Breakfast cereal giant Kellogg’s has announced that it will reduce its sugar content by up to 40 per cent in its Coco Pops and Rice Krispies. But one of its worst sugar offenders, Frosties, will not have its sugar cut; because Kellogg’s claims that it is mainly eaten by adults.
This may come as a surprise to some, but – Frosties are almost definitely not good for you. Whilst sugar is disguised in many other cereals, for Frosties it is the name of the game, the be all and end all. They are literally covered in glorious, white crystals of the sweet stuff. There’s approximately 11 grams of sugar in a single bowl, according to a study by World Action on Salt and Health. That’s almost half of the daily recommended sugar intake of a child aged between seven and 10. So they’re probably not something you want your children to eat every morning before school.
According to Kellogg’s, Tony the Tiger, the cartoon character featured on every box of Frosties, is an “adult cartoon” which appeals to millennials in their twenties and thirties. You and I must have both missed Tony trending on Instagram. It’s fair to say that there’s something extremely suspect about the supposed maturity gap between Coco Pops and Frosties. Presumably, people in their twenties and thirties prefer tigers to monkeys, or something. Jenny Rosborough, a campaign manager at Action on Sugar, told the Daily Telegraph: “I am not convinced that Tony the Tiger doesn’t appeal to children.” Well, you don’t say.
Every parent knows the dreaded feeling of taking your children up the breakfast aisle, past rows and rows of chocolate-covered, sugar-coated treats. The association between cartoon characters and sugar in cereals has gone on for years and is, quite frankly, the sort of thing you’d expect a villain to come up with in his underground lair. It also plays a major factor in continuing child obesity, poor oral health and diabetes.
Research has shown that advertising plays a huge role in the consumption of sugary cereals. Children who watch 20 TV adverts featuring sugary breakfast cereals per week eat 30 per cent more of them than children who do not watch any. The evil plan to market sugar at children has largely succeeded. Our kids have been turned into helpless drones. “I want that one, Daddy,” they say, pointing at the cardboard boxes adorned with pink princesses or action superheroes. Oh yes, there is the sexism too. There is always the sexism.
As a kind of compromise, Kellogg’s have promised to stop on-pack promotions aimed at children on Frosties (the kind where you get a free toy with your box of increased heart-disease risk). The fact that they were doing this to begin with speaks volumes about the supposed target age-range for Frosties. But Tony the Tiger will remain on the box, grinning at your children from the shelves laden with sugary gifts. In most pictures, Tony has no teeth. It really does make you think, doesn’t it.
Of course, the real reason that Kellogg’s won’t reduce the sugar content of Frosties is simple – it can’t. When Kellogg’s conducted trials of Frosties which contained 30 percent less sugar, it failed to catch customer’s attention. Partly because They. Are. Literally. Just. Cornflakes. Covered. In. Sugar. And herein lies the crux of the problem: there is no need for Frosties to exist. There never has been. My granddad regularly sprinkles sugar over his cornflakes, and you can too.
Frosties are supposedly designed to cater for adults, so it is time Kellogg’s started treated us like adults, too. We are perfectly capable of buying cornflakes and sugar separately. Kellogg’s – it is time to put Tony in retirement. Get rid of Frosties from our shelves once and for all.
Bryan Blears is a health campaigner.