By Mike Pomranz
Updated November 03, 2014
Credit: © T.M.O.Pictures / Alamy

Children can be notoriously picky eaters, so much so that kids’ menus featuring the same mac and cheese/chicken finger combo are ubiquitous in American restaurants. But a an advocacy group believes young diners would be willing to eat better if only given the opportunity.

Kids Food Reboot is a campaign aiming to “dispel the myth of ‘kids food.’” It is dedicated to changing the way families look at food both at home and when eating out, specifically taking aim at the idea of a “kids’ menu” with the latter. The campaign’s founder, Lynn Fredericks, told the Washington Post, “The idea that there is different food for children drives me nuts.”

Fredericks believes it’s key to provide broader choices and present them in a way that will appeal to a younger audience. This includes adapting regular “adult” menu options to “be more suitable in portion size, spice level and nutritional content for kids,” and then adding a “touch of whimsy,” like making a sesame seed smiley face on a hard-cooked egg. One thing that is definitely true of American children is that they love their whimsy.

The Post took a group of families to Washington, DC’s Equinox—one of several restaurants working with Kids Food Reboot—to see Fredericks’s efforts on display. The results were not particularly surprising. Though kids liked parts of their meals, problems persisted: a 7-year-old didn’t want her brussels spouts and steak to touch each other. An 8-year-old didn’t even try her bean ragout and chanterelle mushrooms. A 10-year-old was skeptical of her artichokes. And yet “when a side of truffled macaroni and cheese arrived, the kids made a beeline for it.”

There were, however, small victories. One girl declared her artichokes to be “OK.”