A rant follows. Be prepared.
Soooooo … a few weeks ago we headed off to a sixth birthday party at Hungry Jack’s. The children spent an hour or so racing around the play equipment and sneaking loads of the sweet treats the party host had laid on, before lining up to order their lunch.
There they were – these little people – almost all of whom were five and six years old. After choosing their food they were offered a choice of … Coke, Diet Coke, two more fizzy drinks (I think it was Fanta and some kind of lemonade) and finally water.
You read that right – the first thing the children were offered was Coke. Coca Cola. Chock full of caffeine and sugar. And colouring. Diet Coke. Still caffeine and colouring. (And, depending on your position, artificial sweeteners).
I absolutely understand that some of my opinions about food can be a little … um … shall we say? … militant. So I thought I’d canvass opinions from parents at another six year old’s birthday party a week later.
But guess what? When it comes to giving a five or six year old Coke, it would appear I’m not that mother. OK – my sample size was small and most definitely not random but no one thought it was appropriate. NO ONE.
I called Hungry Jack’s out about this on Facebook. The response was swift and asked me to send in my feedback through the website. I was impressed at the rapid response and did so.
And then I got the response.
It opened with platitudes thanking me for providing feedback and giving the company the opportunity to improve.
And then …
The drinks you were offered for your child at the birthday party you attended at <redacted>, are the standard offerings for our birthday parties. Water is of course offered as a healthier choice for the children, as we understand that not all parents like their children to consume soft drink. For your future information, you can also request juice as an alternative, but this comes with an additional charge. I will pass your comments onto our Marketing Team, and I thank you for your feedback.
Of course, I’ve heard nothing from the marketing team.
I get that a child’s birthday party is a fun time, full of sweets and treats – including chocolate with its share of caffeine. I have no problem allowing my son to eat all sorts of stuff that would never make an appearance on the dinner table at home. I’d actually be (kind of) OK if Hungry Jack’s beverage options were Fanta, lemonade and water.
But Coke? That’s where I get ticked off.
Not only is caffeine is chemically addictive, Coke is laden with sugar. Given that 1 in 4 children in Australia is clinically overweight* just maybe Hungry Jack’s has a corporate responsibility to not serve small children addictive, sugar laden fizzy pop.
Or maybe not. Maybe I am that mother, after all.