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Applebees Shmapplebees

Posted by: David Kiley on February 22, 2005

Back from the three-day weekend, and yet another trip to Applebees with my three-year old son.

Turns out despite our best efforts to limit his macaroni and cheese intake to our own home-made whole-grain mac and organic cheddar cheese, he wants the stuff Applebees calls mac-and-cheese.

For the uninitiated, Applebee’s mac and cheese bears an uncanny resemblance to the 39-cent box (with coupon) of Kraft mac and cheese my room-mates and I ate in college. I figure I’m paying roughly 5.99 for ten cents worth of product. But at some point, after seeing some Applebees ads on Kid TV, a trip to Applebees became for him what dinner and movie is to us.

I know I have been vociferous in my condemnation of crappy food like this. So, why should I give in even once in a while? In this case, it was to reward a six-hour car ride in which he was incredibly well-behaved and good tempered despite the fact that he had no idea his Mother wasn’t going to be making the trip before he got into the minivan. But Im bothered by rewarding him with a food item I don’t believe is good for him. So, I have to figure out a way to reward with him with a trip to the place he loves but find a better choice.

It's frustrating, as I have said in previous entries, to try so hard to keep him eating the good stuff--the stuff without lots of fat, salt and corn syrup. I am encouraged by a recent Harris Poll that seems to indicate there are more parents like me who want some help from the food companies themselves and our government leaders to make this job a little easier. In the poll, 55 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "The government should play a more active role in regulating the types of marketing and advertising that the food industry directs toward children." Fifty-eight percent agreed that the government "should take companies to court if they mislead children and their parents about the nutritional value of the foods they sell." And 68 percent subscribed to the statement, "Advertising by the food industry that is directed towards children is a major contributor to the rising rate of childhood obesity."

Reader Comments


June 8, 2005 2:47 AM

I think what you have said is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Applebees offers a whole healthly menu for kids, including a grilled chicken sandwich, and broc, carrots/ celery instead of french fries. Maybe instead of bashing the food chains, you should set limits in what your children should order. If you are rewarding your child for good behavior, and you let him order what HE LIKES, don't complain when he orders something that every kid in america( even adults) loves. As far as the other crap you wrote about obesity, If you are a good parent, you watch what your kids eat! MIlk or juice instead of soda, grilled instead of fried. How dare you to blame APPLEBEES for your bad parenting!! What next?? Are you going to sue them for serving mac'n'cheeze?? If i'm correct, aren't you the one who paid for this "crappy" food?? SO, what next? Are you going to start demanding they stop advertising kitkat bars, chips and ice cream???? Think about the stuff you are saying??? Is it the food industry??? Or should you take a look in the mirror????


November 26, 2005 4:21 PM

I agree with Melinda. It is the parents' responsiblity to raise their children in a healthy way. Restaurants might be advertising to the children, but ultimately it is the parent that spends the money. You cannot blame the restaurant for what you allow your child to eat. Childhood obesity is a product of bad parenting. Learn to say no and teach your children the importance of being healthy.


December 19, 2005 10:03 AM

You know something, I agree with this fat man. He's right. According to research, 98% of all child related deaths are due to eating excessive amount of Mac'n'cheese. Mac'n'cheese is known as the silent killer. People can easily choke on it, and most macaroni is hard as a rock especially at applebee's. Give David Killey a break, he knows what hes saying. applebee's kills lets start a riot. Plus u gotta be pretty gay to write mac'n'cheese. Its macaroni and cheese, ok? I love chiz.


January 14, 2006 8:27 AM

Ok yes there are alot of "bad" food out there but in moderation it is ok. If you are any kind of parent you would say no and get them something else. Or you can wait a few years until your child is so over weight that they hate you for getting them that way. Or you can try suing Applebees for what they offer just like everyone else in America.


January 17, 2006 4:40 PM

I am a server for applebee's. I do realize that we do offer items that are not the healthiest, but we are also extremly accomodating. If Mr. Kiley had simply voiced his concerns to his server he or she could have pointed him in the right direction. Perhaps a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole wheat bun with a side of steamed broc,(not my first choice as a child), applesauce, or carrot and celery sticks. A parent should keep watch of what their children eat. They are YOUR children not adults. By the way our mac n cheese is Kraft, but is not the powder variety. More like shells and cheese. One more thing, please tip its how we make our living. 20% is kind and should be standard.


February 16, 2006 2:00 PM

I think that it's funny when a man who is obviously overweight himself, criticizes a restaurant, that he chose to go to, because it doesn't serve food exactly as he prepares it at home. Perhaps you should set the example for your son and make yourself healthy before you start limiting what he can and cannot enjoy. It isn't Applebees fault you CHOSE to go there. Maybe you should learn to take responsibility for your own actions, suck it up, and be a parent. Quit blaming others for your decisions.

David Kiley

February 17, 2006 6:05 PM

First off...IM not fat. I am a little short for my weight, though.

Why am I obviously fat?

I havent taken my son to Applebee's in mnay months as the last two times we went, my son, wife and myself all felt pretty queezy afterward. When we did go, it was once in a while, and it was to reward our son for doing something good. We'd go out to eat, and I would say he could pick the place. It wasn't an every week thing.
I go onto a stainless steel Greek diner that he liked. But we stopped going there too for two reasons: it had a smoking section to close to the non smoking section. And after a couple of times there, we relalized it was filthy. Check out the booth areas of your average diner sometime...the kind with a small juke-box at the table. Im no Felix Unger, but we noticed that the surfaces around the table...the jukebox, the container holding the sugars and Splendas hadn't seen Lysol or a clean rag in God knows when......Yeeeeeech

Carol Powers

February 17, 2006 7:13 PM

Iagree with all the comments made. We unfortunately have the appetites of the cave man we came from, but don't do 1/4 of the work to survive.

Children will get junk food no matter what they eat at home.
Learn the basics of healthy eating and stick with it with treats often enough enough to satisfy.

No matter what we learn there will always be fatties and skinnies.


February 24, 2006 3:12 PM

I think this is the most ignorant story/comment piece I have ever read. This just goes to prove that our society is a mess. We are blaming restaurants for our childrens weight problem...But Mr. Kiley "REWARDS" His son for doing good by taking him out to eat. how does that teach a child any means of health? You don't reward with food, unless it is a dog or a cat. And if your son is heavy, it is not because he consumed macaroni and cheese as a child, it is simply because he is not as active as the caloric intake requires him to be. Do you understand a childs metabolism? It is not even close to yours, mine or the guy next to you. So how about you stop being so anal, let your kid be a kid,and if he wants to eat noodles covered in cheese...go for it! you and your wife felt "queezy" after your leaving, so you either a. overate, or b. ate something just as "un-healthy" as macaronie and cheese...even though they have an extensive low-fat, low-carb and even a weight watchers section on their menu. So it wasn't greens you ate to feel that way, it was the all you can eat ribs? or the alfredo?
You aren't setting an example, you are being completely anal.
If you feel a restaurant does not serve healthy foods, or clean their tables, or sweep the floors, ask for an application or start one yourself. Face it, nobody does things exactly as we would hope they do. And I will ask you this Mr. Kiley, do you put gloves on or carry antibacterial wipes with you to the grocery store before touching the kart? How about touching money?

Henny Berle

February 25, 2006 10:55 PM

Mr. Kiley is not fat. He's just short for his weight, He's supposed to be 9 foot 4..

(ha ha, David you asked for it..) :)


March 2, 2006 4:14 PM

Timmm....with wit like that....I think I'll pass on your copywriting services. Yeeesh.


December 18, 2007 8:46 AM

i like applebees but i guss i is not healthy


August 3, 2008 3:32 PM

Alright in all seriousness let's be a tad bid extreme. A child wanting a fat healthy treat is not a bad thing. In fact you should probably be happy that you're son can even normally digest this sugars, and eat that fatty food. I think it's kind of disgusting when we get to a point where we take our uneducation out on an Applebee's. First of all there are healthier options there. Second of all a bowl of mac n cheese from Applebees is not kill your child. It's actually healthy to maintain some fats in your diet, and all diet plans have at least a day of the week when the dieter gets to eat something healthy. My husband is a nutritionist. I have worked in a total of four gyms. There's no reason that your chlid should not be able to enjoy a little mac n cheese. I do.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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