Most parents have heard the chorus from the back seat: "Can we get a happy meal, pleeeease?" But chances are, it's not the nuggets they're after—it's the toy.
Fast-food restaurants know that kids have tremendous influence on the choices their parents make. Sugary food and beverage manufacturers know this too. Little kids are big business, so companies enlist the help of favorite cartoon characters, popular movies, and anything else they can think of to convince children to choose their products.
All that advertising doesn't come cheap. Food and beverage companies spent $1.79 billion in 2009 on marketing to young people ages 2 to 17.