Concerned your kids aren’t eating enough veggies? What parent isn’t? New research from Cornell University suggests the cure might be easier than you’d think: Just make up a silly name for the despised vegetative matter. In controlled tests, that was enough to send cafeteria consumption of vegetables up nearly 100 percent.
In the first study, conducted at five schools, students were served carrots on three consecutive days. On the first and last, the carrots were given no name. On the middle day, they were called either “Food of the Day” or “X-Ray Vision Carrots.” The latter name increased actual consumption—not merely the amount taken, but the amount eaten—to 66 percent, compared to 32 percent when the carrots went unnamed and 35 percent when they were known as “Food of the Day.”
In a second study, researchers monitored veggie sales at two suburban New York schools. For a month, cafeterias offered plain old carrots, broccoli and green beans. On a second month, at one of the schools, the veggies got cute nicknames: “X-Ray Vision Carrots,” “Power Punch Broccoli” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans.” Students bought 99 percent more vegetables at that school; at the other, where the veggies remained unnamed, purchases dropped by 16 percent.
Researchers are excited by the results because while the increases were dramatic, the changes were simple and low-cost. So tonight, serve the kids Curly Whirly Cauliflower and Slap Dash Asparagus and see what happens.