Markup in the Writing Classroom

Genre: essay

Student id: li.em

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They're Magically...Nutritious?

General Mills created Lucky Charms in 1964 as the perfect children's cereal: “toasted oats” for a healthful breakfast with marshmallow “charms” to appeal to a child’s taste buds (General Mills). Today, their targeted consumers have flip-flopped-- or better worded, they are still the same consumers, who are now adults. Lucky Charm’s targeted consumers have two roles: one as parents of young children, and the other as sentimental adults who remember the joy of eating the sugary cereal.

Lucky charms are aimed at adults as parents, but more importantly as consumers. Lucky charms uptakes as a sentimental piece of childhood for adults to enjoy again. To begin with, the cereal’s outward appearance looks mostly unchanged from the original box. There is still the bright red color of the box and the large yellow Lucky Charms logo. Lucky the Leprechaun is still overtaken with joy as he presents his charms and a rainbow. This unwavering appearance will immediately take an adult back to pouring cereal out of the same box as a kid. The appearance is hence, uptaken positively, and hopefully enough to make a former consumer a current consumer, as it may drive those to ‘relive’ a positive experience.

If adults are not moved to buy Lucky Charms for themselves, then they are buying for their children. Lucky charms have managed to still be relevant in a health-crazed 2016 through the rhetorical choice of using health buzzwords on every panel of the cereal box. To stay on trend with food in America today, Lucky Charms happily announce that the cereal is gluten free (Luckycharms.com). They changed the way they process the cereal so no gluten gets mixed in, just to be able to label their cereal as pseudo-healthy. "Gluten-free" has become an attention-grabbing label for food products, that has somehow been automatically been associated with ‘healthy.’ Of course, there are people, such as Celiac Disease sufferers (1% of the population), who legitimately cannot consume gluten, but many Americans have fallen victim to marketing glamorizing being "“gluten-free.”" Furthermore, whole grains are another idolized phrase in the food industry. Lucky Charms assures parents that the cereal has "“11 grams of whole grains per serving”" (Lucky Charms). Even though there is 10 grams of sugar per ¾ of a cup, which is about half the total daily sugar allowance for an eight year old child, Lucky Charms and General Mills wants parents to believe the cereal is a nutritious breakfast (Family Education). These words create a smoke screen which allow parents to believe, whether they truly do or not, that Lucky Charms are not as unhealthy as common sense would lead one to believe. This allows parents to feel better about allowing their children to eat the cereal, and for them to maybe grab a bowl as well.

Finally, Lucky Charms aims to cast parents in the role of a responsible consumer, which would make them feel good about purchasing Lucky Charms. On one side panel of the cereal box, General Mills outlines all the ways it is benefiting the world. General Mills, the company that produces Lucky Charms, says they are “committed to sustainably source 100% of our cereal boxes by 2020.” As nice as this sounds, it is quite vague, and they offer no further reading on the topic. They also printed on the back that they are “giving back” through the Box Tops for Education™. Again, this sounds nice and wholesome, and it is. However, everything from office supplies to frozen meals also participate in this program, making it an industry norm, not setting General Mills apart. The most deceptive part of the cereal box is where they tote that Lucky Charms has 10 grams of sugar per serving, as if that is healthy. As mentioned before, 10 grams of sugar is almost half the allotment for kids aged 2-18 (American Heart Association). And, most kids (or adults) will eat more than the ¾ cup serving size. These true yet deceptive claims made on the side of the cereal box are not to fill up space, they are to convince consumers (parents) that buying Lucky Charms is a good choice not only for the health of you and your child, but also for the environment.

The genre of Lucky Charms is a cereal that is being targeted at adults-- but not parents, adult consumers. A cereal as explicitly unhealthy as Lucky Charms, it is still relevant in a health crazed 2016 America because General Mills has focussed on eliciting wholesome and sentimental feelings from adults to drive sales. Lucky Charms has managed to exploit common “buzzwords” of health to mask the fact that the cereal is still sugar-coated, processed oar and marshmallows. Yet, they are still admittedly quite magically delicious.

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