Familiarity trumps playfulness: Exploring children’s preferences for playful design of vegetables

Sunmin May Hwang, Sarah Alfalah, Jieun Misa Kwon, Barry Kudrowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vegetable-based food and drink products are becoming more popular in the United States with increased awareness of health benefits as well as their positive environmental impact. Yet, there is a lack of attention in marketing these healthy vegetable food products to children, particularly in comparison to less-nutritious food products that are effectively utilizing child-oriented design in the marketplace. This article includes four exploratory studies. The first three studies are part of a co-design process involving children and chefs to create playful vegetable products that appeal to children. These studies result in a variety of playful vegetables concepts which are then evaluated in different methods by children. The prelimi-nary results of these studies indicate that children do not prefer playful versions of vegetables significantly more than familiar versions. The final study presented in this article specifically examines the role of familiarity and colour on a child’s preference towards select vegetable products. Contrary to expectations, a trend uncovered in all four studies demonstrate children’s inclination towards the more familiar versions of a vegetable, illustrating a need for more appropriate design interventions to effectively bring about positive changes in children’s food choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-64
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Food Design
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements are made to the following organization, Healthy Foods Healthy Lives Institute, for the grant awarded to our studies; Minnesota-based chef Diane Yang, chef Steven Brown for their support to the project; restaurant Tilia for allowing us to prepare and serve our vegetable preparations. We would also like to thank Risen Christ School for allowing us to test vegetable ideas with their students; Michael Silvestrini, Evelina Knodel, Maria Brosofske-Wires, Professor Zata Vickers and Professor Marla Reicks for their guidance and assistance with the earlier case studies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Intellect Ltd Article. English language.


  • Children's food choice
  • Co-design
  • Colour
  • Design for children
  • Design for play
  • Familiarity
  • Food design
  • vegetable consumption


Dive into the research topics of 'Familiarity trumps playfulness: Exploring children’s preferences for playful design of vegetables'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this