Friday, August 20, 2010

Salesmen at dinner

I was emptying the dishwasher when it occurred to me that the congestion in the cupboards is worse than the traffic in Moscow.  "A Disney princess plate on top of the bowls!?!?" I pulled out a few of the culprits and took pictures of them (this is a symptom of continually thinking of things to blog about--I estimate 3% of my ideas actually make it into the electronic universe--60% of the time my statistics are correct).

This got me thinking (hence the pictures). Why do we buy our children these things? Do we want them to resonate with Bambi and Buzz Lightyear? Do we really think their meal experience will be better with Luke Skywalker staring at them through their macaroni and cheese?

I think it's safe to say the average American doesn't have a healthy relationship to food. Check out our obesity rates, or our rates of eating disorders. I'm not going to suggest that the artificially thin cartoon characters watching over our children while they eat contribute to self-image problems, but it wouldn't surprise me if it didn't help the situation.

Are we supposed to believe that children who eat off of a Disney plate are more likely to eat healthier? Or that mealtimes will go more smoothly? Or that kids with themed dishes are more loved? Maybe, but what I do believe is that they will be more likely to recognize the Disney princesses in a store and want to buy those products.

It's no secret that companies like to establish their brands early in a customer's lifecycle. Get 'em hooked early and you've got a steady stream of cash for the rest of their lives. I've outgrown all my specialty Disney items (gave them up last year or so...), but that doesn't mean they didn't hook me into buying the same sort of nonsense for my kids or adult versions for myself.

I'd like to suggest that kids are capable of eating off of normal plates with normal forks just like all the billions of other children who have done it throughout history or do it now because they can't afford the plastic luxuries.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not for taking all the fun out of life for my kids (I'm an Atticus Finch fan actually). I'd simply rather they engage in the materialism of nature instead of the materialism of cheap, plastic consumer goods.


  1. Preach! 100% agreement here. There will be no Disney-themed items in this household! Also: two thumbs up for the Atticus Finch parenting style.

  2. The relationships with food in this country are definitely not good in both directions, obese, or anorexic, I agree.