Rethinking the Phrase “kid Friendly”

Berries as cute as a cupcake www.momskitchenhandbook.comI’ve been percolating the phrase, “kid friendly” of late. As in, “kid-friendly” menus, “kid-friendly” snacks, and “kid-friendly” drinks. It’s used widely in food marketing, applied to the sorts of foods that kids tend to gravitate towards. The translation, however, often lands within a small category that might otherwise be dubbed junk food.  Let me share a few examples:

 

ChickfilA-Nuggets

Chicken nuggets with upwards of 30 ingredients including MSG

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Popsicles made with red dye number 40, artificial flavors, and high fructose corn syrup

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Sour Patch Kids Slurpee with nearly 1/4 cup of sugar in a small serving.

Occasional junk food I can accept (I have a 15 year old with a soft spot for gummy worms and a husband who stocks Doritos for emergency sports viewing). But let’s not call these foods kid friendly, because there is nothing friendly about how they treat our children’s bodies.

Truth? I think all kinds of foods can appeal to little ones. With time and patience, children can come to like and even love strong flavors, a variety of vegetables, exotic ingredients, and so forth. And what might go over with ease in your house may get a red light in mine. Consider my nephew who, for ages, turned his nose up at chicken drumsticks and chocolate ice cream but ate stinky cheese with abandon.

Perhaps we can’t all agree on what constitutes “kid-friendly” but I’d like for us to at least agree that it’s not:

  • Food that glows in the dark
  • Has a label that reads like a chemistry experiment
  • Or is a major contributor to childhood obesity.

It should be simply this: a food kids like AND is genuinely friendly to their growing bodies.

What say you?

 

Comments

08.18.2015 at5:08 AM #

Allie

I think you make a very good point. I like to think of kid friendly as something my child will eat, and enjoy, while putting a smile on my face because it’s healthy and good for her to eat.

08.18.2015 at5:08 AM #

Katie Morford

That sounds like a great definition, Allie!

08.18.2015 at7:29 AM #

Meal Makeover Mom Janice

Agreed! We use the term kid-friendly for foods that both appeal to kids and to their dietitian moms. 🙂

08.18.2015 at7:29 AM #

Katie Morford

Indeed! ??

08.18.2015 at10:49 AM #

Jenna Helwig

This phrase is a regular struggle for me. For a while I vowed not to use it at all when creating and promoting recipes for Parents.com and in my own work, relying on “family-friendly” instead. Because, really, what does kid-friendly mean? Some kids like beef; some don’t. Ditto hummus, mac ‘n’ cheese, fruit, salads, or pasta. To me, food is food and really anything can be kid-friendly! Mussels, kale chips, sesame-soy tofu — why not?

BUT, I found on Parents that our “kid-friendly” slideshows got many, many more clicks, even if the actual content was just…good food. So I now think of “kid-friendly” as a gateway term. It draws people in, and hopefully helps reorient them as to what kid-friendly food can be — just delicious food. (And maybe not too spicy :).

08.18.2015 at10:49 AM #

Katie Morford

Appreciate your perspective Jenna. Interesting that “family friendly” is a real hook for folks at Parents.com, but in the end, it is just about good food. And I agree about spicy…the one territory where I tread with care when it comes to kids.

08.19.2015 at10:50 AM #

Melanie

This is great insight! Many of those foods marketed as “kid friendly” aren’t adult friendly either. I love your list of things that make something not kid friendly. It’s definitely something to think about, especially as school is getting started again and people are packing lunches. 🙂

08.19.2015 at10:50 AM #

Katie Morford

Good point that unhealthy foods are neither kid nor adult friendly. Thanks for the comment.

08.26.2015 at1:37 PM #

Christina

I agree with you completely! I hate that the “children’s menu” (even at good restaurants) only has chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. But the kids menu items are cheap – and the adult menu items are much more expensive. I wish they could make smaller portions for kids from the adult menu. As it is now, I usually order 2 entrees and my kids and I share both.

08.26.2015 at1:37 PM #

Katie Morford

I agree, Christina. Sometimes a restaurant will let you do a half order, but that seems to be the exception. Sharing is a good solution.

09.10.2015 at7:50 AM #

sarah

A big, huge AMEN! Your three simple rules are so smart and easy to understand. How can we spread the word??

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