What we found:
Typically, when asked to discuss the foods they like, kids name their choices and justify them with a simple explanation of good taste. With this in mind, our key finding comes not only from identifying kids favorite summertime foods, but also in looking at the reasoning behind their choices. Taste may be the price of entry, but summertime food preferences rely heavily on the circumstances and rituals involved in preparation and eating.
Kids define summertime foods in a number of ways. The number-one definer is being a good compliment to a hot summer day. With that in mind, the all-time favorite comes as no surprise: Kids scream for ice cream. Their favorite ice cream flavors, in order, are chocolate, vanilla and mint chocolate chip. The brands most commonly associated with this favorite summer snack are Breyers and Edy’s Grand Ice Cream.
The number-two definer of summertime food is preparation on the outside grill. Kids enjoy the ritual of seeing the food on the BBQ, smelling it as it cooks and being able to enjoy the instant satisfaction of a grilled meal. Not surprisingly, the all-time favorite summertime meal is a grilled hot dog. Favorite franks come from Oscar Meyer and Ball Park.
Another common association with summertime foods is the ability to be messy and active, while enjoying an outside snack. For that reason, watermelon is also named as a summertime favorite. Kids happily cited the juicy and hands-on process of digging into a fresh slice of watermelon.
What kids said:
We asked kids to invent the perfect summertime food, tell us the best things about it, and think about how they might sell it. The two most common themes in the responses were combining a number of favorites into a single new product, and adapting favorite foods-which often need parental preparation-into something they could fix up all by themselves.
‘I would invent pizza-flavored ice cream called `Liquid Pizza-no need to heat, just eat!’ The best thing about it would be that you can take it from the freezer and eat it without heating it. I would advertise on Nickelodeon, and it would cost US$3 per gallon.’ Steve, 11, Illinois
‘I would invent a combination of peaches and nectarines. It would be called a `nectapeach.’ It would be juicy and sweet and ripe. I would sell it at a grocery store and it would cost 99 cents a pound.’ Michelle, 9, Missouri
‘I would invent a triple-decker sandwich. It would have bologna and mustard on the first level, peanut butter and grape jelly on the second level, then a level of ham and cheese. I love all three and think a sandwich made of all three would be neat! I don’t think I would sell it because I don’t think anyone else would eat it-except maybe my little brother. Mom and Dad say yuck. But I would sell it to my brother for 50 cents.’ Hans, 9, Minnesota
‘I would invent a salami and cheese hot dog. I love salami and cheese and I love hot dogs, so maybe I could put them together. I would sell it at the beach and it would cost US$2.’
Stephanie, 10, New York
‘I would make ice cream that had five different flavors in it at once without them blending together. It wouldn’t melt until your tongue touched it. This ice cream would be called `The Ultimate Shiver.’ I would open up a special ice cream stand and sell my ice cream in small edible tubs made of ice cream cone. I would sell it for about US$1.50.’
Ashley, 12, Canada
‘A popsicle with an action figure inside. Superhero pops. The best thing about it would be getting the action figure and having a popsicle on a very hot day. An ice cream man would sell them for US$1.’ Sam, 8, Nevada
Next month: With back-to-school just around the corner, a kid’s thoughts turn to. . . clothes. Kid Think checks out what hot brands and stylin’ threads are in with the younger set this season.
Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, investigates a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Kid Think talks with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of more than 3,300 on-line families across the United States. Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-415-2992 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.