Cartoons and Junk Food—Unclear on the Concept

Twitter Updates


San Francisco PechaKucha Night
San Francisco IxDA


I read with mild amusement and strong dismay the latest tactic of the nanny-state ninnies: Study: Cartoon characters attract kids to junk food.

This is particularly interesting given that I’m in the middle of reading Emotional Design by Donald Norman.

Are the proponents of banning the use of cartoons on “junk” food really that ignorant of the principles of the first amendment, free choice, and of innate human psychology? Of course kids like food associated with cartoons! It’s the same reason we adults like other products endorsed or used by spots figures and other celebrities. It’s hard-wired into our evolution.

Use the power of the free market and our innate desire for association (popularity, recognition, and “fitting in”) for good, as trying to suppress it will likely have unintended negative consequences. Start your own food company, and put these cool cartoon characters on healthy foods!

And please go read chapter 2 of ED.

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

Leave a Reply