Those food marketers may know something, after all

I'm worried that my kids aren't eating enough chocolate and French fries. Their margarine and ketchup intake is low, too.

Actually, I'm not worried about these things, but several leading food manufacturers are. That's why they've invented chocolate French fries, green ketchup, and blue and pink squeeze margarine. No kidding.

Personally, I've never had to tell my kids, "Eat all your chocolate, because there are children without candy in some foreign country that the Hershey's company hasn't discovered yet." Nor have I had to sit patiently while my kids lamented, "Are we having French fries again?!" the way they do about broccoli-chicken casserole.

I think chocolate French fries sound gross, but, because I'm a scientific-minded guy, I gave the high-powered food-marketing executives the benefit of the doubt. To confirm their product-enhancement decisions, I decided to conduct a dinnertime focus group of the three children in our household. Not a random sample, but three typical kids – ages 6, 4, and 11 months.

"Tonight, instead of the usual pleasant dinner conversation," I began, "I will ask a few questions about your eating habits. First question. What is your favorite ..."

"Dad, what are we having for dessert?" interrupts my 4-year-old.

"If we answer all the questions, can we have two desserts?" pleads my 6-year-old.

"You forgot to say grace," my wife reminds me.

I lead my family in prayer, then continue my questioning. "If you had a choice between eating Brussels sprouts or spinach, which would you pick?"

"Could I put ketchup on them?" asks my 6-year-old. She would eat wood chips if they were covered in ketchup.

"Nope. No ketchup."

"Don't be gross, Dad." she says, rolling her eyes.

Our 11-month-old, who can't talk yet, stuffs half of a grilled-cheese sandwich into her mouth and smiles broadly. I take that to mean she agrees with her 6-year-old sibling.

Next question. "Of the following three things, which is not mandatory at meals:

"1. grace

"2. manners

"3. cheese."

"We don't need cheese if we're eating macaroni and cheese," answers my 4-year-old. "It already has cheese in it."

Our 11-month-old, who is now crawling under the table, discovers a piece of hotdog and pops it into her mouth. I'm taken aback, not because she's eating off the floor, but because we haven't eaten hotdogs since Thursday.

Last question. "What do you think of chocolate French fries?" I ask.

"Ewww! Chocolate French fries!?" they shout in unison, "That's gross! Can we buy some?"

I follow up: "How do you feel about green ketchup?"

"Yuck! That's disgusting! Could we put the green ketchup on the chocolate French fries?"

Maybe those food-marketing executives aren't so crazy after all.

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