I went to the pub for a meal last week and they were offering a free children’s meal with every adult’s meal. So what was in a children’s meal? Well, there was a choice of mains, like chicken nuggets, plus a soft drink, plus a dessert, like a chocolate frog in jelly.
(Yeah, a chocolate frog in jelly. It was like The Pub That Time Forgot.)
I ordered my five-year-old son a ham-and-pineapple pizza. It turned up and it was huge: six slices. The waiter put it down in front of him and said, “Eat all that and you can have dessert.”
I think what he meant to say was, “Eat all that and you can have a heart attack in your thirties.”
I got my son a glass of water instead of the free soft drink, and didn’t mention to him about the chocolate frog in jelly. (I am officially a Mean Mum.)
Okay, so this is nothing new. Children’s meals have been crap for years. But why isn’t anything changing? When everyone is aware of how important it is to get kids eating healthily, why are children’s meals still so crap?
Sure, you could say parents want to buy meals they know their kids will eat. But aren’t there just as many parents who want to buy meals for their kids that have some kind of nutritional value?
One city council in America has had enough. They’ve decided that if restaurants aren’t going to change their ways, they’re going to force them, legally. In Davis, California, as of last month, a “kids’ meal” isn’t allowed to include a soft drink or juice. It has to be water or milk. If parents want to give their child a soft drink or juice, they have to specifically request it.
Kari Fry, a mum living in Davis, has welcomed the new law.
“I certainly give my kids soda every once in a while on special occasion and prefer that to be at my choice and not a confrontation at the restaurant, where the parent is by default the bad guy, taking the sugary treat away,” she says.