Skip to main content

You're not dreaming. Cap’N Crunch IS staring at you

  • Author:
  • Updated:

If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping with a child, it’s probably not surprising to hear that kids are drawn to cereal boxes with cartoons on them.

But researchers from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab wanted to learn more about exactly why kids fall for certain cereal brands.

Their study confirms that cereals targeted at kids — usually the heavily sugared, less healthy variety — are placed lower on grocery shelves where kids can more easily see them.

Cereals aimed at adults are typically displayed about 48 inches off the ground, while cereals targeted at kids are usually displayed at about 23 inches.

But they also found the cartoon cereal spokescharacters on cereals targeted at kids are actually designed so that their eyes are looking 9.6 degrees down.

Turns out that's the perfect angle to make eye contact with a child standing in the aisle, NBC News reports.

By contrast, cereal boxes targeted at adults had spokescharacters that stared either straight ahead or slightly up at an average angle of inflection of 0.43 degrees.

The kid-friendly eye contact is effective, according to the Cornell study.

When researchers showed kids two different versions of a box of Trix, the box that had the rabbit spokescharacter looking downwards versus straight out increased brand trust by 16 percent and feelings of connection to the brand by 28 percent.

That difference could increase already healthy sales for cereal makers.

MinnPost reports that Frosted Flakes, with its Tony the Tiger character, brings in more than $267 million each year for Kellogg’s. And Honey Nut Cheerios, with its honey-wielding “bee,” rakes in more than $357 million annually for General Mills.

Professor Brian Wansink, one of the study authors, says the findings offer important guidance for parents. He recommends avoiding the cereal aisle if possible.

He also suggests that healthy cereal brands could beat sugar cereal brands at their own game by adding kid-friendly cartoon spokescharacters to their boxes.

“Put Scooby-Doo on the healthy cereals and have Scooby look right at them.”

Next Up

Walz, Flanagan

Minnesota reports massive projected budget surplus of $17.6 billion

The huge surplus comes as the DFL prepares to assume a trifecta of the Legislature and the Governor's House.


Boil water advisory issued for part of Minneapolis after water main break

The main break caused significant flooding in an area of North Minneapolis Monday evening.


Deals struck between nursing union and hospitals, potentially averting strike

A strike was scheduled to start on Dec. 11 if a deal was not reached.

Minnesota Solar Installation - All Energy Solar

Make the Most of your Solar Panels with Energy Storage

Solar energy is great during the day, but what happens when the sun goes down?

Screen Shot 2022-12-06 at 7.34.26 AM

Man dies after shooting on St. Paul's East Side

It happened on the same night a man was fatally shot by police in the nearby Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.

Police tape

St. Paul police hit man with squad car, fatally shoot him

Police said officers responded to a domestic incident involving the suspect Monday night.


Charges: Minnesota elementary school teacher sexually assaulted 3 boys

The incidents were captured on video taken inside an elementary school classroom.

Police tape

Person shot by police in St. Paul Monday evening

It happened around 6:10 p.m. on the city's East Side.

Kollie Jr.

Woman killed in Moorhead identified as suspect's mother

An appeal has been issued to find the suspect's vehicle, which remains missing.


Ticket details released for 5-week run of 'Hamilton' in Minneapolis

The tour of the production has been delayed twice due to the pandemic.


Minnesota Board of Pharmacy files lawsuit against 3 THC edible retailers

The board has received 46 complaints in the past four months regarding the products.