Kids in the Kitchen

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The harried pace of single-parent or two-income households often leaves kids to fend for themselves. So more and more of them are donning aprons and preparing meals-and that spells opportunities for marketers.

Some 88 percent of kids ages 6 to 17 said they occasionally made something to eat, mostly snacks (75 percent) and breakfast (66 percent), according to a Nickelodeon/Yankelovich Youth Monitor survey. But 51 percent of respondents also make lunch at times, and 31 percent said they make dinner. Even the youngest respondents rolled up their sleeves once in a while: 75 percent of 6-to-8-year-olds said they've fixed meals; 9 percent claimed to have made dinner, though most, 60 percent, said they fix snacks.

Some 48 percent of youngsters in 1999 counted making meals for themselves among activities they do around the house most of the time, up from 40 percent in 1995. And 26 percent said making meals for the family was something they did most of the time, up from just 15 percent in 1995. Some 35 percent of respondents said they often check labels for calorie counts or fat content.

More important to marketers, 92 percent said they either like or do not mind preparing their own meals, citing the ability to choose food they like, the fun of cooking, and the flexibility of eating when and as much or as little as they want.

The opportunity lies in making cooking easy, fun and educational. "Help kids develop 'cooking smarts' by providing tips on reading labels, calculating measurements, and following recipes," the survey recommends.

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