by Marion Nestle
Sep 11 2010

The latest in marketing genius: “Baby” Carrots

Eat them like junk food! That’s the slogan of the new, over-the-top advertising campaign for “baby” carrots. I put “baby” in quotes because they aren’t.

I hate to be the one to break this to you but baby carrots are plain old ordinary adult carrots, cut and scraped into baby-size pieces.

Mind you, I’m a nutritionist and we do love carrots. And the CDC says only about one-quarter of Americans eat three servings of vegetables a day.

But $25 million to sell them on the basis of sex (I’m not kidding) or, violence (sigh)?

Well, at least they aren’t marketing these to kids.  For that, we have to go back a few years to the Sponge Bob “baby” carrots of 2006 or so (see below).  I haven’t seen those packages lately.  Guess that idea didn’t work.

Will this new campaign work any better?

[Thanks to Michael Bulger for sending the links.]

  • Renee

    I hate those “baby” carrots. They taste like cardboard, regardless of how cute the packaging.

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  • kristina

    I don’t see the big deal.

  • I refer to these objects as “cheater carrots” – they work reasonably well for stews and braises, and eliminate a lot of work and waste.
    They shred nicely in a food processor for carrot cake, too, another recipe that doesn’t really rely on big carrot flavor from good, fresh carrots.

  • @sundevilpeg, It doesn’t eliminate the waste of carrots. You just aren’t the one charged with cleaning up. I might even argue to say that more waste is created. It is all an illusion.

    I switched to adult carrots before reading an Omnivore’s Dilemma, because I tried to make baby food from baby carrots. I boiled those suckers for an hour and they never got soft. I decided something must be not right and switched to regular ones. One problems ever since, and I like the taste better.

    Besides–what waste? You don’t even need to peel carrots, especially organic ones-no pesticide residue!

  • Sorry–meant to write “No” problems ever since 🙂

  • Yeah, so overly priced baby carrots aren’t ideal…but they do certainly beat most junk foods. They are overly processed in terms of carrots, but they don’t have a tenfold list of preservatives and additives attached to them. They’re much better than the overly priced 100 calorie packs that are such the rage.

  • Subvert

    1. buy whole carrots (they’re cheaper); 2. peel and cut carrots; 3. put into reusable lunch container…who can’t do this for themselves?

    The ineptness of our mordern society…

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  • I switched from “baby” carrots after reading about the bleaching process they use before packaging them. UCK!

  • Actually, it’s my understanding that part of this campaign will be aimed at kids, including selling the bags in school vending machines and doing Halloween tie-ins. We’ve been having a lively discussion about this over at my blog:

    Spoonfed: Raising kids to think about the food they eat

  • Personally, I don’t find “baby carrots” to be carrots.

    1. I do not find them in the farmer’s market.

    2. They’ve had their skin stripped away, which has much of it’s healthy goodness.

    3. Tasteless.

    Is it even food?

  • Anthro


    We agree again! But I don’t even peel carrots, just give ’em a scrub with the scrubbie-sponge and rinse.
    As to those who mention waste, I compost all that. I wonder what the baby carrot plant does with it? They feel slimy to me sometimes. I only get them for veggie platters I take to events, but have thrown them in the compost when they seem slimy.

    I wonder why they won’t cook?–I found that to be true as well.

  • Kate

    I don’t like baby carrots – they are always slimy!

  • Somehow, I suspect the marketing heads will be disappointed. The success to selling produce to kids it not in the packaging, but in the flavor. My mother is a foreign language teacher, so they do “food days” and she often has to ration the carrot sticks (from whole carrots, organic) and peaches in order to have enough for all her classes. Kids have taste buds and will eat things that are naturally ripe and sweet.

  • Sheila

    while I agree it seems silly to have so much marketing and processing for basic natural product, I almost don’t even care if it just gets people to eat carrots! Now, maybe they can go to work on getting people to eat other good-for-you foods.

  • When did we need to treat carrots like a movie star? Do they need all that handling? Scraping to get down to a cute size?

    At the time I read this story, I immediately thought of the waste, processing, and packaging that is involved with promoting baby carrots in this way. And the marketing dollars behind this will only to go raise prices…making healthy food unobtainable for those who need it most.

    There has to be a better way for parents to improve their child’s nutrition. This is not the answer.

  • Jon

    Marion, I’d like to introduce you to Rule 34, which states “If it exists, there’s porn of it.” Rules 1-33, by the way, are “You do not talk about the Internet.” So selling carrots to kids on the basis of sex is going straight to Rule 34.

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  • Waste

    I think the girl in the video is hot! But I would never put one of those carrots into my mouth. In the early 80’s, I could only get baby carrots out of France fresh enough to serve my customers, but there are some real ones available now, thank heavens.

  • It may be a cheesy marketing campaign and built around making money, but if it gets people eating more carrots instead of potato chips, I’m okay with that.

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