Meet the Koodies

Picture an 8-year-old who can ascertain the difference in aroma between Vietnamese cinnamon and plain ol' stuff at 25 paces. Or a preschooler who turns up her nose at McNuggets to beg for smoked salmon. Those, dear friends, are Koodies.

We’re reprinting this blog from Phil Lempert’s Supermarket Guru website, as he did such a great job of writing about this new nascent trend.

koodie -noun slang. A kid keenly interested in food, especially eating, cooking or watching reruns of Julia Child. A kid who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a mini-gourmet; usually trained by one or both parents to have an unusual, and sometimes fanatic, desire to eat unusual foods. Evolution from the now defunct word “foodie.”

There's a new kid in town, and instead of the same old chicken nuggets and French fries, this kid wants sushi, pad Thai, or smoked salmon in their Happy Meal! These foods may not be kids’ menu options as of yet, but the truth is that America is beginning to see a more sophisticated and adventurous palate in its children.

 Nancy Tringali Piho, author of the book, My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, has been gaining attention from the media along with Matthew Amster-Burton’s Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater, and Emily Franklin’s Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes. All three of these books are born from a generation of foodie parents who want to share their love of food with their children.

As mom and dad are more interested in honing their own culinary skills and approaching food preparation as a hobby or enjoyable activity, their children are in turn sharing in a family culinary experience that goes beyond popping the box in the microwave. This new family experience lays the groundwork for more positive associations with food instead of the negative associations that can come from hurried, hectic schedules and power struggles over what to eat last minute.

Parents have the biggest influence on their children’s taste buds and set the basis for their eating practices for life. Our nation’s children are deep set in an obesity crisis. Studies report children are not getting the nutritional value they need for their growing bodies, and we are seeing the adults working to overhaul school menus. A series of cookbooks and guides have emerged attempting to teach parents how to hide healthy foods in their kids’ meals to sneak good nutrition into their diets. That is not the answer. Raising a generation of “Koodies,” however, just might be.

While some may snicker at the thought of a generation of kids who find discussing the subtle differences between white and black truffles more enjoyable than collecting the latest Bakugan releases, the truth is that unless we can instill a deeper understanding of where our foods come from and how to prepare them, it is unlikely that we will ever reverse food-related diseases and obesity. Our future might just rest in the skillets and bowls of the “Koodies.”

Although we just witnessed the death of Gourmet Magazine, food and cooking shows have become more popular than ever, and chefs continue to achieve rock star status. Food blogging and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter prove the interest in food is well and alive as do the tens of thousands of teen-made food videos on YouTube, which include recipes, product reviews nutrition advice and even food songs. At any given time of the day, someone is posting or blogging about a recipe they’ve made at home or some amazing dish they’ve discovered at a restaurant. Our country’s children are a tech-savvy communication generation and have at their fingertips a voice in the new media,  which they understand how to use all too well.

Our children are our future, and as these new “Koodies” evolve, look for both CPG brands and restaurants to make their kids’ meals more nutritious and offer foods that aren’t boring and offer a culinary experience. Retailers can use this opportunity as well to offer in-store tastings for children to try new things, recipe demonstrations that are fun for kids, or parent/child foodie events that encourage family time as well as enjoying food together. The “Koodies” are here, and as they mature into adulthood, look for the food world to be led by a new generation who really know their food; and we will all benefit.

This is also reported on The Lempert Report’s 3-minute video on Koodies on YouTube.