Stop the Tyranny of the Kids' Menu!


Photo credit: ballyscanlon/Getty

“I’ll have the fried chicken fingers with a side of carrot sticks, please.”

Your waiter eyes you suspiciously.

"Is this… for a child under the age of 12?” he sharply inquires, already knowing the answer.


If this is a familiar tale, you’ll agree with the following manifesto:

FOR TOO LONG have lovers of chicken fingers and grilled cheese, hot dogs and tiny, adorable portions been told that we are too old for the children’s menu. Don’t tell us that eating so-called kids’ fare is somehow lowering our culinary standards. What, are restaurants trying to save us from ourselves?

Well, we don’t want to be saved.

“I am one of those people,” said Yahoo executive editor Susan Kittenplan. “Just ordered chicken fingers from the kids’ room service menu last night, and didn’t care that the waiter looked around the room at the Doubletree for my non-existent child.”

You do you, Susan! Reasons for preferring the kids’ menu go beyond what one is craving. Paula Froelich, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel, “always orders off the kids’ menu because the portions are proportionate.” Sometimes she’s just a little bit peckish, and a tyke-sized serving size hits the spot. Plus, “I’m from Ohio and Kentucky, where an adult portion can feed a small family in the rest of the world,” Froelich added.

Yahoo food editor Julia Bainbridge defaults to the children’s menu when she’s stuck at an eatery that isn’t up to snuff. “Kids’ food is usually simply prepared and straightforward,” she explained. “Some mac and cheese and steamed broccoli? Great! I can put those together and have a comforting little meal.”

For others, these menus have real fiscal appeal. “The price point is right for a smaller appetite, and they’re less likely to screw up a hot dog,” said food features editor Alex Van Buren.

What would be the harm in opening up kids’ menus to people of all ages? Bring on the chicken tenders!