Most restaurants jazz up the allure of their menu items by adding appealing descriptive words, such as Grandma’s Homemade Mac and Cheese instead of Macaroni and Cheese. Researchers David Just, Matthew Klinger, Collin Payne and Brian Wansink hypothesized that a similar practice would have a significant impact on the intake of vegetables in school lunchrooms. Their recent study published in Preventive Medicine, examined whether or not giving vegetables attractive names increased intake, whether the changes held up over time, and if implementation of name changing was feasible on a wide scale.
Two studies were performed in typical school lunchrooms, each with positive results. In the first study carrots were renamed X-ray Vision Carrots and while the new name didn’t affect the percentage of children taking carrots, carrot consumption increased by 66%. Calling carrots X-ray Vision Carrots likely increased taste expectations, influencing children to eat their veggies!
The second study took place over a longer time period. Again X-ray Vision Carrots made an appearance as well as Power Punch Broccoli, Silly Dilly Green Beans, and Tiny Tasty Tree Tops. In this study the researchers found that naming the veggies lead to a persistent, almost 100%, increase in selection when compared to a similar line offering unnamed vegetables.
The researchers concluded that, “These studies demonstrate that using an attractive name to describe a healthy food in a cafeteria is robustly effective, persistent, and scalable with little or no money or experience.” These changes were simple to implement. Moreover, any high school student or lunchroom staff could easily think up creative, fun names.
Just, David R., Matthew Z. Klinger, Collin R. Payne, Brian Wansink. “Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools.” Preventive Medicine 55 (2012): 330-332.