In my younger years, I ate some foods that I would probably never eat now. From three-foot long fruit snacks (Fruit by the Foot) to multi-colored yogurt (Trix), there were a variety of snacks, drinks and even entire meals that many my age would now simultaneously smile and shudder to think they once consumed.
Since I’ve been home though, I have felt a nostalgia for my past and wanted to see if some of these foods were just as good as I remember them. I knew I could trust staples like Capri Sun and Little Bites mini muffins, but I wondered if I would enjoy Kid Cuisine, a frozen meal for kids. I ate these a lot when I was little, so I picked one up when I went to Walmart and tried it a few days later.
As a child, I preferred the hamburger and pizza meals of this brand, but when I went to Walmart, they only had a popcorn chicken and french fries meal and a Spongebob Squarepants-shaped chicken nuggets meal. I went with the Spongebob nuggets since it seemed like something I would have eaten as a kid.
The Evolution of a Kid Cuisine
A blast from the past hit me upon opening up the box to reveal the classic blue plastic tray covered in thin plastic film. Just as in my childhood, the rectangular tray was divided into four compartments: a long rectangular compartment on the bottom for three nuggets shaped like Spongebob and Patrick and three square-shaped compartments on top holding, from left to right, mac and cheese, a “Bikini Bottom brownie” and corn.
After cooking the meal in the microwave, the sight of a corn kernel stuck in the cooked brownie and the brownie batter oozing slightly into my mac and cheese brought me right back to my childhood. No matter how hard you tried to keep components of the meal separate, they always seemed to come into contact with one another when you had to stir the mac and cheese or corn as it was heating. I had forgotten about this childhood pet peeve of mine, but I was oddly glad to witness it again at 21 years old.
One major difference between the early 2000s Kid Cuisine and the Kid Cuisine of 2020 is that the delicious chocolate pudding that was normally the dessert component of the meal has been replaced by a brownie. I used to love this pudding! Sometimes there were color-changing sprinkles that you could top it with, but whether or not your meal came with those sprinkles, this pudding was so yummy. It was the perfect finale to a TV dinner for seven-year-old me.
Like the pudding, the brownie was frozen, but it wasn’t a frozen cooked brownie. It was frozen batter. The brownie cooked from batter as you cooked the rest of the food. Though it has replaced the wonderful pudding, I will admit that the brownie tasted good. It did taste more like a chocolate cake than a fudgy, chewy brownie, but I didn’t mind.
I wonder if they changed the recipe for the mac and cheese, as it is less cheesy-tasting than I remember. The sauce on the noodles still seems to be the same consistency and color, but its taste was a little disappointing for this 21-year-old connoisseur. (Honestly, it’s probably been this way the entire time and my own palate has just matured.)
The corn was the same as always: frozen, unsauced yellow corn niblets. It could have come from a corn cob in 2005 or a corn cob in 2020. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. In that respect, it was very evocative of my childhood. As an older, more health-conscious consumer of this product, it was also nice to have some sort of vegetable with the meal.
We now come to the star of the show: the chicken nuggets. I did not expect a lot from the Kid Cuisine nuggets, so I was not disappointed. They were suitably nugget-y and formed into a fun shape. They were not the best frozen chicken nuggets I’ve ever had, but they were still pretty tasty. I did find one hard part in one of the nuggets, but I’ll let that slide.
Overall, the Kid Cuisine was surprisingly tasty and palatable for this reviewer. I don’t think I could eat it as often as I used to simply because I like more variety in my diet now, but maybe if I’m feeling wistful again, I’ll pick one up. This frozen meal happily brought back a lot of my childhood, and it was a wonderful comfort food to eat at my advanced age.
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.