Are Cereal Cartoon Characters Manipulating Your Kids with Their Eyes?

04/03/2014 at 12:46 PM ET

Study of Cereal Characters Eye Gaze
General Mills; Pepsico

Staring is rude but for certain cereal manufacturers, it’s also lucrative.

A new Cornell University study of 65 cereals found that the gaze of characters on cereal boxes marketed to children, including Cap’n Crunch and the Trix rabbit, is downward whereas spokes-characters on adult cereal look almost straight ahead. The result: The characters are staring into the eyes of young children.

You know what happens next.

“If you have eye contact with something, even with somebody on a box, it looks more trustworthy and increases your likelihood of purchasing things,” explained Dr. Brian Wansink, one of the researchers from the university’s Food and Brand Lab.


The study even measured those staring eyes: On adult cereal boxes, the average shelf height of the spokes-characters’ gaze was 53.99 inches; on kids’ cereals, it was 20.21.

A second key item in the study found that boxes featuring cartoon mascots are purposely positioned half as high on supermarket shelves as adult cereals — 23 inches for kids cereal verses 48 inches for adult cereal.

Researchers concluded that parents could take a detour around the cereal aisle if Junior’s with you at the grocery store and you don’t want him influencing your purchases. They also gave a shout-out to healthy cereal brands to draw some “eyes” on their boxes to increase loyalty and sales!

If only baby-carrot manufacturers could put eyes on their packaging, too.

—Nancy Mattia

FILED UNDER: Breakfast , Food , Food News , Kids

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Rhonda on

They’ll do anything to manipulate consumers into purchasing their sugary junk.

Tina on

This is so bizarre…but believable. Very sad.

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