When you think of kid-friendly flavors, what comes to mind?
“Sweet” is a common answer, because who doesn’t love fruit juice, candy and ice cream? So is “savory,” specifically when it’s related to cheese, pasta or red meat. The typical restaurant Kids’ Menu features staples like mac and cheese, spaghetti, burgers, and hot dogs. But, don’t make the mistake of assuming that children will only eat foods that are super sweet or savory. As it turns out, many will opt for bold, different flavors when given the chance.
Generation Z has never known life without the internet, making the culinary world more accessible than ever. In the past, an American boy growing up in rural Ohio might not have learned what kimchi was (let alone gotten to taste it) until he was in college and exposed to a bigger melting pot of cultures. Today, he can get on YouTube and watch cooking videos or vlogs that readily explain what kimchi is, how it’s made, and the role it plays in Korean cuisine. Post-Millennial generations are statistically more likely to want to try new foods and unfamiliar flavors. Their Millennial parents/caregivers are often happy to encourage culinary curiosity, with 66% of respondents to a Mintel survey confirming that their children “enjoy eating ethnic or international food.”
Of course, kid-friendly classics won’t be completely dethroned any time soon. Children craving a salty fix may still go for french fries, and those seeking a sour taste may opt for salt and vinegar potato chips. But, Japanese sushi and Tex-Mex burrito bowls will also fill this niche. When it comes to kids’ flavor fixations, the one that tends to surprise most adults is “spicy.”
Kids generally like spicy foods for the exact same reasons that grown-ups do: the “bite” that these snacks offer is exciting, fun, and different. Some find it thrilling to push their limits and see just how much heat they can handle (especially when compared to their peers), and others enjoy mixing spicy entrées with creamy sides to see how the different flavors and textures interact. For example, dipping spicy chicken nuggets into a cool ranch dipping sauce provides an unforgettable flavor experience that will keep kids coming back for more.
This generation’s adoration of international cuisine may explain the rising trendiness of sriracha in recent years (including a 54% rise in product availably between 2016 and 2018). While flavors featuring red jalapeño peppers (like sriracha sauce) aren’t exactly new, the unique combination of flavors that sriracha sauce offers, as well as its exotic-sounding name, make it both appealing and exciting.
If you’ve got hungry children to feed, now is the perfect time to capitalize on their more adventurous palates and test out some spicier options at lunchtime. Somma’s new line of spicy sriracha breaded chicken, including tenders, chunks, nuggets, and filets, is a good place to start! Like our other products, they’re free of artificial flavors and preservatives and feature whole grain breading.