Probiotics Trying to Appeal to Kids with "Cool" Bacteria

Was at the Davis Coop on the way home today and saw something new to me. Looks like companies are trying to make bacteria seem “cool” to kids so that kids will start asking for their probiotics much like they might ask for Captain Crunch. See below:

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

Not sure I like the trend but I do like the attempt to spread the word about how bacteria are not all bad.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

3 thoughts on “Probiotics Trying to Appeal to Kids with "Cool" Bacteria”

  1. I keep seeing “prebiotics” everywhere, which I find is a very awkward term. Funny to see all of these ideas hitting the market even though science doesn’t really understand the relationship or effect of bacteria on humans, hence the human microbiome project.

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  2. I just hope that this first wave of “probiotics” without much scientific basis doesn’t jade consumers against future products that will actually be based on some knowledge of how the human microbiome works.

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  3. Great slideshow of advertising meets microbiology! Some of the probiotic ads are funny, indeed!

    The “Attune” products have the funniest advertisements, I think. Here is a sample:

    http://wwff.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/attune_ad.jpg

    I think that Morgan and Jonathan are spot on about “overselling” probiotics (and the Attune people do that, just as yoghurt folk have been doing for decades). But it is unlikely to hurt a healthy person, and spreads the word that “bacteria” is not synonymous with “pathogen.”

    I try hard to teach “prokaryotic pride” to my students (though I had better find another motto, so that Norm Pace and Carl Woese don’t chastise me.

    The “Giant Microbes” stuffed toys are an place to start with kids. For adults, I get a kick out of the “Infectious Awareables” people who sell scarves and ties and such. They have a booth at ASM, and it is always fun to watch a person walk up and ask for a “syphilis scarf” or “anthrax tie.”

    Again, a fun post.

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