Yesterday I bought some Gushers for Tim. In case you don't know, these are basically nutritionally worthless little candies disguised as good-for-you lunch snacks. I bought them because they were cheap and he always asks for them (I don't think he's ever had any before)--I figured they could work as incentives. It reminded Katie that when she was little, some other kids and she were discussing whether they were any good. The ads at the time had them all convinced that if you ate Gushers, you would turn inside out. Somehow this appealed to the kids. Kieth, the squirrelly kid who cut his hair the morning of picture day, had tried them. Emily asked him whether they worked--had he turned inside out? No, came the disappointed answer. This was an important lesson for them all in the deceptive nature of advertising.
It reminded me of when I watched Captain Kangaroo. (In case you don't know this, he hasn't been on the air since I was a kid.) Well, Captain Kangaroo had a lot of credibility with me. Why, I'm not sure. Maybe it was the fact that he could talk to rabbit and moose puppets and keep a straight face. I trusted him. Until one fateful day when he said that a certain brand of hot dogs were really good. I ran in and told my mom that Captain Kangaroo recommended them and she should buy them. "Don't you know that he's paid to say that?" she answered. Paid? I was aghast. From then on I watched with a less gullible attitude.
In another way it reminds me of the mysterious case of the spinach. My mom would serve canned spinach (perhaps she didn't know that it was much lovelier fresh). A dark, mossy green blob would sit on my plate, cold and hated. She would give me a spoonful of Miracle Whip to make it more appealing. The name was a misnomer--no miracle occurred...that is, until my father spoke. "Spinach puts hair on your chest!" he said, and suddenly the pile had value. Daddy had hair on his chest, and I wanted to be just like him. As a little girl, I didn't know I ought to be more selective in the traits I sought. Years later I realized how he must have been chuckling to himself as he saw me force the stuff down my throat.