Cornell University researchers recently reported that kids are more likely to eat apples with Elmo stickers on them than without. A group of entrepreneurs in California came to a similar conclusion and started selling edible stickers for produce.
There has been a great deal of hand-wringing over how to get children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and nutrition advocates--mindful of kids' propensity to buy things with their favorite characters on them--have suggested the same strategy for healthful foods.
David Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, and Brian Wansink, a Cornell marketing professor, found that kids they studied in upstate New York took nearly twice as many apples when they had Elmo stickers on them as when they didn't.
Brennan Neff and his partners have formed the company My Fruity Faces. At first they had stickers with anonymous cartoony faces. But recently they reached a licensing agreement for the SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer characters, and they hope to start selling them in stores soon. They are now available online.
Neff, a sales manager for Dole, and his colleagues tried the stickers on some kids, including his two youngsters. They decided they had a good product.
The stickers are made in Washington state by a company that makes cake decorations. They dissolve in the mouth, have no calories and are made from cellulose, sugar and baking soda, Neff said. They have a strawberry-peachy flavor that Neff says doesn't affect the taste of the fruit or vegetable.
"Mommy blogs" and other parent advice columns have long suggested making healthful food fun for kids-faces out of pieces of fruit, for example. "It's all the same logic. The novelty of eating the sticker is just what blows them away," Neff said.