X-Ray Vision Carrots appeal to picky preschoolers

Do you have a picky preschooler who's avoiding their veggies? A new Cornell University study, funded by a Healthy Eating Research Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that giving vegetables catchy new names - like X-Ray Vision Carrots and Tomato Bursts - left preschoolers asking for more, reports Medical News Today.

When 186 four-year olds were given carrots called "X-Ray Vision Carrots" they ate nearly twice as much as they did on the lunch days when they were simply labeled as "carrots." Even more notable, the study also showed the influence of these names might persist. Children continued to eat about 50 percent more carrots even on the days when they were no longer labeled.

"Cool names can make for cool foods," says lead author Brian Wansink. "Whether it be 'power peas' or 'dinosaur broccoli trees,' giving a food a fun name makes kids think it will be more fun to eat. And it seems to keep working - even the next day."

Lest you think it’s only children that love catchy names, similar results have been found with adults. A restaurant study showed that when the Seafood Filet was changed to "Succulent Italian Seafood Filet," sales increased by 28 percent and taste rating increased by 12 percent. "Same food, but different expectations, and a different experience," said Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Eat More Than We Think."

Although the study was conducted in pre-schools, the researchers believe the same naming tricks can work with older children. "I've been using this with my kids," said researcher Collin Payne, "Whatever sparks their imagination seems to spark their appetite."