Making carrots fun?

Let's start with a thought experiment. You have the job of getting kids to want to eat carrots over say, gummy fruit snacks or graham crackers. How are you going to do it?

It is not an easy task.

Recently I asked a group of 7-11 year-old boys and girls at a martial arts class, not scientifically randomized but convenient, this very question. The group decided after some discussion, “Dip the stupid carrots in chocolate.”

When I pushed the issue, the kids told me that they were probably going to eat the chocolate off the carrots.

Researchers reported in the medical journal Pediatrics that:

Branding food packages with licensed characters substantially influences young children's taste preferences and snack selection and does so most strongly for energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.

This is good news for encouraging kids to eat healthy foods. The cartoon characters used in the research were Scooby Doo, Dora the Explorer, and Shrek. Kids chose carrots if Scooby Doo, Dora the Explorer or Shrek were on the package.

Kids 4-6, “significantly preferred the taste of foods that had popular cartoon characters on the packaging, compared with the same foods without characters,” the report continued.

Cartoon characters make carrots taste better to kids. Wow!

Editorial readership surveys

When I was a kid, I loved reading the “funnies” in my local paper. Years later, when I was a teenager, I worked for a restaurateur.  One day I happened upon this savvy business owner as he was talking to the local newspaper advertisement rep. After the meeting broke up I asked my boss, “How come you only advertise on the comics and the TV listing pages?”

The kind fellow explained, “When people get the paper they scan the front page and then read their favorite comics. If they have time they go back and read the front page. At night they look at the TV listings. So I put my ads where the eyeballs are. Today’s specials are put on the comics page to encourage people to come in tonight. Tomorrow's specials are put on the TV page, to get folks interested in coming in tomorrow night. The comic and TV pages are a little more expensive, but you want your ads read."

Over the years editorial readership surveys have shown that my old boss was correct. Thus, newspapers traditionally charge more for advertisement placement on the comics page.

People read gag and panel comics

Gag comics are single panel “gag” funnies; panel comics are usually comprised of three drawings that lead to a gag at the end. They are visual, uplifting, and take just a moment to consume. Thus, “they get the eyeballs.


Example of gag

Example of panel


Cartoons get attention

Because cartoons get attention, I advocate adding a cartoon "smile" to newsletters, emails, and web pages. The cartoon helps slow the reader down and the gag helps them feel welcomed to your content.

For kids, cartoons liven up a presentation or book report. It doesn’t hurt to have the teacher smile when she is giving your work a grade.

Invoices too

In my office we send out monthly invoices. I always place a cartoon in each envelope. It costs just pennies and it softens the invoice. It helps me stand out a bit, and I regularly hear that my customers like the “cartoon smile.”

1000’s of free cartoons and clipart

At I offer free cartoons on lots of subjects.

And at there are tons of free colorful clip art. All hand drawn, and all free.


Brothers Chip and Dan Heath point out in their phenomenal book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, that it is important to get your vital ideas to stick in the minds of your readers.

Cartoons have stickability when they are shared and talked about. Cartoons, like an information virus, are spread between friends, family, and coworkers.

By making your reports, white papers, blog entries, and sale sheets stick-able, your information gets spread.

So, as I often say, “Have a cartoon smile…”

At I offer free cartoons on lots of subjects.

And at there are tons of free colorful clip art.

All hand drawn, and all free.
Best Buy Co, Inc.