Do children really like primary colors and crooked letters? Also faces in food.

I’ve been noticing how whenever something is being specifically arranged for or directed at children, there seems to be an assumption that it should involve bright colors, and signage with crooked lettering. Children’s menus at restaurants often seem to include such items as pancakes with smiley faces drawn on them in whipped cream.

And so my question is, does this type of thing actually appeal to children? I can’t for the life of me remember thinking about it during my own childhood, but when I see it now, it all seems to be a bit patronizing toward the kids. And it seems a lot of younger kids might actually be upset by having a face stare back up at them from the breakfast plate. If the kid doesn’t want to eat, I don’t think a face in whipped cream is going to change his mind. And if he wants to eat, I don’t see why he wouldn’t enjoy a simple plate of pancakes. (I do remember that I had no problem eating ordinary restaurant food).

So for those who have experience with kids, what’s your take on this? Do these things really put children at their ease, or not?

WAG: that stuff is designed to appeal to the parents and their wallets more than to the kids. “Oh, isn’t it CUUUUUUTE? Honey, wouldn’t you like some pancakes with a happy face?”

Studies show that the face is just about the first thing an infant recognizes, so I’m sure the smiley faces are meant to evoke some general feeling of well-being. I know the Kunilou kids all LOVED smiley face, or Mickey Mouse or what have you pancakes.

As for the crookedy letters, I think they’re meant to evoke childish handwriting, not appeal to the child.

I remember feeling vaguely insulted by crooked or backwards letters by the time I was six or seven, so I’d say your instincts are right. On the other hand, I never liked the children’s menu anyway (why would anybody want to order fish sticks or hot dogs when they could have real food?), so perhaps I was a strange kid.

I have 3 kids, ages 3(girl), 5(boy) & 7(girl). They are VERY selective eaters (and vegetarian, which narrows their menu considerably). If you give thm a dinner plate with a pile of canteloupe, a pile o walnuts a pile of raisins, a pile of sliced olives and a carrot they’ll look at the plate and 10% of the time eat one or two of the items. 20% of the time eat 1 item and 70% they’ll drink their milk, make a mess of the whole thing and wander off to play. If you make a face out of the same stuff, it’ll all be gone to tummy town. Yes, faces work.

Bright colors seem to stimulate parents more than anything. My kids will be as vibrant as the colors that surround them. We made the mistake of painting my son’s bedroom egg-yolk-yellow ceiling & halfway down the walls, bright orange from the floor up to the yellow and with a kelly-green stripe where the yellow and orange met. He slept with my wife & me in our light green bedroom and played like Lucifer in his bedroom during the day.

I don’t think kids like primary colors so much as certain types of clothes. My boy will wear ANYTHING if it has a frie engine or some reference to tools on it. My olderst daughter is heavy into Barbie (I don’t even want to talk about it) and thus likes pinks, yellows, light blues, etc. We’re poor, so my youngest wears hand me downs.

Letter font doesn’t matter to the very young cuz thay can’t read. My 7-year old couldn’t care less about font.

And for what it’s worth, they don’t watch TV–they don’t like it.

When I was a kid, I used to get ice-cream sundaes from Friendly’s that were shaped like a clown - scoop of ice cream for the head, candies for the face, cookies for the ears, and a cone on top as the hat with whipped cream trim - and I thought that it was just terrific. I also really dug it when my mom made pancakes shaped like dinosaurs or Mickey Mouse. Novelty food has been a big hit with every kid I’ve ever had to feed.

I always figured they used bright colors in kids’ stuff because little babies see the bright ones best. Little kids are also unlikely to appreciate the combination of mauve and sienna, let’s say.

Crooked letters are meant to imitate the handwriting of the children themselves.