Thursday, August 8, 2013

"THIS HODGEPODGE OF MEDICINE AND MORALITY":  Slate's Michele Humes tells the history and calls for the abolition of the children's menu:
Today, nutritionists are rightly appalled by the insipid, mostly fried fare designated for children. In response, a growing number of restaurants have tasked themselves with building a healthier children’s menu, but the approach taken by casual-dining chains like Red Lobster and Applebee’s is superficial: Instead of throwing out the chicken nuggets, they’re counting on sides of broccoli to magically counteract them. But even a more thorough revamp would be missing the point—namely, that children never needed a separate bill of fare to begin with. If there is any argument to be made for holding onto the kids' menu, it is that contemporary portion sizes are more than a child can handle. (They’re more than most adults can handle, for that matter.) Moving forward, the industry might do well to look backward, to the children’s options offered in Parisian restaurants at the turn of the 20th century. This 1900 menu, from the Restaurant Gardes, has the right idea: a child’s cut-price prix fixe (couvert d’enfant) that doesn’t offer different food—just less of it.


  1. Adam B.4:17 PM

    Two footnotes:
    1. I recognize that this is the second post in a week containing the French word "enfant". I believe it's coincidence.
    2. Neither any Mumford nor Sons thereof were harmed during the construction of this item.

  2. Joseph Finn4:46 PM

    I could not send this any faster to my wife, who works in a family restaurant.

  3. Tosy and Cosh4:48 PM

    When we vacation in New Hampshire, we are always SO appreciative of the fact that the Common Man restaurant (a small NE chain, I guess) offers any menu item on the menu at half price and portion for kids. My twins have no stomach for mac and cheese or chicken fingers anymore. Also give Outback credit for a kids menu that includes a small steak and a small portion of ribs.

  4. LittleMascara7:35 PM

    My daughter is an adventurous eater at 2, and I find myself preferring ordering her an appetizer than something from the kids menu. Not that she's above chicken fingers, but I know she'd prefer hummus and carrots or a stuffed pepper. That note about the portion size is spot-on, and that's often what motivates us to go with a children's menu over anything.

  5. Sheila8:45 AM

    I have one adventurous eater and one picky eater. I don't think I did anything differently with them, so it's probably more just an individual thing (or related to the fact that they have one picky-eating parent and one omnivore). While I appreciate the idea that kids shouldn't be stuck with eating just fried food, the truth is that if they get rid of traditional kids' menus, then we pretty much have to stop going out to eat with my kids.

  6. Tina M10:05 AM

    I feel like eating out is a treat for me as well as the kids. I can order what I want, they can order what they want. And since they don't get that kind of food much at home, they LOVE the kids menus and a chance to pick out what they want.