serving something else - Food Marketing Workgroup



serving something else - Food Marketing Workgroup
While Chuck E. Cheese’s claims “to bring families together in a wholesome environment for fun, games and kids,” the restaurant chain’s menu is far from wholesome. Excluding the salad bar*, the entire menu fails to meet basic nutrition standards. Most of the menu items are too high in calories, saturated fat, and/or sodium, making it hard for parents to find healthy options for their children. Do celebrations
have to harm kids’
2 slices of pizza, a soft drink with a refill, and a slice of birthday cake have about 980 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, 126 grams of sugar, and 1,250 mg of sodium. For a child (4 to 8 years old), that one meal uses up more than 3/4 of the calories a child should eat in a whole day and more than a whole day’s sodium. All of the sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and chicken wings—and most of the pizza—on the menu fail to meet USDA, industry, and expert nutrition standards for saturated fat and sodium. Their ham and cheese sandwich served with fries has more than double the amount of sodium a child should consume in one day. Chuck E. Cheese’s promotes soda, Gatorade, Tropicana fruit punch, and lemonade through the menu. Yet, sugary drinks are Photo from Chuck E. Cheese’s Facebook page. the top source of calories in children’s diets and the only food directly linked to obesity *Chuck E. Cheese’s offers a salad bar, which was not included in our nutrition analysis because nutrition information is not provided and there are unlimited combinations. Marketing
by the Mouse
Here are just some of the ways Chuck E. Cheese’s markets its unhealthy food directly to kids: On TV: In a sample of children’s programming in 2012, Chuck E. Cheese’s advertised on Nickelodeon, NBC, PBS, Univision, and the Hub. All but one of the food ads on PBS and NBC and more than half of the foods ads on Univision were for Chuck E. Cheese’s. Movies: Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza was promoted in the Thanksgiving-­‐
themed kids’ movie, Free Birds. Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza replaced turkey in the annual holiday menu. On Packages: The Chuck E. Cheese’s mouse appears on packages of Chuck E. Cheese’s-­‐
brand string cheese, shredded cheese, and yogurt squeezes, as well as Tyson’s Cheesy Chicken Nuggets. Digital: Chuck E. Cheese’s website has more than 20 games and activities featuring its mouse mascot, including downloadable songs, ringtones, and wallpaper. The website also features rewards calendars parents can use to bribe their kids to do their homework or clean their room and then reward them with free tokens at Chuck E. Cheese’s. At School: Chuck E. Cheese’s markets to children via school fundraising nights. As part of the event, the school receives branded promotional materials, and Chuck E., the company mascot, can visit the school during the school day. Teachers who attend the event receive a free meal, and 15% of sales go to the school. Chuck E. Cheese’s offers similar fundraising events to children’s charities, youth groups, and youth scouts. Birthday Parties: The restaurant chain offers three different birthday party packages. More than 2 million birthday parties are held at Chuck E. Cheese’s every year. Toys: The Chuck E. Cheese’s EZ-­‐2 Make! Pizza Maker was marketed as a way to bring Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza home for kids to make themselves. The plastic “oven” does not heat up; the pizza must be cooked in a microwave. The sauce is made by adding ketchup. In the cheese packet, cheese is listed as the third ingredient, behind maltodextrin and dextrose. Please tweet at Chuck E. Cheese’s (@chuckecheese) and urge the company to change their marketing practices and improve their menu offerings.