KFC aims to lure kids with new Li'l Buckets

The chain is targeting 'thinking moms' with a healthier meal. However, the deal might not be as good as it seems.

By Aimee Picchi Apr 1, 2013 1:14PM

KFC Li'l Bucket meal (© KFC)KFC is trying to fix a pint-size problem.

After selling kids' meals in adult packaging last summer, the Yum Brands (YUM) chain saw dwindling sales of children's food, according to The Wall Street Journal.

KFC is hoping a small version of its family-style bucket, bearing the name Li'l Bucket and covered with a childish font and a drawing of a smiling bucket, will reverse the slump. Inside, kids will find a chicken drumstick, green beans, applesauce and a Capri Sun drink. 

But the kid-size bucket might find it tough going in today's fast-food market. That's because while it's marketed as a healthier option than McDonald's (MCD) Happy Meals and other kids' meals, some parents are skeptical of KFC's ingredients and motives.

KFC is calling the Li'l Bucket the "thinking mom's kids' meal," according to Nation's Restaurant News. (Just asking: Will unthinking dads still order a family-size bucket of crispy tenders for their kids?)

The basic offering includes 210 calories, 4 grams of fat and 565 milligrams of sodium, and costs $3.99.

Based on that, Li'l Bucket would be one of the few children's fast-food meals that meet the criteria for a healthy meal. The Center for Science in the Public Interest on Thursday issued a scathing report about fast-food kids' meals, finding that 97% of them flunk the group's basic nutrition criteria.

While the report didn't mention KFC, it came down hard on Denny's (DENN), Applebee's and Chili's for offering among the unhealthiest kids' meals in America. 

But the Li'l Bucket offers those 210 calories only when children order the basic meal. Kids can opt to skip the green beans in favor of calorie-laden mashed potatoes with gravy, for instance. 

If kids pick the mashed potatoes, a chicken sandwich and milk, the meal's calorie count will jump to 446 calories, according to nutritional information posted by KFC. 

"A thinking mom will know how easy it is to get ahold of the ingredients list for this kids meal. A thinking mom will read that ingredients list. A thinking mom will know that mashed potatoes and gravy will have more calories than green beans," one blogger at Mother Nature Network wrote

And even the green beans aren't as healthy as they seem: They include MSG, according to The Journal.

Aimee Picchi owns shares of Yum, but hasn't traded them in at least 12 months. Follow her on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

More on moneyNOW

Apr 1, 2013 2:02PM
If moms, thinking or otherwise, care about ensuring that their kids eat healthy, then they should frickin COOK for them!
Apr 1, 2013 3:06PM
I think it's an adoreable idea!  When the family wants to eat out/take out, they have a healthier option than burgers and fries.  Plus, my grandchildren have ADHD and need every calorie they can get!  Not all children are overweight in this country!  The bucket sounds cute too.  Maybe a cartoon inside, or jokes on the outside to make them more fun.  And the price is very reasonable.
Apr 1, 2013 4:00PM
I've seen the green beans.  They're fresh... from the Del Monte can.
Apr 1, 2013 4:00PM
With all the talk about healthy eating I highly recommend people start eating healthy at home instead of spending tons of money by going out to eat.  My son is already grown but we only went out to eat on special occasions and that was maybe 2-3 times a year.  If one chooses to go out to eat then one needs to stop complaining.  After all it is chose.
Apr 1, 2013 4:28PM
My kids are both world-class athletes.  Both went to college on athletic scholarships.  I often took them to KFC and McDonald's.  It's not what they eat.  It's the exercise they get.   
Apr 1, 2013 5:29PM

If parents would just give their brats a good kick in the a** and get them outside running, jumping playing there would be a lot less fat kids in the country. Unplug the TV, take an axe to the Xbox, burn the video games, yank their cell phones. DO SOMETHING! Why is it we all have to be lectured by Michelle Obama for YOUR fat kids.

Oh, one more thing, every month come the first or whatever day it falls on I've happened to be in my local supermarket shopping with mostly welfare and food stamp recipients. It's really easy to tell because they all have 3 or 4 buggy's full to the point of overflowing with junk food, frozen food (lots of pizza), cases of soda both regular and diet and canned food. If one were to go through the buggy you would be hard pressed to find a meal that could be home cooked much let alone fresh. Fresh fruit and veggie's? No where to be found. And people wonder why we have the federal government telling us what to eat. What do you expect. You live off the government and you have to abide by their rules. When BHO's health care kicks in we're all going to be under the microscope of the government bureaucracy. But hey, you idiots voted for him. FREE STUFF, FREE STUFF, FREE STUFF YAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Apr 1, 2013 2:29PM
what no toy from movie tie-in included? Kids aren't going to want it
Apr 1, 2013 4:10PM

Sounds like your twelve year old has a food allergy, because nobody else is swelling up for your twelve years old sake check it out

Apr 1, 2013 5:41PM

There are worse things to be had in the line of fast food.

Apr 1, 2013 5:17PM
This is the new stupid Americas craze now. Very little food for allot of money, plus you get all the crap packaging that comes along with your lousy meal. Wake up America, go to your local supermarket and buy an already cooked chicken there for the SAME PRICE!.
Apr 1, 2013 4:37PM
GREEN bucket???  I am sick and tired of businesses using green packaging, thinking we are dumb enough to think it means anything other than it's green ink.  Pffft ! 
Apr 1, 2013 6:28PM
No kid in the world wants green beans or applesauce at KFC or any other fast food restaurant.
Apr 1, 2013 4:50PM
Looks like mostly cardboard and plastic and very little food. Wake up stupid America. Take your hard earned cash elsewhere.
Apr 1, 2013 6:02PM
Oh, Oh..
The way they spell    Li'l  looks like some camel-banger scribbling.
Look out, the Li'l Is'lams will be on this like... a mu-slum on a camels butt. 

Apr 1, 2013 5:54PM
KFC gives my kids the hershey squirts...
Apr 1, 2013 5:52PM
KFC=MSG... In everything they serve. So salty my wife and I threw ours away 6-8 years ago when we had a nostalgic childhood hunger attack. Bleah! Read their ingredients. Yuck!
Apr 1, 2013 5:33PM
maybe if the restaurants were cleaner, the drive-thru lines not so long and slow and the employees were not all  teenagers too busy talking and texting on their phones, KFC would not need to do gimmics like this. The last time we went to KFC we went through the drive thru for the family meal and were told, "we are out of chicken." Yeah, well-run business. Never went back.
Apr 1, 2013 6:45PM
I'm glad to see KFC stepping outside the fast food advertising box by advertising this kiddie product to parents, rather than directly to children.  That's a huge step forward for KFC and the fast food industry in general and it shows that KFC may actually take its responsibility to provide healthy food to its consumers seriously.  Personally, I think it should be illegal to advertise food products directly to children (including TV adverts aimed at children, cross-branding with movie characters and enclosing toys in the package along with the food), and I hope the other fast food chains follow suit by introducing healthier kiddie options and advertising to parents instead of children. 
Apr 1, 2013 6:30PM
Hey kids!!!  Eat enough fried chicken and guess what you'll have?  That's right!  A BIG BUCKET!
Apr 1, 2013 4:32PM
What the government aka democrats do not understand is it is hard enough to get a kid to eat let alone healthy. The government needs to back off.
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