The next morning, my son requested Fruity Cheerios and I pulled out the bag of generic cereal. He got fairly upset, informing me that he wanted the “red box,” even after I poured him the bowl of cereal.
The entire post is interesting, as are his concluding thoughts, worth a read.
Here is my comment that I left:
I think you misinterpret his desires with "some of my son’s enjoyment of Fruity Cheerios comes from the branding".I love all the kids in my family, and I've seen similar experiences to this quite often. Routine matters. You have to read a bedtime story the way Mom or Dad does (it's a big hurdle to overcome to just be allowed to replace Mom/Dad with storytelling), you have to help dress the kid the way it is done every morning, etc. Routines help kids cultivate comfort and feel at ease (it's why having a routine the first time you drop your kid off at school is important, as is explaining to them ahead of time what will happen).
He couldn't care less if it is red or blue or brown. What he cares about is that the "real" cheerios have always come from box X, and how he's presented with box (or bag) Y. He wants X, whatever it is. The branding has become intrinsically linked to his perception of the product, but his enjoyment isn't tied to the branding, merely his association of the "true" product with how it is presented to him.
Had you previously given him real cheerios with box colors a, b and c then you could have gotten away with d and e and f.
It's routine. Same reason your child prefers certain routines and rituals during his day. Routine breeds comfort, and the routine of the red box conveys to him he's getting his real cheerios.
You are obviously taking a number of great steps to make him less biased by branding, which is great. Make sure that you get the grandparents in on the act (heck, let them know that they can give him the generic cereal so they can save money, cereal is crazy expensive).
It's hard to severe experiences from "branding". You son might have a favorite park, which has the brand of a certain route to get there, certain signage once you arrive, certain playground pieces once there, etc.
Branding isn't always branding, it is associations of the senses to experiences.