On 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Your Local Kid-Themed Restaurants

Themed restaurants aimed specifically at children have become a staple of the culinary landscape in America. Pizza, burger and falafel joints offering everything from skee-ball to indoor skydiving have become extremely popular in the past 20-plus years. As a dad, I’ve spent my share of time in these lively places and they have certainly left a lasting impression on me and my family. Maybe it’s the incessant ringing in my ears talking, but here are a handful of things you probably didn’t know about these diners-o-fun.

5. More NFL quarterbacks are discovered and recruited from children’s pizza eateries than all American college conferences and Canadian football leagues combined. Nothing else explains the hordes of middle-aged men pumping tokens into the 2-Minute Drill football game. Their faces intent. Their furrowed brows beaded with sweat despite the quite comfortable, conditioned 68 degrees. Their tongues sticking through the sides of their clenched mouths as they fade back to pass, side-stepping the frozen tundra that is the ice-cream machine, stumbling over skee-ball-rolling women, frolicking children and lesser, salad-carrying men, weaving ever back to release their wounded-duck spirals in earnest anticipation that the child-sized ball will float through the slightly-larger-than-child-sized opening marked “50 Yards”, propelling their digital team to gridiron glory! USA, USA, USA!!

4. The price-per-ounce of corn syrup in arcade pizzerias is higher than any other liquid commodity in the history of the universe, including melted gold and Sasquatch tears. Informal research shows that it costs an average of $1,455 to win enough prize tickets to purchase a single banana taffy. Drug cartels have taken notice and are currently making high-level plans to open a chain of Chuck E. Cheese’s along the border.

3. The mascots of kid-themed restaurants are required by a backroom agreement to be disturbing in some way. Whether it be a large, musically talented rat, a dancing squirrel or an overly-enthusiastic clown, these eateries have embraced the age-old truism that there is nothing people like to look at more while they are eating than vermin and deranged circus performers.

2. All food served in kid-themed restaurants is required by law to include a secret preservative found by the government in a spacecraft which crashed in the Mohave Desert in the 1950’s. This alien chemical, determined to be close in composition to Apache helicopter fuel, acts to preserve food indefinitely, while being technically un-digestible. In a recently-published field test, a corn dog from Uncle Wally’s Fun Factory was buried in a Honduran rain forest in 1987. In 2013, the corn dog was exhumed and scientists determined that, while the stick had disintegrated long ago, the breaded frank was still as “edible” as the day it was “made”.

1. It all started in Paris. It is believed that these ubiquitous eateries owe their existence to the restaurant scene of Paris, France, in the 1920’s. It was then and there that an ambitious culinary school drop-out named Pierre le Fromage had a vision for a restaurant where children had unfettered access and control of the dining experience. Named “Le Restaurant des Enfants Sauvages” (which roughly translates to something about crazy babies?), this eatery was established around a simple operating procedure: upon entering the establishment, children were given raw cane sugar and allowed free reign of the facilities. Parents were subsequently relieved of all their cash and jewelry, repeatedly slapped in the gut with week-old baguettes by large men wearing chef hats, and forced to listen to show tunes, all while restaurant staff flushed their cash and jewelry down the toilet. When asked why he kept coming back, one Parisian man, who had brought his daughter to the restaurant every year for 6 years, exclaimed to a Vanity Fair reporter, while clenching his bruised ribs with one hand and an empty wallet with the other, “Why, it is my duty as a father, non? Shall I deny my child such simple pleasures?! C’est Impossible!… Owww!… Oh!… {unintelligible sounds and whimpering}.”

So, please enjoy and support your local kid-themed restaurant, especially (ok, only) if you have kids. These places have a rich history, a pretty definite present and probably a future.

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