Grown-up Food Brands Are After Your Kids

Tykes are taking an interest in foodie culture, and marketers are happy to cater to them

For years, marketers created kid-friendly versions of adult foods—Frosted Flakes are essentially sugar-coated corn flakes, for example. But lately, there’s been a push toward food marketing with the whole family in mind.

Uncle Ben’s and Barilla, to name just a couple of brands, have launched campaigns encouraging family dinners and parents cooking with their kids. Bon Appétit, published by Condé Nast, features a column called The Providers about being a working parent and cooking for the family. For the magazine’s ice cream feature in June, kids were pictured digging into their sundaes in favor of the typical studio shot of a forlorn bowl of food. “So many of the editors on staff have young kids of their own,” said editor in chief Adam Rapoport. “And we like to write about what we as a staff love to cook.”

Food Network Magazine, a partnership of Hearst Magazines and the Scripps network, will take the idea one step further in September with a food magazine for kids. The 32-page title will be affixed to the third cover of Food Network Magazine.

While still in the prototype phase, the spinoff is expected to follow the look and celebrity chef formula of Food Network Magazine—except in the kids’ edition, chefs will cook with their kids. Other features will include kid-friendly menus and features on cooking gear for budding chefs.

The debut will coincide with family cooking-themed programming on the Food Network and content on its website.

Vicki Wellington, publisher of Food Network Magazine, said the idea for a kids’ magazine grew out of requests from readers for family-focused content and a recognition that children’s tastes were getting more sophisticated, a result of the rise of celebrity chefs, cooking programs and more dads cooking at home.

“It’s for parents, but there’s something going on in the culture,” Wellington said of the food craze. “There are 10 million kids under 10 watching Food Network programming. They’re eating things we never would have been eating when we were younger. We’re getting letters from parents sending photos of their kids cooking [recipes] from the issue. Guy [Fieri]’s got kids, and they’re cooking with him all the time.”

Wellington expects the kids’ edition to appeal to food brands that advertise in parenting magazines.

George Carey, CEO and founder of The Family Room, a consulting company, said the kids-and-food trend is about families wanting to spend more time together. There’s a clear marketing opportunity there, he said.

“There are only 23 million kids [ages 6-12] in the United States, and creating any kind of product that can get $100 million in sales is very difficult,” Carey said. And yet, there are 138 million family members in the U.S.

Click here to view more content from The Kids Issue.