Ronda Kaysen: During your next trip to the grocery store with the kids, don't be surprised if you get an unexpected request for onions. Yes, onions. Kids have been going nuts for the aromatic bulb ever since Vidalia onions teamed up with Shrek to market the latest "Jolly Green Ogre" flick.
In a stroke of marketing genius, the Vidalia Onion Committee, an association that represents 100 growers of the sweet onions that grow in Georgia, teamed up with DreamWorks and started adorning their bags of onions with Shrek's happy mug.
The result? A huge spike in onion sales -- and a new source of spontaneous temper tantrums everywhere.
A Wall Street Journal reporter recently spotted 3-year-old Aiden Harvill in a Georgia supermarket, having a complete meltdown over a Shrek-designed bag of onions. "Mama, there's Shrek!" Aiden shouted. Mom relented and threw the bag in the cart.
"He never, ever eats vegetables, but when we got home, he wanted me to cook them," Elizabeth Harvill told the Journal. Aiden devoured the casserole she made with them. "I was astonished," she said. "It was like a toy in a cereal box."
Another mom, Tamara Gibson, has been making repeated trips to the grocery store to stock up on the newly beloved vegetable for her three kids. Her 4-year-old is especially smitten. "I was at the store last night and thought, 'Gosh, I'm going through onions like crazy these days,'" she told the Journal. "It's like buying milk!"
The uptick isn't merely anecdotal. So far this season, farmers have shipped eight million more pounds of Vidalias than they did by this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"We've sold more onions up to this point in the season than we ever have in the past," Brian Stanley, of Stanley Farms (a large Vidalia grower), told the Journal.
So what's the connection between onions and the green ogre? It all goes back to the first "Shrek" movie, wherein the ogre compares himself to the sweet, flavorful bulb. "There's a lot more to ogres than people think," he tells Donkey. "Ogres are like onions." Per Shrek, it's not because they're both stinky, or make you cry, or turn brown in the sun. Nope, it's because both onions and ogres "have layers." Aha!
And so, with that comparison, the Vidalia committee and DreamWorks set out to launch the "Shrek Forever After, Vidalias Forever Sweet" campaign.
All this onion fever is a welcome respite from the traditional cartoon-adorned boxes of sugar-laden, nutritionally bankrupt junk that's usually marketed to kids.
Moms, have you noticed any "Shrek" onion bags in your local grocery store -- and are your kids begging for them?