Apparently children are not fans of Taco Bell's kids menu items, because the fast-food chain announced it will be saying sayonara to its smaller portions of cheese and chicken quesadillas and bean burritos come January 2014.
Taco Bell is the first major fast food chain to remove kids meal options from its menu. The reason? The franchise has made practically nothing off kids meals and now wants to shift its focus to millenials. Taco Bell is known for being a place for late-night munchies, after all.
But in the wake of this removal of kids meal options, we have put together a top ten list of the best kids meals at fast-food restaurants. If I were still ten years old or younger, I would totally order one of these meals.
Growing up, I always loved getting fried chicken at KFC. Staying true to my Southern roots, my favorite meal as a kid was (and still is today) a plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with white gravy, corn (on or off the cob), green beans, a roll and iced tea. The kids menu has changed since I was six years old, but the offerings are still quite tasty. Each child can order a Lil' Bucket filled with his or her choice of chicken, a side item, drink and applesauce. What kid doesn't want a personal bucket of food? It's fun and delicious.
As a kid I always called Whataburger "water burger" and had a certain amount of apprehension about eating what I thought was a burger made of water. After learning how to correctly say the name, I ordered a Justaburger and fell in love. The buttery (or greasy) bun with mustard and pickles (or added cheese) on a thin burger patty may seem simple to some, but to a kid, it is überly scrumptious. Fries were the only sides I had with Justaburgers or the Whatachick'n strips, but today you can give your kids something a lot healthier with choices of apple slices, fruit chews and milk.
8. Burger King
Um, you get a crown with any kids meal. How cool is that? Letting kids play while they eat their meals makes Burger King that much better. Whether kids get a burger or chicken nuggets ‑- with apple slices and milk, of course ‑- they can pretend to be royalty for the rest of the day.
7. James Coney Island
Parents and kids win at James Coney Island, especially if the kid is ten years old or younger because he or she eats free on Wednesdays. For some reason, I absolutely loved James Coney Island's corn dogs as a kid. In fact, I loved corn dogs, period. Make any kids meal a combo with french fries, tater tots or the healthiest choice of apple slices, a drink and a free frozen treat. Free ice cream? Yes, please.
Two words: tater tots. Oh and here's two more: grilled cheese. Those two items made up my Sonic lunch or dinner as a kid, along with a soda or a blue coconut slush if I was lucky. While today I go to Sonic for half-price sodas and the occasional Mozzarella cheese sticks, my go-to kids meal many years ago was a grilled cheese with a side of tater tots. My food cravings were plain, but the crispy, golden and toasted bread with melted American cheese was all I needed.
Because there needs to be at least one healthy option on this list, Subway is a great place for kids to get the classic lunchbox. They can have either a small sandwich with ham, turkey, roast beef or veggies, and a side of either apple slices, chips, yogurt or a cookie, all with a bottle of milk. The Fresh Fit For Kids meal is tasty and just what every kid needs to stay healthy.
4. Boston Market
There will always be a special place in my heart for Boston Market. Growing up, I always wanted to go there for lunch or dinner, mainly for the cornbread and mac 'n' cheese or those sweet, warm cinnamon apples. Boston Market is perfect for your kids to get a home-cooked meal if you're in a hurry or just run out of time. I have wonderful and delicious memories of getting Boston Market chicken, green beans and cornbread before ballet or soccer practice. Thankfully this place hasn't stopped offering kids meals.
What kid doesn't like the waffle fries or sweet, crispy chicken nuggets or strips from Chick-fil-A? This is one of those kids meals that I am very grateful and ecstatic is also available on the regular menu. Waffle fries are definitely my weakness and I am not ashamed to admit that.
I am going to go out on a limb and say I am not the only person who has dunked his or her fries or chicken nuggets in a Frosty. My mother thought it was the strangest thing, but I guess this was my first experiment with sweet and salty combinations. The Jr. Frosty with chicken nuggets or a cheeseburger from Wendy's is absolutely one of the best kids meals available today.
How could we not put the iconic kids meal as number one on this list? The Happy Meal at McDonald's is hands down the best such meal option. Ask any kids where they want to go for lunch and nine times out of ten, they will say McDonald's. We all grew up eating hamburgers, cheeseburgers and chicken McNuggets with salty, crispy french fries. Any trip to McDonald's was always a blast. Oh and the free ice cream afterward is seriously icing on the cake.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.