The nonprofit organization behind the popular children’s educational program Sesame Street will allow the produce industry to use Big Bird, Elmo and Sesame Street’s other characters free of charge to help market fruits and vegetables to kids.
The goal is to level the marketing playing field to give fresh fruits and vegetables a competitive edge over processed foods and, ultimately, encourage healthier eating habits among children.
The Sesame Street characters may appear on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.
Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in the two-year agreement, which was announced by First Lady Michelle Obama at a press conference late today.
“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” First Lady Michelle Obama said at a press conference today. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips.”
In her remarks, the First Lady cited a recent study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine conducted by researchers at Cornell University. Researchers gave kids a choice between eating an apple, a cookie or both and the vast majority of the kids chose the cookie. But when the researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let the kids choose again, nearly double the number of kids went for the apple.
“It’s no secret that many parents have a hard time getting kids excited about eating their fruits and vegetables,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “Today’s commitment helps all of us promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and gives parents and families a powerful, positive tool to help kids get excited about eating healthier foods.”
As part of the agreement, Sesame Workshop will create a produce promotion toolkit and style guide for use of the Sesame Workshop assets in promotional activities.
“Sesame Workshop has long been committed to the health and well-being of children through our longstanding Healthy Habits for Life initiative—since 2004, we have been integrating messages about healthy food choices and exercise into Sesame Street, the television program, in our community outreach and on our other off-air activities,” said H. Melvin Ming, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “We are proud to work with the Produce Marketing Association and Partnership for a Healthier America to continue this important work.”