Mom and dad weren’t suckers, and they certainly didn’t raise one. My parents never fell for the Lunchables trap. Why bother with four pieces of ham and a handful of crackers and cheese when lunch meat exists in full sized form. Parents buying Lunchables were paying for packaging. The worst thing is that Lunchables weren’t even that cool. They occupied a parallel station to a well packed lunch, but neither one was touching hot lunch. This is especially true if hot lunch featured French bread pizza, or even better, Magic Pan on the days when the local pizza place provided pies to buy by the slice. I’d put my lunches up against Lunchables any day of the week, except Saturday and Sunday of course because who packs lunch on those days? My mom’s bag lunch game was strong. Can of Pepsi, PBJ or salami, Little Debbie, and whatever fruit snack was in vogue.
When it came to dinner time, take everything I wrote above and throw it in the trash because I was fully on board with Lunchables’ dinnertime equivalent, Kid Cuisine. While still around today, Kid Cuisine occupied the spotlight in the early to mid 1990s. Introduced by ConAgra in 1990, Kid Cuisine was the junior equivalent of a TV dinner, a Hungry Man for hungry boys (and girls). Kid Cuisine was easily identifiable by its bright blue packaging, Disney-like bubble lettering, and its mascot, a penguin who went by the moniker BJ Penguin, and his buddy Chef, a polar bear. Apparently BJ’s been replaced by some young punk penguin named KC but I don’t know anything about that apart from he’s obviously a scab who sold out by letting the company give him a corporate name, so BJ will always be my penguin.
Kid Cuisine meals consisted of all the trash a 10 year old wants his dinner to consist of. Sure, there were variations with ridiculous options like corn and peas, but what self respecting child wants that when you can have chicken tenders with potato wedges? Corn is for loser children and Iowans. To make the meal a fully rounded one, Kid Cuisine threw in applesauce and, at least in the early years, some sort of candy bar. I don’t know about your mom, but mine sure as hell wasn’t including a Snickers as one of our normal dinner offerings, so this was big. Also the applesauce was stellar.
My foray into the world of Lunchables was brief but deep, only lasting a year or two before I physically grew out of them. By 12 years old, two or three chicken nuggets wasn’t cutting it anymore. Even so, I have very fond memories of them and even sometimes crave that applesauce. Lunchables has always been and continues to be a scam, but if my non-existent children ever asked me to get Kid Cuisine, I’d be concerned that I was hearing the voices of invisible children, but I would be impressed by the ghost kids’ taste.
Were you a Kid Cuisine fan? What were your favorites? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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