Alpha Meals

In the past few months, I've started to pay more attention to children's food. That is to say, food products designed for and targeted toward the younger set (and their caregivers). Maybe it's because my friends are having kids, maybe it's because I'm pushing 30, or maybe it's because I'm attracted to bright colors and simplistic slogans ("They're GRRREAT!!!").

What has really struck me during my recent strolls through the supermarket is the number of foods shaped like letters of the alphabet. Granted, SpongeBob and Woody from Toy Story are also trendy choices for formed food, but letter shapes seem to endure. My mom ate alphabet soup as a child, served it to me when I was elementary school, and I'll probably dish it out to my young'uns, should have I them.

But here's my question: What's the point?

If you're rolling your eyes right now and saying, "The point, Joanna, is to have fun", I hear you. Dancing and singing letters on Sesame Street are entertaining, so why shouldn't eating the alphabet be pleasurable?

I'm curious, however, as to whether some people purposely choose these alphabet-shaped noodles, cereals, etc., over other (shaped) foods because they think they will actually help kids learn to read and spell. Also, do they think mealtime is an appropriate moment to get in some extra studying?

Parents, you tell me. What's your motivation for serving alpha meals?

And please don't just say 'cause they're A-B-C-Delicious.

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Joanna O'Leary