A trip down the grocery aisle reveals something food manufacturers and marketers know all too well: kids hands-down prefer shapes and characters when it comes to food. From fish-shaped crackers to dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets to packaging with appealing critters or friends, kids go for the fun when given the option with food shapes.

For example, a study from Yale published in Pediatrics in July 2010 found that  children preferred the taste of graham crackers and gummies, and to a smaller degree carrots, when packaging of these foods included popular cartoon characters when compared with identical foods with no characters on the packaging.

My two-year-old isn’t any different. She is exponentially more interested in eating foods when fun shapes are involved. I thought this technique was overrated until, in a last-ditch effort, I morphed the shape of a whole-grain tortilla with a cookie cutter and she not only went for it but was excited about it.

My daughter is in love with her hear-shaped quesadilla

My daughter is in love with her hear-shaped quesadilla.
Photo copyright Adrienne Davenport.

Here are some especially cute shapes I’m itching to try:

  • Alphabet shapes – CopperGifts.com offers a version of alphabet letters that are big enough to shape more substantial foods (sandwiches, layers, etc.) while actually being legible for your little learners.
source: Coppergifts.com

source: Coppergifts.com

  • Taste in action – These quirky ninja shapes by Fred & Friends are sure to appeal to your stealthy little kiddos and help food sneak itself into their little mouths.
source: Amazon.com

source: Amazon.com

  • Jigsaw – R&M Products offers a fun square-shaped puzzle concept that cuts your food into four interlocking pieces, perfect for eating on the go, sharing or just plain practicing fine motor skills and problem solving while taking a snack break.
source: Amazon.com

source: Amazon.com

Do any of you have favorite shape-changing techniques? Or any favorite shapes?

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