Hat-trick Designs Party Recipes To Help Tubby Kids Slim Down

U.K. firm tackles the food pyramid’s weak link: birthday parties.



It’s hard enough to get kids to eat healthfully at dinner or during school lunch. But try telling the little darlings that they’re going to get cucumbers and whole wheat bread instead of ice cream and cake at their birthday party and you’ll likely risk a rebellion that would put post-Stanley Cup Vancouver to shame.

Still, you have to give props to an organization for trying. Just as the U.S. recently unveiled its new food-groups based Dinner Plate (which replaced the discredited old Food Pyramid), the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is rolling out a “Party Pack” of recipes, paper goods, and games for kids designed to get the little buggers to lay off the sugary snacks and enjoy a carrot.

To make the whole exercise more fun (or perhaps to try and disguise the fact that it’s cherry tomatoes they’re eating, not maraschino cherries), the BHF asked the Design Indaba-headliners at Hat-trick Design to take a crack at the challenge. “Some incredible statistics set this project off,” says Jim Sutherland, Hat-trick’s cofounder. “Around one in five children in England (22.8%) are overweight or obese the year they start school. In 5-year-olds, 82% of boys and 86.3% of girls don’t get their five-a-day in terms of fruit and vegetables. And a third of children get less than the recommended amount of physical activity each week (32%).” Sound familiar?

The BHF found that many parents would like to get the kids to eat better, but they’re really stuck when it comes to putting on a party. Stressed for time, and clueless on how they can substitute the healthy stuff for the usual goodies without provoking a tantrum, they fall back on the HFSS (High Fat Salt Sugar) foods and sedentary activities that are the norm.

To help them out, the BHF hired recipe writer Lizzie Harris to come up with party food ideas with an animal-themed twist including: carrot cakes that look like rabbits, sandwiches styled as chickens and buffaloes and a lion made out of tortilla chips. Writer Nick Asbury gave them playful names such as “bunny buns,” the “cluck cluck club,” and “safari snacks” before photographer John Ross shot them all on paper plates, complete with crumbs and splats, to make everything look achievable and homemade. Hat-trick also designed items for the party itself, including invitations, placemats, and stickers, which can be used to decorate everything from goody bags to pieces of fruit. Nothing like putting a pair of googly eyes on an orange to make it taste like a cupcake! “Hat-trick’s playful and colorful design allows us to get our serious messages about healthy eating out in a fun and interactive way,” Debbie Allen, who leads the BHF’s work with children and young people.

Good luck with that!


About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.