The New York Times writer Michael Moss recently asked a top ad agency to hypothetically come up with a marketing campaign for broccoli, in an attempt to illustrate how healthier eating could possibly be marketed to Americans. Along with Moss’s terrific piece in the NY Times Magazine this past weekend, he co-produced a very fun video which is sure to please any Mad Men enthusiast.
Well, all this resulted in a ridiculous number of really terrible puns and jokes passed between Disney Dads editors and bloggers over the past couple days (geeks will be geeks.) Needless to say, the idea that broccoli would be the next “it” vegetable (bleh!) and (according to one hypothetical ad campaign) would challenge equally nerdy opponent “kale” to a mano-a-mano grabbed our attention and fueled our amusement.
If you think marketing something like a vegetable is a bit absurd and a sign that mankind and consumerism have truly reached all time lows, you might be right. After all, the fall of man itself was centered around a piece of produce (the apple) and a very persuasive marketing campaign (otherwise known as ‘psssst, hey Eve, eat this!’)
Not that there haven’t been other foods placed in our minds and on our plates in between — did you ever think you’d know what quinoa is much less how to pronounce it? Ever think you’d see bumper stickers promoting kale, of all things? Or that you’d be able to use “Omega-3 Fatty Acid” in a sentence and not have to explain what the heck you were referring to?
Besides asking the fancy ad agency to hypothetically take on broccoli as an account, the NY Times also posted an online challenge for the rest of us: come up with a slogan or branding concept for any of the following vegetables: peas, cauliflower, beets, cabbage or turnips. It could be a fun thing to enlist your kids’ creativity in next time they turn up their noses at the green stuff on their dinner plate.
Here at Disney Dads, we asked ourselves this: Would the comically aggressive (albeit hypothetical) broccoli v. kale campaign work on us? Would it be unconsciously persuasive enough to REALLY make us eat that green stalky flowery sh*t?
As Matthew Barry aptly puts it, “Kale vs. Broccoli would be like watching the two least popular kids in class fight each other to see who will get chosen second-to-last.“
David Noel Edwards, our resident culinary aesthete (oh, we are so not joking,) said “My pro-broccoli bias eliminates all pretense of journalistic objectivity. It’s like asking Fox News whether taxes ought to be cut for the rich. Fact is, I can’t be objective about broccoli, because broccoli isn’t objective about me: This common member of the cabbage family has singled me out to experience a kind of eating pleasure typically associated with forbidden desserts and sauteed parsnips.
“I suppose I ought to be grateful that my children love broccoli almost as much as I do. But it raises more than a few questions in their father’s mind: Have they, too, been singled out for frankly unusual broccoli enjoyment? Do they ever wish they could be more like other children? Is their broccoliphilia inherited or learned? Will it hurt their prospects for getting jobs in the public sector?
“I guess I’ll never know the answers to these questions. I may as well focus on more important things. Like, which sauce is best for broccoli. Béarnaise or hollandaise?”
Lawrence Vaughan offered some, uh, historical context. “General Dwight David Eisenhower included in the Marshall Plan, spearheaded by General George C. Marshall, a plan to include in all donated fresh salads for Europe post-WW II, broccoli florets. However, due to their aggressive nomenclature, asparagus spears and tomato clusters were excluded on principle. As for leafy greens such as Romaine Lettuce and Kale, they were allowed in the mix despite their similarity to camo of that era.”
Doug Liles made it clear that he wasn’t going to be strong-armed by nobody, no-how, to eat broccoli, unless drowned in disgusting amounts of rich sauces to mask the flavor. “On the topic of plain steamed broccoli,” he says, “the kids and I must unite.
“Like yoga, scented candles and power walking, there are many things that are good for us, but we must draw the line because tongues were made for fun, especially when there is cheese sauce to dress up the dance in our mouth.
“Dads know this (and there’s a John Candy in all of us). Calories and fat may kill us young, but at least we had some fun. Before we settle down for the special dining of the day, let us gather before the throne of sauces that must touch every entrée. It’s got be savory, spicy, sweet or sour to gain our interest. We don’t want to riot, but if you don’t want us sneaking off to our special stash of comfort as we sleepwalk to the cupboard in the middle of night, just accept that we must have a mix that leaps and bounds in our mouth, just like a jumpee at birthday party. Heck with it all, you only live once, and the dog doesn’t like it either. When you break out the broccoli you got to dress it up or we’ll all be sulky. Chores won’t get done, there won’t be nary a care, it’s a cascading effect. But you put on our favorite sauce, we’ll be pleading for seconds…and to do the dishes!
“Oh, we can settle for Edamame, but don’t forget copious amounts of kosher salt.”
Craig Yoshihara, on the other hand, said this: “As a pastor, I really can’t condone violence on any level. Today it’s broccoli vs. kale, tomorrow will it be carrots? Potatoes? Where will the madness end? What will happen to all the kale farmers forced to convert their crops to broccoli mid-season? What happens when I want to make braised cauliflower or Brussels sprouts? Will I have to instead make broccoli rice casserole? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. One person’s broccoli is another person’s corn on the cob. Anyway, I see where all of this is leading. An NCAA-like vegetable tournament where 64 vegetables will come together and face off against one another until a winner is declared. Vegas odds-makers will be encouraging people to “Bet on Broccoli” whereas poor alfalfa sprouts will be given 200-1 chances of winning. In the end, it will encourage us to hate other vegetables, leading to a wide-spread epidemic on vegetable gambling, and weed out some of those lesser known, but equally beloved vegetables who just don’t have enough of the “big name” companies to support them. Stop this before it becomes utter chaos!”
While we ridicule the idea of broccoli and kale duking it out with tongues in cheeks, we do recognize vegetables are good for us, gulp, and definitely good for our kids. If we force them onto the plates of our children, then we probably have to (sigh) eat them ourselves too.