Some food for thought the next time you pull into a neighborhood McDonald’s: 

Assume that I put two pieces of "chicken" in front of you: a piece wrapped up like a McDonald’s McNugget and another piece wrapped in a generic wrapper, and I ask you which tastes better. If you’re a child aged 3-5, you live in a home with 2.4 TVs (average household), have a TV set in your room and 30 percent eat at McDonald’s more than once a week, the answer is overwhelmingly that the "chicken" wrapped in a McDonald’s wrapper is better.

Even though both pieces of "chicken" are the same!

That’s the conclusion of a Stanford University School of Medicine study released last month and discussed in a recent issue of Ad Age magazine. The more exposures a kid has to McDonald’s, the more likely he/she is to believe that McDonald’s food is simply better than unbranded food (the lone, surprising exception: a McDonald’s burger). "We found that kids with more TVs in their homes and those who eat at McDonald’s more frequently were even more likely to prefer the food in the McDonald’s wrapper," the guy doing the study told AdAge. "This is a company that knows what they’re doing. Nobody else spends as much to advertise their fast-food products to children."

I guess none of this should really be a surprise; obviously, advertising is designed to elicit a response, and I’m sure it works best on young minds uncluttered with the distractions the rest of us have accumulated over the years. Also, the test wasn’t done on adults, but it’s certainly not out of the question that the results could have been similar.

And I personally don’t see this as any indictment of McDonald’s: They’re in business to sell McNuggets, etc., and that’s what advertising is all about. It’s just an interesting glance into life in the multimedia age.