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American Food And Kids - Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cheeseburgers

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Though it can be difficult for some people to identify “American” food, since it’s usually a combination of cuisines originating from other countries, there is no doubt that cheeseburgers and chocolate chip cookies are quintessentially American. Not only that, but these American delights tend to be a favorite among kids everywhere—and the back stories behind these dishes are yummy as well!

Cheeseburger, Please!

Though the hamburger actually originated in Hamburg, Germany, the cheeseburger was “invented” by an American teenager. In 1924, Lionel Sternberger put a slice of American cheese on a hamburger being prepared at his father’s sandwich shop, the Rite Spot, in Pasadena, California. Both father and son liked it, and this is considered the birth of the cheeseburger.

Cheeseburgers (and hamburgers) are consistently rated the number one American food. They are the foundation of the fast food industry and a staple in nearly every American restaurant. In fact, many upscale eateries offer artisan or gourmet cheeseburgers, offering a range of ingredients and toppings including lamb, fried eggs, Gruyere, truffle aioli, foie gras, and even tuna.

Healthier Options

Naturally, most kids prefer a basic cheeseburger—even though it may not be the healthiest option at mealtime. Parents may, understandably, have concerns about their children consuming beef, in particular. Thankfully, there are other options available in restaurants and to make at home that taste delicious as hamburger substitutes:

  • Ground turkey
  • Ground chicken
  • Chicken breast
  • Plant-based protein (veggie burger)
  • Portobello mushroom

Parents can also encourage their kids to make or order their cheeseburgers with healthier options such as whole wheat buns, lettuce, tomatoes, lower fat cheese, and a side of veggies rather than French fries. Of course, it’s also fine for kids (and their parents) to embrace the comfort, juicy mess, and tastiness of American cheeseburgers, with all the fixings, as an occasional indulgence as well!

Chocolate Chip Connections

Chocolate chip cookies have many interesting connections with American traditions and culture. They were created by Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House restaurant in the late 1930s. The recipe became so popular and widespread that Nestle purchased the rights to it and Toll House name in 1939.

These cookies were associated with comfort after the Great Depression, and they became intertwined with a sense of home as they were packaged and sent to American soldiers fighting overseas in World War II. For decades, chocolate chip cookies were marketed as a symbol of wholesome American families, and especially the loving mothers and wives at home baking and caring for the household.

Thankfully, this perception has evolved. Yet there is still a connection between this dessert and the American family. One way to embrace the American tradition of chocolate chip cookies is to set aside a time for baking that involves the whole family. You can do this during the holidays, monthly, or as often as you wish, and even the youngest family member can participate. Perhaps you have a cookie recipe that has been passed down or shared; if not, you can find the original Toll House recipe on the bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips.

Cookies and Chemistry

Many culinary experts describe baking as both an art and a science. This is absolutely true, and though you and your family may not see your kitchen as a laboratory, baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies is essentially an experience in chemistry.

Unlike other types of cooking, baking requires precision when gathering, measuring, and combining ingredients. This is an excellent opportunity for children to get a sense of volume in terms of measuring cups and teaspoons/tablespoons, and baking recipes are a great way to reinforce fractions as well. You and your children can research the importance of baking soda or powder as it reacts with the cookie batter, as well as the roles of other ingredients that provide flavoring, stability, and structure during the baking process.

Here are some other ideas for “experimenting” with chocolate chip cookie chemistry:

  • Vary the size and shape of the cookie dough before baking
  • Bake the batter in a pan rather than as individual cookies
  • Add chopped nuts (if there is no allergy risk) to change texture
  • Find a recipe that substitutes dried oats for some of the flour
  • Use different types of “chips” (dark chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.)
  • Turn on the indoor oven light to watch the dough bake

No matter whether you experiment with a chocolate chip cookie recipe or go strictly by the cookbook, the end result will be educational, fun, and a tasty treat for the family.

Food can be a wonderful way for kids to connect with different people and cultures. Cooking and baking appeals to all five senses, and can become a lifelong passion and learning experience. Our mission at Cognisprings is to design and sell toys that also encourage lifelong learning. Our food puzzle, for example, allows children to identify colors, shapes, sizes, healthy food groups, and even ingredients they recognize from their own kitchens.

Cognisprings is dedicated to creating educational, sustainable, safe, and fun toys that encourage children to explore the world away from digital screens. Children are naturally curious, and their cognitive, emotional, and physical development are enhanced through playing games and solving puzzles. In addition, our products encourage family togetherness to build a brighter future for our kids and the environment in which they will grow.