It’s a Treat! It’s a Snack! It Shouldn’t Be This Confusing!

I love Target. If you know me, you know that already. If you know me really well, such as if you’re married to me, are my child, or are my friend on Facebook, you also know how floaty I’ve been feeling since a new, shiny-fresh Target has opened less than a mile from my home. Target being Target, they’ve, er, targeted their ads and coupons right at me, and a flyer with some coupons touting their fresh-food area arrived at our house the other day. (I already got my free dozen eggs, thanks).

But then this portion of the several-page, glossy ad piece upset me:

target snacks

Snacks? I don’t see a single snack here, unless maybe you extract some nuts and raisins from that trail mix. These? These are treats.

Because those aren’t snacks.

Those are treats.

Oh, I know, I know — I’m being fussy. But am I? I have no problem with treats! I love treats! I eat treats! I’ve been known to eat nearly all the treats shown here, though I have to say, weirdly, that Oreos don’t really move me, go figure (I’m not a packaged-cookie kind of gal, though show me a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and you better be prepared to get out of my way). But I do believe that the crossing of lines between snacks and treats has messed some of us up.

Because snacks are a good thing; we need them — our kids need them even more. So if we start mixing up treats and snacks, it starts to seem like no big deal if instead of an apple and some cheese for snack, you give the kid Oreos and a YooHoo. One of those is made of food. The other is… not.

My fourth-grader landed a teacher this year who is into fitness and nutrition. During curriculum night, he pleaded with parents to send in a healthy snack — or at the very least not junk. He acknowledged how much they need a boost mid-morning (in this school, the fourth graders pulled the latest lunch period, about 1pm. My kid eats breakfast at 7, so yeah, around 11 he’s going to need something), but told us that if that “boost” consisted of sugar and food dye, he’d have raving lunatics on his hands an hour later, and heads on desks an hour after that.

And yet, there are parents (I have talked to them) who feel resentful if they can’t send in Oreos, as though some sort of deprivation were at hand.

And it strikes me that one reason for this may be the confusion (Target, I am talking to you!) between “snack” and “treat.” We hear “you can’t have cookies or chips or candy for snack” and that feels like punishment rather than a sensible idea.

What do you think?

Oh, and, opinions, please: What might you do if you were the parent of one of my son’s classmates who was told (or so I hear through my son) that she couldn’t have the candy (not cookies, not chips, but candy) that she had brought in for snack?