Monday, May 9, 2011

Snack Attack

Real fruit at the outdoor market, Belem, Brazil
When my kids were in preschool, it was routine to be assigned certain weeks of the school year to be "snack parent," which meant you were in  charge of purchasing snacks for the entire class for those weeks. Most parents, no matter how overworked and undernourished ourselves, tried diligently to be creative with snacks. Maybe not as creative as these bento-packin' mamas, but most of us tried to find interesting and nourishing foods for our kids to carry to school in the class-assigned snack basket.

We recognized that the purpose of the mid-morning snack was to refuel the kids by providing nourishment that would allow them to focus, follow directions, and play for a few more hours. Some protein, some fruit, a carbohydrate or a vegetable if you could swing it. Just a midmorning snack.

But there were always those parents who thought daily snacks should be like a party. You know those parents...the ones who would bring one huge muffin from a wholesale warehouse for each child, even though those muffins could feed four preschoolers and are just cake in disguise. But the worst offenders were those who brought Fruit Roll-Ups for the fruit part of the snack.

Now, the parents at this preschool were an educated bunch, and I'm fairly certain no one really thought there was any fruit at all in a Fruit Roll-Up. But they would say things like, "But the kids like them!" (Translation: "I want the kids to like me!") I could always tell when one of my kids had a Fruit Roll Up because of the tell-tale blue or green or red lips and tongue and the equally colorful irritation that would be following him around like a cloud.

The folks over at Fooducate, one of my favorite food blogs, have deconstructed another type of "fruit" snack. Check it out. The labels on these are especially mis-informative, tricking the unaware into thinking these snacks are much healthier than they really are. The masterful marketing ties into a well-known juice brand and tries for the halo effect by associating this completely manufactured food with the family farmer, thus implying natural and healthy. Because parents need a PhD in label reading to get past the slick marketing, I bet these snacks make regular appearances in the snack baskets at preschools across the country. What do you think?



  1. I'm lucky. My son hates those kind of snacks. I think he has a built-in BS meter.

  2. Hey, look! My comment made it in!