So the Center for Science in the Public Interest has come out and said it doesn’t think the Minions characters should be tied to any, “low-nutrition foods,” aka, candy.
It’s things like this that make me wonder if I should just give up and accept the fact that someday sugar will be as regulated as tobacco. I mean, is that where we are headed? It definitely seems like that’s what the CSPI wants.
In an open letter to NBCUniversial, the studio behind the film, the CSPI laments that, “the popular characters, clad in their goggles and blue overalls, are being used to market candy such as Fruit Gushers and Fruit by the Foot, as well as Cheese Nips, Pez, Tic Tacs, Jello, and McDonald’s Happy Meals.”
First, I honestly didn’t realize Jello was what counted as junk food these days. As for the Tic Tacs, well, I mean, that marketing pairing was just basic fate. Tic Tacs are literally the same shape as the Minions. Plus, I’m pretty sure Tic Tacs have like 2 calories in them, so why all the hate?
The CSPI goes on to try and explain its position.
“They are not the types of products that companies should be encouraging children to eat more of,” writes Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI ex. dir., and Margo G. Wootan, CSPI nutrition policy director, in a letter to Stephen B. Burke, ceo of NBCUniversal. “A key aspect of a strong policy would be to require that foods associated with your characters contain healthy ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables or whole grains.”
Look, I get it. Eating healthy is hard, and raising kids who eat healthy is even harder. So, the confectionery industry (and apparently the Jello industry?) needs to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with obesity.
Which is why candy makers should do things like support the FDA’s proposal to include “added sugars” on nutritional labels, and use Front of Pack Labeling on products.
Asking that Minions only promote fruits and vegetables though? That’s just a flawed attempt to make a false comparison between the little yellow guys and Camel Joe.
The thing is, sugar is not tobacco. Banning sugar isn’t a realistic option. Making sugar illegal for people under 18 to eat, isn’t a realistic option. And pretending that it’s the sole cause of the obesity epidemic isn’t just irresponsible, it’s short-sighted.
At the end of the day though, the biggest difference between sugar and tobacco is that tobacco is so, so much worse for you. As this article from Slate points out, “heavy smokers are almost four times more likely to perish than nonsmokers, about double the risk associated with obesity.” That’s right. Double!
Of course, that doesn’t mean we should be force feeding kids cheeseburgers or anything. And, of course, we should all work together in the fight against obesity. We need to continue to teach parents and kids about moderation and a balanced diet, create programs that make healthy food more accessible and less expensive, and we need to encourage a cultural shift in the way we view food in general.
The one thing we shouldn’t be doing is demonizing Minion Tic Tacs.