Serial Killer

14 10 2011

I must confess. I have always liked breakfast cereals. While I have learned to temper these cravings with age, it still like to sit down to a nice bowl of Cap’n Crunch or Frosted Flakes every once in a while.

All in the name of nostalgia, of course.

But there have been rumblings for several years now that the government might intervene and try to take the excitement out of breakfast cereals by forcing manufacturers to…well, quit appealing so much to kids.

You know. Cartoon characters that really have nothing to do with the product inside. Toucan Sam. Tony the Tiger. The venerable Cap’n.

But it looks like, at least for a while, cereal makers are getting a reprieve.

I, for one, am happy.

You see, as much as I know these products are really nothing more than sugar-fortified nuggets of processed grains, it is my responsibility as an adult (and as a parent) to regulate what comes into my house. Sure, kids can and do levy a lot of influence on family purchasing decisions, but who, my friend, is actually making the purchase?

It scares me to think that we should protect our children in product categories that minors are highly unlikely to be making the purchases. I have no problem with tobacco and alcohol, but please let the marketers be able to run freely. After all, branding a box of nondescript sugar-coated flakes of corn is going to be pretty difficult without a little excitement.

And while I am often found to be highly critical of my own kind when it comes to marketing, I have no problem whatsoever with marketing to children. It is not only every parent’s responsibility to regulate what comes into his or her home, but it is also imperative for children to learn how to deal with these marketing messages. If we protect them from an early age, they will likely not know how to deal with such appeals when they come of age. If they cannot learn to see through the shiny facade of cereal marketing, they will be gullible adults.

I agree that the cereal aisle is mesmerizing and geared toward people less than three feet tall, but this freedom is a hallmark of our society that I cherish mightily. To take away this freedom to learn, to prosper, to make dumb choices, is treading on dangerously thin ice.

While the mighty hand of government has intervened in many food and non-products, this is one they should not add to the series.

Now somebody pass me the milk.

Dr “Not Just For Kids” Gerlich

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