FROM TRACEY CARDWELL ROBERTS, MANAGER OF OUR CHEF FOR A DAY FIELD TRIP PROGRAM
I’m old enough to remember the Life cereal ad campaign featuring a picky Mikey. His older brothers offer him the new cereal that’s “supposed to be good for you.” They say, “He won’t like it. He hates everything.” The tag line is then their shocked “He likes it! He likey!” Yes, I know it’s corny, but it was the 70’s. You wouldn’t believe how it caught on, the equivalent of “going viral” today.
Through our CHEF for a Day field trip program, I get to welcome a new group of students to PB&J each day. They come through the doors with eyes wide and a readiness to experience something new. I could pretend that my own children come to the dinner table every night with that same excitement, but we both know I’d be lying.
With students here at PB&J, I use the same “act” I’ve used with my own kids for fifteen plus years — I channel my inner actress and HAM IT UP. Come on, you knew this post couldn’t possibly avoid a Green Eggs and Ham pun. After pitching this idea to thousands of students, I still want to do a happy dance every single time I hear a child say, “I didn’t think I’d like this, but I do.” YES!
Here’s the goofy approach that has worked for me. First of all, it’s helpful to channel the enthusiasm you would use to talk about the thing you love most, like when my son talks endlessly to me about all the intricacies of his favorite video game.
Here’s my set-up:
“Trying a new food is such an AWESOME adventure! I LOVE it when I get to try something new. When I’m about to taste it, I think to myself, “Will I like it?” I don’t know! It’s so exciting! Sometimes, when I take a bite of a new food, I think, “I’m not sure how I feel about it,” because the taste is so new. My taste buds are so SURPRISED that I don’t really get to taste the flavor of the food. After first feeling shocked, then my taste buds calm down. It often takes two or three bites before I really start to sense all the flavors of the new food.“
Some kids are more cautious about trying something new. Here are a couple ideas to positively encourage the ones who aren’t sure:
- Ask them to “Take a bite and see if you can taste the (insert ingredient here).” If there are six ingredients, this is a great way to get them to take at least six bites. By that point, the flavor is familiar, and they usually keep eating. I like to make a big deal out of it if they say they can taste something I can’t. “Wow! Your taste buds are better than mine at that!”
- Let your kids vote on the recipe like we do here at PB&J. They love to have their say with a simple thumbs up, thumb sideways, or thumbs down. We tell them that “At PB&J, we are never going to MAKE you eat something. You just don’t get to vote unless you try it. After all, you can’t say “I don’t like it” if you’ve never even tried it. You don’t KNOW if you like it.”
- Be playful and encouraging. The exact words aren’t important. My wish is that you get to experience a “Mikey likey!” moment at your table. Don’t give up! It can happen! ?