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Study Team

Allison Karpyn, University of Delaware (PI); Michael Allen, Brandywine Zoo (Co-I)

What we wanted to learn and why it matters

Concession stands are notoriously places where less healthy, high salt, sugar and fat products are offered for sale. While work has been done nationally to help improve the products sold and marketed to children and families in venues like workplaces and schools, little attention has been given to zoos and parks, despite their appeal to children. This study worked with the Brandywine Zoo to test an animal-focused marketing campaign on menu boards at the concession stand, while simultaneously working with the zoo to test consumer receptivity to healthier concession products.

What we did and learned

We learned that items such as bananas, water as well as small packs of nuts and yogurt were well received by customers. We also found that there was a significant increase in healthy food purchases if an animal character icon (Tastimal) was placed next to the item on the menuboard. The study was later expanded and served as the basis for 2 more studies including one funded by the USDA.

To read more about this study

Karpyn, A., Allen, M., Marks, S., Filion, N., Humphrey, D., Ye, A., May, H., & Gardner, M. P. (2017). Pairing Animal Cartoon Characters With Produce Stimulates Selection Among Child Zoo Visitors. Health Education & Behavior, 44(4), 581–589.

Karpyn, A., Sawyer-Morris, G., Grajeda, S., Tilley, K., & Wolgast, H. (2020). Impact of Animal Characters at a Zoo Concession Stand on Healthy Food Sales. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 52(1), 80–86.