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Kids eating same things for breakfast 20 years on

By Nina M. Lentini

Marketing Daily
October 29
, 2007

The brands my differ, but what Grandma fed her children for breakfast is determining what today's young children find on their plates each morning. And, predicts food guru Harry Balzer, the children of today's tots will find more of the same 20 years hence.

"What's amazing to me is that I can tell you what kids will be eating for breakfast in 2027," says Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group and author of its annual Eating Patterns in America report, which studied breakfasts served to children under six over the past 20 years.

In the two-year period from March 2005 to February 2007, the top 10 breakfast foods were:

1
 
Cold cereal
2
 
Glass of milk
 
3
 
Fruit juice
4
 
Eggs
 
5
 
Fruit
 
6
 
Toast
 
7
 
Waffles
 
8
 
Pancakes
 
9
 
Hot cereal
 
10
 
Bacon
 

In the two-year period from March 1985 to February 1987, they were:

1
 
Cold cereal
 
2
 
Glass of milk
 
3
 
Fruit juice
 
4
 
Toast
 
5
 
Eggs
 
6
 
Pancakes
 
7
 
Fruit
 
8
 
Hot cereal
 
9
 
Bacon
 
10
 
Fruit drinks
 

For most of the last century, he says, cereal has been the top breakfast food for kids. "It's a fascinating process, that an entirely different generation is feeding their kids nearly the same 10 foods they were fed," he said. "It proves that the driving force in our lives, more than anything else, is our past."

And convenience, of course. As Balzer noted, the bacon may be pre-cooked today rather than fried on the stove top. The waffles are likely to be frozen, rather than made from scratch or even a mix.

In fact, waffles grew by 19 percentage points from 20 years ago, yogurt by 15 percentage points, and toaster pastries by 12 percentage points.

"Clearly, a new mother today must be more concerned with health than her mother was, yet they're still pretty much the same foods," muses Balzer. "Maybe the milk was whole milk, now it's 1%. Maybe the cereal is a different brand than what that mother ate as a child. Cereals are operating on a healthier platform today."

There are some foods that are more likely to be fed to kids each morning than when Reagan was president. They are waffles (up 19 percentage points); yogurt (+15); toaster pastries (+12), bars (+8) and fruit (+7).

Then, too, some things have fallen out of favor, such as toast, which dropped 20 percentage point; eggs (down 12), juice (-9), bacon (-6) and English muffins (-5).

The study may seem a simple one, but its implications for food and beverage marketers are strong. "Most of the foods eaten in this country are introduced to us by the age of five," Balzer says, "and we spend the rest of our lives looking for variations of them."

 

 

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