The promise of dessert after dinner can be a powerful incentive for veggie-averse children who see a plate of carrots and leafy greens staring back at them. But what if parents could entice their kids with something indulgent right alongside the broccoli?
That’s the premise behind a new social media contest from Kraft Heinz.
The food company is disguising its ranch dressing and relabeling it as salad “frosting,” packaging it in a slim white tube with flecks of vibrant color that resembles a confetti cake. The deception that parents can wield to get their kids to eat healthful foods is at the heart of the marketing initiative.
"Innocent lies parents tell their kids help alleviate the pressures of everyday parenting, and if it gets kids to eat their greens, so be it,” Kraft’s head of marketing, Sergio Eleuterio, said in a news release Monday. “Simple innocent lies are not only part of parenthood, but a true tactic used by parents everywhere. Kraft Salad ‘Frosting’ is one lie you won’t feel bad telling your kids.”
To get hold of the “frosting,” Kraft is calling on parents to share the “best” lies they’ve told their kids, using the hashtag #LieLikeAParent on Twitter. “Lies that receive the most likes and adhere to the contest theme and originality will have the chance to win Salad ‘Frosting!’ ” Kraft said. The company will reward 1,500 winners and send them a free sample of the “frosting.”
But the delusions aimed at children may be reflecting back on the parents who deploy them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most children in the United States still don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, despite evidence that suggests developing healthy eating habits in youth can lead to healthier behaviors throughout life. The concept of tricking children into eating more vegetables isn’t new. But research suggests that more straightforward approaches to healthier eating, such as pairing vegetables with certain entrees, may be effective, while strategies that rely on deception probably won’t be carried on as lifelong habits.
In a YouTube video promoting Kraft’s new product, a woman standing in for an innocently lying mom gives the audience some of her go-to lines: “Don’t touch the china cabinet — it will turn into spiders,” she says, with a knowing smile. “The Internet lady turns off the Internet at 6 p.m.,” she says, frowning.
Pulling open her refrigerator door, she unveils the secret weapon. “Introducing Kraft salad ‘frosting,’ ” she says. “Ingredients: Kraft ranch dressing and deception. Is it frosting? No. Is it wrong? It’s not important. But it will get your kids to eat their salad and veggies.”
According to Kraft’s recipes website, the brand’s classic ranch contains 110 calories per serving, 100 of which come from fat. Its daily values are 17 percent for total fat, 3 percent for cholesterol, 12 percent for sodium and 1 percent for total carbohydrates.
Kraft’s “frosting” stunt also highlights the shifting consumption habits of a new generation of parents. According to Pew Research Center, more than a million millennials (people born from 1981 to 1996) are becoming moms each year, accounting for more than 80 percent of total births in the country as of 2016. In a separate survey in 2015, Pew found that 60 percent of millennials with kids said being a parent is extremely important to their overall identity, which may speak to the need for help when it comes to getting kids to eat their vegetables.