Parents are always looking for ways to squeeze a little more time out of their days while feeding their kids something quick, easy, and hopefully palatable. Kids Cuisine products have been around since forever as an attempt to fill the cheap, easy, and kid friendly television dinner bracket. This market segment seems to have always been dominated by two schools of thought – mom targeted branding which focuses on “healthy eating” (though based on the nutrient content of some of those products you’re basically overpaying for a dry tasting Lean Pocket) or kids targeted marketing which use cartoons to sell their products because cartoons sell products to children. Even the majority of food products with cartoons on them bear plenty of information on the box about how nutritious and fortified they are, but that’s just to aid them into the shopping basket once the kid has been hooked. It just helps justify buying a sugary cereal, TV dinner, or fortified sweetened beverage.
Kids Cuisine is no different from any other kid oriented marketing campaign. They certainly play up their nutritional facts more than most General Mills or Kelloggs sugar-cereals but that doesn’t make it supremely healthy. Especially when the package comes with it’s own thing of sprinkles and pudding. One of the nicer things about most TV dinners, even a cartoon advertised kids oriented TV dinner, is the sense of portion size. TV dinners really do reign in what a proper portion size is SUPPOSED to look like, instead of letting me (a notoriously poor eater) to see what I’m supposed to be eating to reach my targeted Calories per Meal. Now that doesn’t really fix the fact that this is a microwaved dinner and it’s not the most appealing thing for a parent to feed a kid.
Well I’m here to tell you that, I, as a non-kid or parent, would willingly eat the quesadilla or feed it to someone else’s kid. (Though not on a regular basis, and I do hate my own gastro-intestinal system and all children.) Through some microwave magic, it comes out nice and gooey without being soggy. The tortilla isn’t terrible thought it does look like it has metastasized form of melanoma all over it. The bubbles just don’t look natural, but that’s fine since the whole thing tastes like a generic Taco Bell quesadilla. Even the texture is pretty gosh-darned close.
The rest of the meal varies from barely passable to downright horrible. I couldn’t figure out why Kid Cuisine insisted on putting pudding in the tray to be microwaved with the meal. It’s not a particularly good pudding (though if you eat them frozen they taste remarkably like a Fudgesicle) to begin with. That’s just a given. Pudding contains dairy and dairy just isn’t meant to be frozen unless it’s loaded with tons of fat and slow churned. It’s definitely not intended to be frozen, reheated and covered with “fiesta sprinkles.” (I need to cover the fiesta sprinkles in just a second). It’s just not natural and it just comes off tasting like wierd hot chocolate goo. Mixing the pudding before serving helps by helping even out any hot spots but it’s still not great pudding. It is, however, passible if you’re hungry.
The Fiesta Sprinkles (what the hell are fiesta sprinkles anyways?) are a whole different story. While the pudding is less than good but not quite bad, the fiesta sprinkles are basically crap and shouldn’t come anywhere near your TV dinner. Don’t be like me and stick it on your pudding so it can mix and melt and contaminate everything with their oversweet yet chalky flavor. It’s like someone took a black board eraser, compressed the dust with some sugar, added food color, and called it a new and exciting garnish. It’s almost the worst part of the meal, but not quite.
My biggest complaint about this particular version of the Kids Cuisine line is the fact that this dish will single handedly ruin all vegetables and encourage them to eat mediocre sprinkles. I don’t care if your kids liked corn before this, having a decent quesadilla, a mediocre pudding, and some crap sprinkles up against steamed feed corn is going to kill all vegetables for them. Flat out. I really don’t understand how they managed to ruin steamed veggies but they did. It’s does such a bad job at being tasty steamed corn, I would have accused them of mixing up the corn shaped packing peanuts with their actual corn, except this stuff is far more rubbery and bitter than packing peanuts ever dreamed about being.The corn will seriously ruin vegetables for your kids and there’s just no good reason for it. I mean, bulk packed frozen veggies are pretty dang good, and I know Green Giant makes fantastic veggie steamer packs. If you want your kids to eat healthy you need to make sure that the healthiest portion of their dish is at least passable.
Now you might be saying “Geeze Ben, going a little overboard with the corn,” or wondering “How is it possible to screw up microwavable corn?” My reply would simply be that I don’t have a good solid answer and the ingredients list doesn’t reveal any secrets. I do, however, have a few hypotheses which goes along the lines of “it was the cheapest corn they could find in the warehouse” or someone forgot to label it as “not fit for human consumption.” If you’ve ever seen the independent film “King Corn” you would understand that the majority of America’s favorite grain is actually grown to produce other products, like corn syrup, and beef. The majority of that corn is actually bland, unpalatable and 100% unlike the sweet juicy stuff you get at your summer barbecue. Just do your yourself and kids a favor and throw the corn away. Don’t even let them eat it. Seriously. Cut that portion of the tray off and act like it was never there.
The main portion of the Kid Cuisine is still worth buying the whole meal over if you need to feed a kid that doesn’t belong to you without going to the local fast food joint or whipping up a proper meal. It’s probably not something a parent should consider feeding their rugrat on a regular basis simply because the veggies aren’t exactly great, and because I wouldn’t recommend encouraging your kids to eat all of their meals out of a box branded by a penguin
and a polar bear. You just can’t trust them penguins.