Author Topic: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus  (Read 1572 times)

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Thipu1

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S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« on: January 12, 2013, 06:09:32 PM »
I'm sure I'm not the only one here who has thought about this. 

When did the idea that children should have their own food become popular?

When I was young in the 1950s, restaurants had children's menus.  Although a hot dog, a hamburger and a pasta with marinara sauce might be on the menu, most meals were a smaller versions of those offered for adults. 

Often, the children's menu had a nursery rhyme theme.

  'Little Bo-Peep' would include a lamb chop with potato and vegetable. 
'Chicken Little' would be a portion of chicken with potato and vegetable.
'Little Boy Blue' would be roast beef with gravy and potato.  In this case, the vegetable would be
corn.

When did it become received wisdom that children would only eat hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets or pizza?

It was assumed that children would eat




Sharnita

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2013, 06:29:27 PM »
I think that is still the case with mahy kids menus.  Now in some cases where the food might be spicy/ethnic/whatever I think "mainstream American" is offered as an alternative.  I also think a lot of restaurants offer things like nuggets, hotdogs, grilled cheese because they are frankly cheaper than even smaller portions of the adult lamb chop, for example.

Iris

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 06:41:01 PM »
It's hard to say, because really it's an OLD concept. A century ago few people could afford to go to restaurants, and those that could left children at home with 'nurse' until they were of an age to behave themselves properly. A generation or so ago I certainly wasn't taken to anything other than "family" restaurants until I was about 12. So I suspect that what's new for many restaurants is the presence of children in them at all, rather than the presence of children who wouldn't eat what their parents are eating.

So for me, it's a chicken and egg thing. It sounds as though your experiences are different so it is possible you were just a particularly sophisticated child with a jet-setting lifestyle. :)
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Lorelei_Evil

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2013, 06:45:54 PM »
Agree with the cost cutting hypothesis.  The items probably have a pretty high profit margin.

One restaurant I go to has a children's menu, but it's smaller portions of their most popular dishes so it seems to make money and cut down on waste at the same time.  The burger is 1/6 of a pound instead of 1/4, for example.  It's family owned and not a chain, though.

I order off of it all the time.    :-[. The "regular" portions are too large for me. 

Another reason may be ease of prep, too.   >:D

Sharnita

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2013, 06:49:04 PM »
A lot of the kids menu items are less messy, too. Sandwiches, finger foods, etc.  Spaghetti aside, not a lot of sauces to slop or spill.

betty

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2013, 06:49:56 PM »
I have no idea who started the idea that kids will only eat chicken nuggets, etc, but it annoys the heck out of me. It's especially annoying that many kids' menus offer only (or mostly) dishes that are high in fat and calories and low in nutritional value and quality.

When my kid was younger, he wasn't a fan of most kids' menu items, so we would often split an entree. I was glad he would eat something more interesting (and often healthier) but it did limit my choices a bit. Now he's 13 and could probably eat two entrees by himself LOL.

blue2000

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2013, 08:10:03 PM »
Although I am younger than you, I still recall when 'Kid's Menu' meant smaller and/or cheaper, rather than different. You still got pasta in Italian restaurants and beef choices in steak restaurants. People didn't want to waste a $20 steak on a small child. So in a sense, it was the parent making the decision that the child would not get an adult meal.

Now it seems to be the child's decision, which is bizarre. The meal might cost almost as much as an adult one and have enough grease and sugar to float a boat but the kid still gets to have it.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

Sneezy

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2013, 08:59:20 PM »
I used to work with someone who seriously though that kids needed pizza and chicken nuggets for health reasons. The reasoning was that if it's on the kids' menu at so many places, then there must be some important nutrient in there that the kids need. This person also said something about pizza and chicken nuggets being easier to digest for kids rather than adult food. I found it kind of baffling, since I grew up eating grown up food in smaller portions once I graduated from baby food.

Rohanna

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2013, 09:39:19 PM »
The idea of what children can eat varies SO widely by time, culture and family that it's hard to say "what kids used to eat". My family tended to just serve us less of what the adults got, but my husband's family believed kid's had "sensitive" tummies, and I don't think he ate anything that wasn't boiled or beige until he was 10. My father in law still has conniptions that I fed my son (mild) curry at 1. I took anthro as a major in Uni- and there are cultures that feed their children as my family did- but there are others with some fairl strict "restrictions" on what children should eat.

From wiki:

"Baby food varies from culture to culture. In many cultures, pastes of a grain and liquid are the first baby food. In the Western world until the mid-1900s, baby food was generally made at home. The industrial revolution saw the beginning of the baby food market which promoted commercial baby foods as convenience items. In the United States and Canada, babies are now often started with commercially produced iron-fortified infant cereals, and then move on to mashed fruits and vegetables. Commercial baby foods are widely available in dry, ready-to-feed and frozen forms, often in small batches (e.g. small jars) for convenience of preparation. Commercially prepared baby foods in the Netherlands were first prepared by Martinus van der Hagen through his NV Nutricia company in 1901. In United States they were first prepared commercially by Fremont Canning Company in 1928.[10] The Beech-Nut company entered the U.S. baby food market in 1931. The first precooked dried baby food was Pablum which was originally made for sick children in the 1930s. Other commercial baby food manufacturers include Gerber, H. J. Heinz Company, Nestle, Nutricia and Organix. Some commercial baby foods have been criticized for their contents and cost.  The demand from parents for organic food began to grow in the 1960s[citation needed]; since then, many larger commercial manufacturers have introduced organic lines of infant food.

In China and other east Asian countries, homemade baby food remains common, and babies are started on rice porridge called xifan, then move on to mashed fruits, soft vegetables, tofu and fish.  In Sweden, it is common to start with mashed fruit, such as bananas, as well as oatmeal and mashed vegetables. In western Africa, maize porridge is often the first solid food given to young children.

In numerous cultures around the world, the food is sometimes pre-chewed by the caretaker of the baby in order to pulverise the food and start the digestion process"

In some of these cultures, "babies" may be as old as 3-4, as- apart from anything else, in subsistence cultures the "best" food is often fed to the chiefs and warriors for "strength"- children would not be offered large amounts of prized foods such as meat, and eat larger amounts of simple boiled grains.

The idea that bland foods are a western-american invention for children only is simply not true- as it varies widely world-wide based on what the culture has available and what they think is appropriate for children. Some places are more restrictive, others make almost no differentiation of menu outside of infancy.

Children's menu's in restaurants are not new either:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sa_steve/2791264936/

http://www.gjenvick.com/VintageMenus/ChildrenslMenus/1924-10-01-ChildrensPartyMenu-Aquitania.html#axzz2HoqqGjOC

http://www.myvintagegeneration.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/IMG_0012.jpg

With items that wouldn't be foreign on a standard chain restaurant children's menu today. Yes, there are some restaurant vintage menus with more "adult" children's meals- but to be fair, Boston Pizza has salmon on their children's menu today, and Montana's has a child's size order of rib tips.It certainly is true that many children's menus heavily feature mac-and-cheese type options- but then again, chain restaurants in general trend towards bland meals for adults as well. Fancier restaurants may see fewer children, so they find it easier to stock a few "basic" items that most kids will eat- figuring those with more adventurous palates will probably end up ordering regular food. Many non-chain restaurants will make a "half order" for a child if asked.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 09:42:34 PM by Rohanna »
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Emmy

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2013, 09:41:21 PM »
My guess is that 'kids food' has a high profit margin, is relatively cheap for the parents, and is something that most kids will eat.  In the picky eater's thread, somebody mentioned a restaurant that had a kids' menu with grilled cheese, but the bread is a delicious multi-grain and the cheese is a sharp cheddar.  The restaurant got complaints because it wasn't the grilled cheese that many kids were used to eating.  I imagine if a lot of people sent food back like that delicious sounding grilled cheese because their kids wanted Wonderbread with Kraft singles, it would be unprofitable for restaurants to make quality food for their kids menus.  Restaurants also make more money when a child with a more adventurous palate will order off the adult menu.

DD is still a little young for kids' meals, but I wonder if they even come with a vegetable.  The 'kids hate vegetables' stereotype may be true in some cases, but I wouldn't be pleased if the only options on the kids' menu were beige.  DD is only 17 months now, and I give her some bites of my food on the rare occasion when we go out.  I'll have to start paying attention to the kids menus.

Rohanna

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2013, 09:46:04 PM »
Emmy- one of the tricks I've learned at chain restaurants is to look at the "dessert" section- they will often substitute the fries off the kids menu for a fruit cup (frequently available) or orange slices out of the dessert section. It's not perfect, but it's better. If there are sweet potato fries or different vegetables for adults- they'll frequently sub that instead- I've found that 99 percent of the time as long as you aren't asking for steak instead of chicken fingers, they don't care if they put peas or fries on the kids plate.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton.

Slartibartfast

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2013, 09:50:25 PM »
We just paid $6 for a hot dog Babybartfast refused to eat tonight  >:(  She would definitely have preferred an adult option, but the cheapest adult entree was $18 (they all came with salad, sides, etc.) and even just getting two side dishes at this particular restaurant would have been more expensive than the kids meal.  Granted, it was $6 for hot dog + milk + applesauce + German potato salad (the only ethnic food available on the kids menu at this German restaurant), but I would have much rather she had an option of sausage or wienerschnitzel or something rather than just chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dog, or mac & cheese.  Unfortunately the portions are just about right for an adult, otherwise I would have shared mine with her.

mumma to KMC

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2013, 10:34:06 PM »
We have four kids and seldom order from the kid's menu, we order an adult meal for them to split (well, two now, because they've gotten older). Not only is it more often healthier, it is more often cheaper (or better to take home and eat the next day, reheated chicken nuggets are not good!)

Jelaza

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2013, 02:02:31 AM »
DD is still a little young for kids' meals, but I wonder if they even come with a vegetable.  The 'kids hate vegetables' stereotype may be true in some cases, but I wouldn't be pleased if the only options on the kids' menu were beige.  DD is only 17 months now, and I give her some bites of my food on the rare occasion when we go out.  I'll have to start paying attention to the kids menus.

As is often true, it depends on the restaurant.  One that I went to last year with my sister and her kids had a "choice of side" for all their kids' meals, which included salad, fruit cup and vegetable of the day in the sides alongside the normal fries and stuff.

Slartibartfast

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Re: S/O of Picky Eaters---Kid's Menus
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2013, 03:39:14 AM »
DD is still a little young for kids' meals, but I wonder if they even come with a vegetable.  The 'kids hate vegetables' stereotype may be true in some cases, but I wouldn't be pleased if the only options on the kids' menu were beige.  DD is only 17 months now, and I give her some bites of my food on the rare occasion when we go out.  I'll have to start paying attention to the kids menus.

As is often true, it depends on the restaurant.  One that I went to last year with my sister and her kids had a "choice of side" for all their kids' meals, which included salad, fruit cup and vegetable of the day in the sides alongside the normal fries and stuff.

In my experience, most restaurants will let you substitute in an adult side for the fries or whatever comes with the kids meal, although some charge you a small amount extra to do it.  (My best experience with that was at a *very* fancy restaurant which we ended up taking Babybartfast to when she was around 2 or so - they didn't even have a children's menu.  I asked if she could have a little plate of vegetables, since that was about the quantity of food she'd eat at the time, and the head chef actually came out to say hi and to find out what she might like!  I think she ended up with a plate of carrots and parmesan cheese, perfectly done, and the restaurant didn't even charge us for them.)