Panera Revamps Kids’ Menu To Remove Additives, Sweeteners, Soda

Image courtesy of Ryan

What should children eat when the family is out dining at a quick-serve establishment? In the latest front in the kids’ meal wars, Panera has announced a change to its menu for sandwich-lovers in training. The company plans to remove additives and extra sweeteners from its menu for children, and taunted its competitors, many of which are still serving up fries and soda.

Instead of using cartoon characters and toys as lures, Panera’s new campaign flips that around and makes not using characters and toys to market to children. The company is marketing this new menu based on what Panera isn’t including in kids’ meals: artificial preservatives and other additives, sugar-filled soft drinks, and toys.

The menu continues Panera’s “clean” food marketing, which promises “No artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or colors from artificial sources.”

One important part of the new Kids Meal Promise that removes what’s normally an important part of fast-food meals and a key profit center for restaurants is that the default for children will be to serve meals with water. Organic milk or juice are an add-on option, and actively the company says that it will discourage children from getting soda with their meals.

Naturally, the company is already taunting competitors with these policies that it hasn’t actually implemented yet, notably calling out McDonald’s for promising to remove artificial preservatives from its McNuggets, a popular Happy Meal option.

At the same time, a company with a soda fountain and a pastry case shouldn’t look down at the “health” options of its competitors, and calling out other brands that include French fries in their kids’ meals is unfair when Panera doesn’t even serve fries.

The real first fast-food health hero will be the first company to banish soda fountains from its restaurants, but xt

Panera ad campaign challenges rivals to offer healthier foods for kids [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Panera Revamps Kids Menu While Blasting Peers’ ‘Egregious’ Meals [Bloomberg]