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Too Much TV? Feed 'em Donuts.

Asma Attaoui holds a rack of donuts at a Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Boston. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

You'll want to watch the new Dunkin' Donuts TV ad more than once, just to be sure you've got it right.

Three kids (and a dog) are in a darkened room, watching television. Something emanates from the screen (must be a "tractor beam," because that's the commercial's name) fixes on each child and suspends the kids in mid-air, drawing them toward the TV.

Just in the nick of time, a man -- must be Dad -- appears in the doorway and announces he's got Dunkin' Donuts. The kids swarm to the kitchen table and dig into the box for some "family time," as the voiceover puts it.

Along with lots of fat and sugar.

If I'm reading the commercial correctly, it posits donuts as a good way to wrest kids away from the tube. I'm no health-food fanatic, and I'm not the world's best parent. But this seems off-key even to me. Are the folks at Dunkin' Donuts suggesting that donuts (which I prefer to spell "doughnuts," but I'll go with the flow for now) are better for kids than TV?

I spoke to a Dunkin' Donuts p.r. person on Thursday but haven't yet been put in touch with a spokesperson who can share the company's thinking. I'll let you know when I get to talk with someone there.

In the meantime, anybody care to chime in? Is this commercial as weird as it seems to me? Or am I taking it a bit too seriously?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 6, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A Warning on 4,800-Calorie Burger? Lighten Up!
Next: Adventures in Yogurt-Making


We thought the same thing when we saw it. And since Dunkin Donuts has been trying to revamp their image into a place where you can get healthier fare (oh please), this particular commercial really stuck out. I guess they felt it's been long enough that everybody's forgotten Anthony Bordain so publicly said they are partly responsible for the childhood obesity.

Still, if doughnuts saved the kids, what's going to save the dog?

Posted by: sarahabc | April 6, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Almost anything is better than kids sitting transfixed in front of the TV. Hopefully after a donut they will go outside and run around or ride bikes or chase a ball or anything. That donut will disappear soon enough.

Posted by: 2horses | April 6, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

There have been a lot of similar ads lately: using fried chicken, pizza, cruises (not unhealthy, but awfully expensive), etc. to pry kids away from their electronic gizmos and get them to interact with the family. All of them bother me because they imply that parents have no control over their kids except to offer them material goods as incentives. For heaven's sake, whatever happened to parental discipline? If you want your kids to watch less TV, set a rule about how much TV they can watch, and then stick to it. Furthermore, if parents create good family time from a young age, with fun discussions and loving interactions, kids will want to participate (at least till they hit adolescence).

Posted by: crazycatlady | April 6, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

It is weird, especially because in the real world, I'm pretty sure the kids would just take their donuts right back to the couch!

Posted by: pflugrad-dpf | April 6, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

This is another example to support what my husband and I have believed for years: the commercials are the worst thing about tv. How about that old Swiffer commercial where a kid throws something all over the floor for the mom to clean up – the focus is on how well that Swiffer does its job, not at all on what should be considered unacceptable kid behavior. Or the current commercial with a kid telling his mother he refuses to eat what she “proposes” to make him for dinner. Is this normal, acceptable kid behavior? Not in my house. And don’t even get me started with the cell phone commercials with the impudent kids who assert some entitlement to such-and-such phone plan. These commercials outline normal family life and acceptable kid behavior in a way that should make us all cringe, but I have to wonder who questions them. So I consider this stupid Dunkin’ Donuts commercial in the same vein: suggesting that doughnuts are a way to "lure" your children from tv is just flat-out ridiculous. (So is the notion that fried chicken takeout from KFC is a wholesome family meal or a microwave lasagna is on par with from-scratch food.) I can only hope that other viewers are also thinking people who look beyond these commericals to define "normal, happy family."

Posted by: anonymous45 | April 6, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I haven't been around many dogs, but I've been around enough to know that you're going to get the dog's attention with the donuts, much quicker than you will the kids'! I loved going to get donuts on Sunday morning with my dad. I had cheerios or oatmeal the other 6 days, but getting up before my brothers was rewarded with going with dad and getting to pick out the donuts. And yes, it was family time!

Posted by: capecodner424 | April 6, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Anon45 - those KFC "family dinner" commercials also make me cringe - "here kids, enjoy your helping of childhood obesity! and honey, here's your high cholestral and early death from a heart attack!" Guess the donut commercial fits right in...

Posted by: Catwhowalked | April 6, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I assume that the commercial is trying to say that doughnuts are more attractive than TV. But I agree with a previous poster that most kids would just grab their doughnuts and go back to the TV. The dog would be the one staying in the kitchen.

Posted by: magicdomino | April 6, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

My first thoughts, upon seeing that commercial, were similar to your sentiments, Ms. Huget.

My next thought was how Kellogg brand cereals are equally as bad for children -- the sugar especially -- and how hypocritical it was of them and the Olympic Committee to come down so hard on Michael Phelps for his recent transgression. Kellogg brand cereals do more to harm the health of children and teens in this country than any amount of marijuana smoking by a young adult could ever accomplish -- just examine the statistics related to childhood obesity and Type II diabetes among youth and adults alike -- and all the secondary health problems that arise from diabetes -- kidney failure, blindness, fatty liver disease, circulation problems, heart disease, etc.

Kellogg, Dunkin Donuts, Coca Cola, Pepsi, on and on -- as a society we are poisoning our children and ourselves, slowly, over time.

Posted by: jjjjjjj | April 6, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Are people still watching commercials?? I thought most people (with enough cash) had moved on to dvr's by now. I haven't seen a commercial in years. My 4-year old has never seen one.

Posted by: floof | April 6, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I just think it's a weird commercial. What happened to the awesome They Might Be Giant commercials? (i.e. - "Doing things is what I like to do.")

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 6, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I find this really sad that now-a-days (if you think about it in the American culture) that families only bond over sitting in front of the tv or over (unhealthy food like doughuts) in order to spend time with each other.

Posted by: RandomLifeGirl | April 6, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Goodness, lighten up.

I believe the company is thinking that they want to sell more doughnuts during this recession, and hope not to have to close any stores so people lose their jobs. I buy Dunkin Donuts every so often, as a treat for the grandchildren or for coworkers, and I don't make them part of my daily diet. If other people do, so be it. I would assume that Dunkin Donuts expects we can figure that out without your help. I'm just surprised the dog didn't come too. Maybe after everyone gathered around the kitchen table for a doughnut, they all went out for a walk, and took the dog, too. They just didn't show us that part.

Posted by: momj47 | April 6, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Right on!, Dunkin Donuts. But, hey, weren't there lots of reports several years ago how Dunkin D. was going to move into the D.C. area full force and open a couple hundred franchises around here? What happened and where are they? All I'm asking for are some decent doughnuts at a decent price, and maybe a little coffee too.

Posted by: shoveit | April 6, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes. Jennifer, you're taking the ad way too seriously, as are most of the commenters. The ad isn't about health, it's about "family time." The kids are zombies in front of the TV, but dad pulls them away from it with doughnuts. He and the kids might have an actual conversation around the table, even if the conversation amounts to:

Dad: What flavor do you want?

Kid 1: Chocolate with sprinkles!

Kid 2: Glazed!

Dad: Well, have at it!

Kids: Thanks, Dad!

Does the commercial mean that doughnuts are healthy? No, but as one sensible commenter already pointed out, we've seen countless ads where the family gathers for pizza dinner, nachos, snacks. Why are doughnuts off-limits? Give me a break.

I do take my kids for doughnuts sometimes, and I cherish the memories of their excited little faces when I announce where we're going.

So far, they haven't exactly ballooned in weight, but I know, I know: That's surely coming!!! Shame on me!

Posted by: Discman | April 6, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Nutrition is the science that studies food and placed into categories according to their functions and food qualities. This science and recommends a varied diet rich in nutrients, not extremist or sector. The fault will cause an increase in reserves in the body that become unused fat. Also when consuming certain foods and not others, generate errors that cause disease.

Herbal remedies are a healthy food supplement for improving the food digestion and vitamin deficiencies. Its effectiveness for gastrointestinal disorders is established, since ancient times, natural medicine has just formalized its marketing.

Posted by: HerbalRemedies | April 6, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

You are, in my opinion, taking this commerical too seriously. Some people in this country are "health" fanatics and try to discourage people from ever eating many of their favorite foods. A donut or doughbut now and then is not has bad, on average, as eating a cheeseburger, smoking cigarettes, women drinking wine on a daily basis, watching television or being on the computer for hours nearly every day instead of getting some physical activity.

The French and some other Europeans seem to eat quite a lot of cheese, pastry, chocolate, etc., yet do not become as obese or have as many health problems as Americans. They seem, in general, to eat in smaller portions, are more physically active, less car dependent, have longer vacations, enjoy a far more expansive social safety net, so various stresses, some of the underlying causes of unhealthy eating choices in this country, are less evident.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 6, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

"A donut or doughbut now and then..."
Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 6, 2009 8:50 PM



Posted by: VaLGaL | April 7, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I interpreted this someone differently from the rest of the commenters 00 I saw the TV thing as a reference to X-Files or Poltergeist -- so, not donuts will save you from TV, but donuts are powerful enough to overcome alien or supernatural forces -- which is pretty funny.

Posted by: grm1 | April 7, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

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