Chick-fil-A is rolling out a new Kid's Meal, according to a recent news release, aimed at fighting childhood obesity and promoting good nutrition. Comprised of grilled chicken nuggets, low-fat milk and fruit, either in a cup for finger-eating, or pureed in a bag for squeezing, the meals tally just over 200 calories and are very low in fat.
Marketing material on the company's website compares their leanest meal (210 calories, 3 grams fat) against a typical fast food meal clocking in at 540 calories and 20 grams of fat. Woody Faulk, Chick-fil-A's vice president of brand strategy and design, says the new meal options reflect the company's commitment to helping parents strike a balance between nutrition, convenience and price. "We want parents to know that they do have a choice at Chick-fil-A," Faulk says in the release.
Kids entering the restaurant have a choice between the meal pictured above and this ...
Sure, the advertised meal is in fact low in calories and fat, but what's a child really going to order (or at least want to order) when they arrive at Chick-fil-A? Choosing between pale, lifeless pieces of chicken protein with caramel color grill marks (the pre-cooked nuggets are actually reheated on a plastic non-stick sheet) and golden fried, deliciously juicy chicken bits freshly emerged from the frier is an easy one: gimmie the grease, Mom.
I used the website's nutrition calculator to build the meal I would have eaten as a kid, including fried chicken nuggets, juice and waffle fries. Here's a screen shot of the results:
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This is, of course, before dipping those delicious little oily nuggets into a plastic tub of Polynesian sauce. As a child I remember strategically using nuggets to make sure I mopped of every drop of that neon orange sweet and sour crack. The sauce adds an additional 110 calories to the meal.
Undoubtedly some parents will be thankful they can force their children to eat low-fat food when they drag them into a fast-food restaurant, but billing the new offering as a potential solution to the nation's childhood obesity problem is just dumb. Kids will never make healthy choices in a den of grease. The solution to our obesity (and other) food problems will never be solved inside a corporate restaurant. We'll have to go to the grocery store. We'll have to go to the kitchen.