Aaaah, so it’s that damn monkey’s fault. You know the one I mean? That cheeky little primate who has swung around the packs of Coco Pops for nearly half a century screeching “Just like a chocolate milkshake only crunchy!”
Apparently he’s the reason why our kids are getting fatter, he and that wicked lion promoting paddlepops. Oh, and some cowboy called Bill and a toucan called Sam are also involved in this plot to fatten up our kids.
I must say I always resented that wretched monkey. His name was Coco, and every time I saw him cavorting across my television screen during the 60s I wanted to switch channels. He got up my nose big time, fundamentally because I was so resentful over the fact that he never swung around to my house. He was banned from our cupboards, replaced by what my mother saw as more sensible offerings such as Weetbix and Cornflakes.
I hankered for sleepovers at friend’s houses, friends whose mums were obviously legends because they were allowed to have Coco Pops. I yearned also for our pilgrimages to Queensland to visit the relies. Although we’d always drive north in one day, our trip back south took two which meant staying in Kempsey for the night in a motel. That meant room service and that mean a huge tick next to the box sporting Coco Pops!
Now I read that my little monkey nemesis maybe wiped from all packaging and promotions under a Cancer Council proposal to ban cartoon characters and sports stars from spruiking unhealthy childrens’ foods. Toucan Sam, Bubble O’Bill’s cowboy and the Paddle Pop lion are also under threat.
I don’t have any memory of Bill, and Sam never did it for me, but I do remember eating chocolate paddlepops. Every time mum worked canteen at school she would shout my mates and I a paddle pop. They were just 5c and I remember the way we used to saviour them on hot, sunny days, licking them into all sorts of shapes until the last delicious bit slid into our mouths.
The lion had nothing to do with the experience, just like Coco didn’t when I enjoyed the rare treat of eating Coco Pops. What I remember is not being allowed to have Coco Pops at home and being allowed to have the occasional treat of a paddle pop at school.
So what clearly has been impressionable on me is the fact that my mum made the rules in our household when it came to food.
Fast forward a few decades and we have a Cancer Council nutritionist frantically waving a study revealing that nearly 74 per cent of promotional characters on Australian food packets promoted products to children which would fail healthy nutritional standards.
The Obesity Policy Coalition senior policy adviser Jane Martin also weighed in saying children are vulnerable to powerful endorsements from cartoon characters and sports stars on unhealthy foods, while the Parents’ Jury has gone a step further suggesting plain packaging may be the answer.
When I was growing up our we didn’t have a parents jury, and our Obesity Policy Coalition senior policy adviser had a different title.
She was called mum.
She was the health regulator in our household because she called the shots about what went into our cupboards and what didn’t.
She had no fancy title, no nutritionists waving studies, nor any Parents’ Jury telling her how to control pester power. Her biggest weapon against our pester power was one simple word.
And that was the end of it. Mum just said no, and that got the monkey off her back very quickly.
Do cartoon characters decide what you put in your cupboard?