What, Exactly, Are Zoo Pals Plates?

Whether you preferred the pink pig, the striped tiger, or the brown cow, many young adults have serious flashbacks at the mention of Zoo Pals. For hungry kids, the plates gave their meals personality, with the added bonus of dividing different foods thanks to their unique design – one large main section and two smaller cup-like compartments – all featuring a brightly colored, friendly animal. Gone were the days of ranch dressing contaminating your ketchup while you tried to enjoy your chicken nuggets, or juice from fruit touching your savory items. Much to the chagrin of fans everywhere, however, the plates were discontinued in 2014. 

Back in the day, critics of Zoo Pals disliked the wasteful nature of the single-use plates (which also meant less bang for the couple of bucks that a small pack cost). Environmentally conscious fans of the plates have therefore called for reusable Zoo Pals, and one artist on TikTok took matters into their own hands and created a ceramic one — shaped and painted to look exactly like the iconic panda bear plate.

While many of the kids who grew up eager to eat on Zoo Pals are adults now, that hasn't stopped fans from reminiscing about their favorite plates and all but demanding a comeback, with online petitions garnering tens of thousands of signatures from nostalgic millennials who long to eat off of the plates that remind them of their childhood. Fortunately for those kids at heart, Zoo Pals are back.

The return of Zoo Pals

When the news of Zoo Pals' return was announced in August 2023, excited fans took to social media to express their delight. One TikTok user shared that they were motivated to buy the plates because they were not allowed to have them as a kid due to the extra expense, a sentiment that many fans have echoed.


ZooPals Plates are back!!! #hefty #zoopals #zoopalsmakeseatingfun #2000s #00s #y2k #nostalgia #millenial #millenialnostalgia #zoopalsplatestiktok #zoopalsareback

♬ Kawaii Aesthetic – LoES

Hefty revealed in a statement to Mashed that it was "blown away by the widespread call from fans begging us to bring them back. The brand fan response to the relaunch has been amazing to see and we are excited to bring back this nostalgic product that delivers so much joy to children and adults alike, as well as to introduce it to a whole new generation."

Indeed, the fan response was so epic that by September 2023 — just one month after the relaunch — Zoo Pals were already (temporarily) sold out. Fear not; there's no need to scour second-hand and vintage sites to get your hands on this relic from your childhood, and you can skip the Etsy sellers offering sealed, vintage Zoo Pals for almost $80 per a pack of plates. The brand encourages fans to follow it on social media to keep tabs on when the Zoo Pals are back in stock at both Target and Amazon. Once they are, you can enjoy grown-up versions of your favorite childhood foods on adorable Zoo Pals plates and perhaps even heal your inner child.