Taco Bell says adios to kids' meals

The fast-food chain says it's focusing on millennials, but nutritionists had targeted the children's offerings as unhealthy.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 23, 2013 10:14AM

Taco Bell restaurant in Richmond, Virginia (© Steve Helber/AP Photo)The days of buying kids' meals at Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell are numbered.

The fast-food chain plans to stop selling the kiddie meals in January 2014, in a move USA Today says will "shock the fast-food industry."

Taco Bell is the first national chain to entirely drop its line of children's offerings, which nutritionists frequently single out as failing to provide healthy, balanced meals. Taco Bell is also dropping toys, one way fast-food restaurants including McDonald's (MCD) attract families.

Critics complain that including toys in kids' meals entices families to overlook the often calorie-laden foods. In 2011, San Francisco banned fast-food restaurants from including toys in their kids' meals unless the food meets nutritional standards, such as having fewer than 600 calories. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocate for health issues, applauded Taco Bell's decision as a "constructive step forward by no longer using toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to that restaurant." It added that more than 90% of kids' meals fail to meet industry nutrition standards. 

But Taco Bell chief executive Greg Creed told USA Today the reason for eliminating kids' meals boils down to focusing on the company's core audience: people in their late teens to mid-20s.

"This is about positioning the brand for Millennials," he told the publication. "The future of Taco Bell is not about kids meals."

Taco Bell is much less reliant on kids' meals than rival McDonald's. Only about 0.5% of Taco Bell's sales stem from them, while Mickey D's looks to its Happy Meals to provide 10% of sales, Advertising Age notes. 

For the Mexican-themed restaurant, the bottom line is that kids' meals weren't providing enough moolah or coolness to "live mas." Taco Bell's Creed added: "It's fairly inconsistent for an edgy, twentysomething brand to offer kids meals."

Aimee Picchi owns shares in Yum and hasn't traded the stock in at least 12 months. Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Jul 23, 2013 11:52AM

Taco Bell just realized their market is drunk and stoned college kids. 


That is why they are "Open Late".

Jul 23, 2013 5:44PM
Jul 23, 2013 5:23PM
[Critics complain that including toys in kids' meals entices families to overlook the often calorie-laden foods. In 2011, San Francisco  from including toys in their kids' meals unless the food meets nutritional standards, such as having fewer than 600 calories]. 

So really, how many children get 600 or less calorie meals at home?
Jul 23, 2013 1:08PM
Thought only drunk college kids went to "The Bell".
Jul 23, 2013 4:35PM
Fat Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life. Well taco bell is depending on that very thing
Jul 23, 2013 5:20PM
Didn't know they had one personally. Every time I go in there I have to hunt for my favorite item which has been clogged up with unhealthy starches (bread, potato) loaded with minimal Protein,( aka mystery meat), and very little true Mexican food. And then you have to deal with dirty tables and floors and this gosh awful TV garbage that nobody really pays any attention to with the most recent untalented screaming women with the same three phrases she calls lyrics over and over and over and over...Same with out local KFC's dirty, dirty, dirty, and you pay more for that Boneless Chicken about 25 cents a piece which only costs about 2 cents to debone so your being robbed as usual...I hear a west Coast Taco place is coming to our area..I am so crossing my fingers..
Jul 24, 2013 2:23AM
I forgot they even had kids meals.  Then again, I dont have kids.  Taco Bell is the only fast food in my area that can be made vegan, and for that, they rock.
Jul 23, 2013 4:59PM
Taco Smell sucks...what a ripoff. If you want good Mexican Food find a well run family operation that has earned a good reputation and stop giving your hard earned money to this company for the crap they dish out.
Jul 23, 2013 7:13PM
I always thought that Taco Bell was a Mexican phone company! I rapidly grew tired of their dog meat stuffing many years ago.
Jul 23, 2013 4:21PM
Taco Bell is an "edgy" twentysomething brand?
More like an "obese" something brand if you ask me.
Jul 23, 2013 11:46AM

Grossest food ever!!!  Don't eat there or take your kids!

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