Supplemental Questions to NYTimes article: Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Base your answers on themes, discussions, and research highlighted in the article, Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, and not on your personal preferences.  We’ll use these questions to begin discussion about the politics and science of eating and to formulate tactics to generate greater demand for our products. You can also use these questions to guide your reading.

To improve reading comprehension skills, write down two to three questions after finishing each section.  Then read section again.  Asking questions will teach you to engage with the reading, rather than trying to memorize it (and never understand it).  I’ve found this to be the fastest way to improve reading comprehension.


1. You’re the CEO of General Mills.  GM shareholders, mostly middle-class folks who are saving for retirement or education, are expecting you to increase value of their stock holdings.  What’s the best way to increase their value?
a) Line extend best selling products to attract wider demographic.  Add more sugar to most of these products.
b) Invest most research capital to develop new line of healthy snacks to attract growing demographic of health conscious consumers who are willing to pay a premium for such items.
c)  Keep doing what works.  Step up marketing of the same items.  Put it on TV enough times, people will buy more.

2. When average consumer purchases a snack, what’s their primary concern?
a) health
b) taste
c) cost

3. People are least likely to grow tired of which item, assuming they have to eat each everyday?
a) White bread
b) Doritos, extra, extra sharp nacho cheese flavor
c)  Buffalo wings dipped in heavy ranch dressing.

4. Which item are people most likely to love at first but quickly get sick of if they have to eat it everyday?
a) Rye bread
b) Cheetos, extra cheese.
c) Kale salad w/oil and vinaigrette dressing

5. What has most impact on how much someone likes a drink?
a) color of drink
b) whether or not drink contains fair trade ingredients
c) how healthy it is.

6. What’s the most pressing issue facing working mothers preparing lunch for their kids?
a) time
b) health
c) cost

7. Why do baby boomers, as a whole, eat fewer salty snacks than those in their teens and 20s?
a) Their palates become more sophisticated as they mature.
b) They become more concerned about their health as they age.
c) They ate fewer salty snacks when they were in their teens and 20s than does current generation of teenagers and twenty-somethings.

8. Why are soft drink companies so successful at targeting “poor” communities?
a) They provide the poor with more calories per dollar than most other food items
b) Poor consider drinking soda a sign of middle-class modernity
c) The poor have poor palates, so they’re more likely to drink soda

9. What would be the most effective way to increase sales of Coke to “poor” communities in Venezuela?
a) Send attractive, middle-class sales people into these communities with samples of Coke.
b) Develop a healthier and affordable version of Coke and convince these communities that Coke is a healthy drink
c) Develop a version of Coke and appeals to local tastes and sensibilities.

10. Imagine yourself as CEO of Lunchables and you’re tasked with making your packaged meals healthier.  What are the salient obstacles you’ll encounter?
a) Coordinating timeline for processed foods with timeline for non-processed foods (supply chain and logistics)
b) Keeping prices low enough so consumers will purchase them.
c) Creating a large enough demographic that’s interested in “healthy” snacks.

11. Why are Lunchables so popular with kids?
a) They love the added salt, fat, and sugar in the meal. It tastes great!
b) They’ve grown accustomed to it because that’s what they’ve always eaten.
c) Lunchables empowers them by letting them put together what they want to eat when they want.

12. What will most likely happen if a kid receives a packed lunch consisting of an apple, kale salad w/olive-vinegar dressing, and a lightly salted sauteed, and a Snickers bar?
a)  Eat the Snickers bar first, take a bite of the apple, toss the kale salad, take two bites of the salmon.
b) Eat the kale salad first, then the salmon, then the apple, and finally the Snickers bar
c)  Eat the Snickers bar then kick the shit out of the kid w/Twix bar and eat his Twix.

13. What’s the best way to market snacks to middle-age baby boomers?
a) Give them something new, something that differentiates them from their kids. Label it guilt-free but give the same amount of salt, fat, and sugar as what’s sold to younger demographic, but in smaller package.
b) Give them something new, something with very little salt, fat, and sugar.  Label it healthy.
c) Give them what they had growing up in a different, more age appropriate package.

14. Which item would sell best with middle-class baby boomers, assuming same amount of salt and fat?
a) Doritos, extra nacho cheese
b) Toasted pita chips
c) Non-fat Cheetos



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