the cool vegetable names, while vegetable sales declined by 16% in the other school where names were not changed. 

"These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kid's selection and consumption of these foods and that an attractive name intervention is robust, effective and scalable at little or no cost," said Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. "This research also confirms that using attractive names to make foods sound more appealing works on individuals across all age levels."

The psychology behind the name change has to do with the consumers themselves. If they like the name more, or if the name has a fancier or more descriptive label, they will think the product taste different. 

Introducing attractive names to vegetables not only increases sales but also convinces children to choose healthier options. 

Read more at: Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.

Girl eating vegetables image via Shutterstock. 

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