The Untold Truth Of Kid Cuisine

Is Kid Cuisine the first thing you ever remember cooking for yourself? If you're a millennial or a Zoomer, it may well be, at least if you count "sticking something in the microwave" as a form of cooking. Well, microwaving is a pretty major milestone when it comes to learning to feed yourself, and it's a skill that will stick with you for the rest of your life — even when you've long since graduated to more sophisticated fare such as Lean Cuisine.

Kid Cuisine, which debuted in 1990, wasn't the first line of frozen meals targeted towards latchkey kids. Eat This, Not That! makes the claim that Libbyland Dinners were the first line of kid-friendly TV dinners, and they came out all the way back in 1971. Still, those only lasted for a short five years (any Gen-X kids remember eating these?), while Kid Cuisine is entering its 30th year, so they must be doing something right.

KC isn't Kid Cuisine's first mascot

KC's full name, according to the product website, is Kid Cuisine, and he's a company man through and through. Despite being in his late 20s, he describes himself as being "just like any other kid," and when asked what his favorite thing is, he gives the super-suck up answer: "Keeping the fun going by giving kids their favorite foods in real meals that are still really fun." While KC describes himself as "Playful. And curious," the Retro Junk blog instead calls him "some little punk penguin that tries to fit in with every trend" and Children of the 90s says he's a "ripoff penguin" as well as a "replacement second-string penguin mascot."

And a second-stringer is exactly what KC is. Kid Cuisine originally had a different penguin mascot called BJ, although no-one seems to remember what these initials stood for. BJ wasn't a solo act, however, he also had a goofy sidekick polar bear named Chef. Frozen food equals arctic animals — okay, we get it. And a chef, that makes sense. Why they got rid of this dynamic duo, though, that we may never know. As Children of the 90s asks, "Who makes the food if there's no chef? It just doesn't add up." Chalk this one up to yet one more unsolved mystery of the late 20th century.

Kid Cuisine is big on movie tie-ins

From its name to its mascot to its packaging, Kid Cuisine is all about the marketing. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are quick to partner with any kids' movies that want a frozen food tie-in. A look through iSpot's TV commercial archives reveals Kid Cuisine ad campaigns featuring meals that have been named in honor of Star Wars, the Avengers, Spider-Man, Frozen, Hotel Transylvania 2, Rio 2, and of course Penguins of Madagascar.

Currently, Kid Cuisine is offering a range of SpongeBob SquarePants-themed meals, most likely in anticipation of the eventually-to-be-released movie Sponge On the Run (as well as the finally-released Nintendo game Battle for Bikini Bottom). Expect to see Friends Forever Mac and Cheese, Bubble Popcorn Chicken, Bikini Bottom Chicken Breast Nuggets, and Oh Buoy! Chicken Breast nuggets in your supermarket frozen meals aisle (these last two are differentiated only by their desserts — the former features pudding, while the latter has chocolate chip cookies).

Kid Cuisine is – or isn't – more nutritious than you'd think

Nobody's going to mistake Kid Cuisine for health food, and Eat This, Not That! mentions that there are more health-conscious children's frozen food options available such as Yummy Spoonfuls and Kidfresh. Still, you could do a lot worse when it comes to feeding your kids (or yourself, if you're still a sucker for paint-your-own mini pizzas). As Kid Cuisine's website points out, many of their meals feature "full servings of vegetables." Most of which are corn, yeah, and the rest of which appear to be tater tots, but still, that's more variety than you get in a plateful of pizza rolls.

An NBC News article called out one Kid Cuisine meal as the worst kids' packaged lunch in America (though it's unclear as to why they designated it as lunch instead of dinner). The All-American Fried Chicken, they said, came in at 470 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 710 milligrams of sodium. As an alternative, they suggested the Constructor Beef Patty Sandwich with 350 calories, 9 grams fat, and 480 milligrams of sodium. While both of those items appear to be discontinued, it seems like the worst of the current lineup would be the Mini Corn Dogs, with 490 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 780 milligrams of sodium, while the best of the bunch might be the Spaghetti with Mini Meatballs, coming in at 400 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 530 milligrams of sodium.