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The real reason that Kellogg’s claims Frosties is an “adult cereal”

They. Are. Literally. Just. Cornflakes. Covered. In. Sugar. 

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.

Photo: Getty
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Technology can change the world – provided we have a measure of democracy, too

You could say we need a technological revolution for the many, not the few. 

Over the last five decades, the American Consumer Technology Association’s annual jamboree has grown to become the world’s largest tech show: attracting over 190,000 visitors and 4000 companies, with 7,460 reporters filing 59,969 reports over the course of four days in Las Vegas. In the process, it has achieved an almost mythical status – from unveiling the first-ever home VCR (Philips 1970) to Bill Gates’ resignation from Microsoft in 2006, and has included cameo appearances by the likes of Jay-Z and Barack Obama.

As a fully qualified geek (Electrical Engineering degree, 20 years in tech – before it was cool) and the shadow minister for Industrial Strategy Science and Innovation, I couldn’t resist seizing the opportunity to venture to Las Vegas while on a family holiday to the US’ west coast; hoping, against all hope, to see the progressive future of a technology-enabled, more equal world.

If only.

But I did emerge with a renewed conviction that technology can solve our problems – if we use it to do so.

In some ways, the most remarkable thing about the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was the way it demonstrated how technology has taken over our entire world. CES was a car show in the middle of a health show, which happened to be around the corner from a home show, which was adjacent to a sports show that was next to an entertainment show. Just about every sector was represented.

Nissan had a huge stand for their new autonomous vehicle showcasing the ‘Brain-Vehicle Interface’, as did Philips for their new sleep enhancing devices, and Huawei for their connected home. In 2018, technology can be used as an enabling platform to aid just about everything. And in a world where near enough everything is politicised, technology is very political.

But this was not evident from CES: not from the stands, neither the keynotes, nor the participants. There were few speakers from civic society nor governments, and those politicians who attended – such as Donald Trump’s Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao – talked only of their ‘excitement’ at the sunlit uplands technology could guide us to. The show existed in its own, largely self-sufficient world. While Ford created an entire street to show off its autonomous cars, there was no reference to who would pay for the road, pavements, lamp-posts and guttering if only robots worked.

And as a politician rather than an engineer, it is the societal impact that matters most to me. One realisation brought about by my visit is that I have greatly under-estimated the consequences of driverless vehicles: communications, parking, urban layout, and public transport are all likely to be deeply impacted. The automobile industry is working to position cars as your personal moving office-cum-front room-cum-hotel-cum-lecture theatre; where you can work, maintain personal and social relationships, unwind and learn – all while going from A to B. How will crowded, under-funded public transport compete?

At the show, Nissan launched its Brain-to-Vehicle technology, which reads the driver’s brainwaves to determine when the car’s intelligence should intervene. Although I'm personally unsure about the inclusion of brain surveillance in the driving experience, it may well be the next logical step as we increasingly give up our data in return for ‘free’ services. Certainly the anthropologists at Nissan argued that this was the very definition of assisted artificial intelligence.

Fortunately, autonomous vehicles are not the only way to get around. Improvements in battery technology mean that – between electric scooters capable of folding away into airplane carry on, and electric bikes with the power of motorcycles – personal mobility has become a market in its own right.

Personal health and sport were also big themes at the event. Philips has brought back the night cap, which not only looks far more fetching than the Victorian original, but is now also capable of lulling you gently into a slumber before monitoring the quality of your sleep. Orcam’s discrete camera-glasses for the visually impaired can read text and recognise people, whilst L’Oréal’s UV Sense is a sensor small enough to be worn comfortably on your fingernail that detects ultraviolet exposure.

One aspect of the show that has remained largely unchanged is its demographics. Whilst the glossy adverts on the walls depict women and BME people using technology, those actually designing it were, with a few exceptions, male and largely white. As always, there were no queues for the women’s loos and while there were not any ‘F1 girls’, the gender balance was improved largely by attractive women, who were not engineers, being employed to ‘explain’ technological advances.

Weeks later, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos was also dominated by technology, which the Prime Minister used as a fig leaf to cover the absence of vision for Brexit. Lacking in both the CES and Davos, was any sense that the interests of the many had any significant stake in what was going on. We need a Labour government to help change that.

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, and the shadow minister for industrial strategy.