Mythic Food Education

19 Oct

I work at the California Science Center street doing graphic design and have recently been working on a traveling education show called “SuperKids Academy”. The goal of the show is to educate kindergarten through 5th grade students on healthy lifestyles. My task has been to update the SuperKids Academy to adhere to Californian health education policies. All sorts of puzzling changes had to be made in the show-related literature such as references to “junk food” becoming “salty, sugary, fatty food”. This odd alternative to such a colloquial term for unhealthy food raised my eye brows. Even just from a graphic design standpoint, “salty, sugary, fatty food” is an awkward phrase to work with. In some ways the term is more specific and could be construed as a more accurate teaching tool then the ambiguous “junk food”. However, the weight that the latter phrase holds in the way it conjures images of chips, candy, etc is extremely poignant.

The show features a mythos of two superhero kids as they battle various “BLAHs” or monster which try to encourage unhealthy behavior. The encounter with the “Salty, Sugary, Fatty Food BLAH” is especially dramatic in the battle that ensues. However, I believe that this new version of the myth drastically changes the feel of the story. Yes, one could argue that the differences arise from simple changes, but wording is everything in any story. Each Momotaro version had it’s own peculiarities that made them unique while remaining distinctly Momotaro. The new SuperKids Academy is still super, but decidedly different from the original.

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