Popeye Says Eat Your Spinach

| Bonnie Patten

Something amazing happened at our dinner table.  My daughter got into a fight with her brother (that’s not the amazing part) about who could eat the last of the – are you ready for it? – zucchini.  My husband and I couldn’t believe it – our kids, probably much like yours, are not what you’d call vegetable lovers, and most dinners are spent persuading them (yes, that’s code for yelling at them) to eat their veggies.  It was just one of those interesting blips in the cosmos.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that the zucchinis sat untouched on our youngest son’s plate.)

This incredible event got me thinking about how I wish more marketing dollars were spent on getting kids to eat their veggies.  Instead of promoting sugared cereals, juice boxes, and the like, why can’t Scooby-Doo promote veggies?  Just think of it, kids begging for Captain America cauliflower and Pinocchio peppers – how wonderful would that be?  Not to mention healthy.  If that were the case, I might even lift my ban on bringing the kids to the grocery store.  (I just got tired of them trying to convince me to load my cart with all manner of food items just because it had a superhero or comic character on it.)

Not only is this a healthy idea, but it works.  In the 1930s, the sale of spinach increased some 30% when a certain sailor began devouring the leafy green substance from a can.  (And I can add that I have three spinach eaters in no small part to them seeing Popeye shows.)  In the summer 2010, the Vidalia Onion Committee paid DreamWorks Animation about $300,000 to use Shrek on placards, bags, and its website in an ad campaign entitled “Shrek Forever After, Vidalias Forever Sweet.”  Why Shrek?  Well, as Shrek explains in the first movie to his friend Donkey, “Onions have layers, ogres have layers….  Ogres are like onions.  End of Story.”  The impact of Shrek’s endorsement?  According to the Vidalia group, sales of the sweet onion increased by 50%.  If Shrek could do that for onions, just think what Justin Bieber could do for broccoli.

Bonnie Patten

Bonnie, executive director of, is an attorney and mother of three. Her commitment to educating the public about deceptive marketing stems from her belief that education is the only…

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