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Chick-Fil-A: Kids Meals That Push Fat AND Fitness

By KJ Dell'Antonia |

I'd rather have this than a Twilight bracelet, wouldn't you?

Chick-Fil-A’s latest kids meal promotion actually puts some fun back into kids’ meal toys. Even better, it’s active fun: the chain is offering promotional toys based on the Guiness Book of World Records, and kids can score books, cards or (probably most entertainingly) a timer, all with world records set by people and animals and corresponding challenges for kids. Some challenges are more active than others ( “how many jump-rope skips can you make in 30 seconds?” vs. “how many golf balls can you hold in two hands for 30 seconds?”) but all are more interesting than your average plastic tchotske (especially the ones promoting teen movie Twilight).

But that doesn’t make Chick-Fil-A the patron saint of kids’ meals. As Carolyn pointed out yesterday, plenty of people object to offering any toy with a meal: why reward kids for eating? And particularly not for eating high-calorie, high fat fast-food meals (which, for those of us who like that sort of thing, should really be its own occasional reward). And Chick-Fil-A’s meals themselves don’t necessarily beat out those of other chains in the nutrition department. At 590 calories (and 24 grams of fat) for the larger, full-on kids’ meal of 6 nuggets, fries and a coke, a kid who eats that for lunch plus breakfast, dinner and a couple of snacks is going to need the extra workout that the card suggesting a backyard obstacle race encourages. Does the fact that it’s a better toy make it a better deal?

One thing that’s often missing from this debate, though, is that chains do have healthier offerings. Cut your Chick-Fil-A meal to 4 nugget, replace the fries with a fruit cup and skip the Coke and you have a decent 175 calories (more if you add milk). Drop the Coke–a small sacrifice–and the meal is a fairly respectable 480, although you’re still coming in pretty high on the fat count. Remove your own personal expectations from this, and kids might make choices that surprise you: mine like McDonald’s apple slices, while I think letting a chain cut up an apple, spray it with de-browning chemicals, package it in plastic and charge you extra for it is ridiculous. But if I offer the apple, they usually pool their resources: one chooses fries, another the apple, everybody wins. The obstacle standing between them and a healthier meal turned out to be me.

The activity-promoting promotional toys are a similar effort from a chain to offer a compromise between the kid of food we expect from them as individuals, and the healthier goals we set as a society. The goal, after all, is to get the customer in, and get the customer to come back. This is at least a laudable effort to do that without pandering, as Carolyn put it, to our personal addictions to fat, fat and more fat. In a line of glittering fast food choices, I’d make Chick-Fil-A my stop for that alone.

Except, of course, that the nearest one is at least a hundred miles away.

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About KJ Dell'Antonia

kjda

KJ Dell'Antonia

KJ Dell'Antonia is a regular contributor to Slate's DoubleX, a contributing editor for Kiwi Magazine and the co-author of Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos. She lives in New Hampshire with four kids, two dogs, one husband and a bad coffee habit and blogs about family bonds, balance, and blend at RaisingDevils.com.

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0 thoughts on “Chick-Fil-A: Kids Meals That Push Fat AND Fitness

  1. BlackOrchid says:

    Chik-Fil-A is the best of the bunch. Shame you don’t have one near you, or really any experience with the chain whatsoever with which to opine on the Internet. The Original Sandwich is a healthy fast-food option and my kids prefer it to the kids meals anyway.

  2. KJ Dell'Antonia says:

    Oh no, I have eaten at Chick-fill-a! I love them and do look for it when I can (although it’s because I like the nuggets…) I should have been clearer. But I can’t deny that this nuggets and waffle fries offer a lot of fat for their calories. But I eat them anyway…

  3. BlackOrchid says:

    Fortunately my children don’t like french fries! Mostly cos they never have them. Myself, on the other hand! . . . Chik-Fil-A tries to do things right. I feel I must defend them since my son has this awful tendency to scream at and try to hit the poor kid dressed up as a cow for some odd reason . . .

  4. bob says:

    Just don’t go on Sunday, because they’re closed, presumably to pray for all the chicks they’ve fil-a’ed. And also for making a hash out of the english language.

  5. Amy says:

    Love for Chick fil a over here. The one by my house has a reasonably clean indoor playscape. And their (multiple!) healthy alternatives to fries are things my kids actually want. For example, their carrot and raisin salad is yummy and kid-friendly (although probably full of sugar at least it’s actual FOOD), and they also have a respectable fruit salad. And the kicker is that the kids’ meals “toys” are not plastic junk!

  6. jenny tries too hard says:

    My kids and I LOVE the fruit cups they offer as an alternative to the waffle fries…so much better than the dinky apple slices other places. I actually kind of hate the waffle fries…if I’m going to go for fries at all, I want it to taste like an indulgence, gosh darn it. And, yeah, the toys aren’t junk made to promote movies I wouldn’t dare let my kids see. The last time we went, the kids got full-size Berenstain Bears books.

  7. mbaker says:

    Chick-Fil-A is the only fast foodplace we take our toddler to. I like the fact that the nuggets looks and tastes like actual chicken breast instead of processed chicken mash and the fruit cup is loads better then what the other fast food places offer. Plus their prizes are much better than everyone else’s. We’ve gotten Between the Lions cds we listen to in the
    car and a few Doreen Cronin books (Click, Clack Moo, etc.) that we love to read. The best part is that during weekday lunches there’s also a sweet grandmotherly woman there ready to help carry trays, get utensils, etc. When you’re a tired new mom trying to wrangle a baby and a tray she’s a god send.

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