I firmly believe that in order to be a proper caregiver, it's important to fully understand what your dependents are eating. When I got a puppy, I felt it was my duty to taste the snacks my best friend most enjoyed. Now, with my lovely wife expecting our firstborn, it became my mission to get a fatherly grasp on what would provide my progeny with nutrition.
Bravely, I made haste to the grocery store and grabbed a random sampling of common baby and toddler foods. Which is a more eloquent way of saying I got some standard purees and formulas, then looked for unappealing combinations of ground-up meats, veggies, and other mystery ingredients. I started with infant formula, then progressed through the smorgasbord based on the intended age of consumption. Here they are, rated on a scale of 1-10, 1 indicating that it tastes like something found in a diaper, 10 being something I'd totally eat again. There weren't any 10s.
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You know what this tastes like? A gross version of the almond milk my wife always tries to convince me is the same as real milk, which it's not. Do you ever dunk cookies in almond milk? It's like dunking them in water. Also, why does my mouth taste drier than it did before I put this liquid in my mouth? Is this why babies are always drinking? Rating: 6
Fun fact: my sister told me she used to eat pureed plum baby food in high school (my brother says she still does). She says they're delicious. But she also really likes Dave Matthews, so it's dubious. These are perfection... if you enjoy the taste of pre-chewed raisins. Rating: 5
Other Fruits and Vegetables
Unsurprisingly, the other fruits and veggies taste like what they are. The carrots taste like carrots. The apples taste like applesauce. The snozberries taste like snozberries. You're not reading this to watch a grown man eat apple sauce. Moving on. Rating: 7
I'm pretty weirded out that the Chicken & Vegetable flavor looks like mustard, but hey, I like mustard. But this doesn't taste like mustard. It tastes like watered-down day-old gravy, and it's pretty damn gross.
I'm even more weirded out that the Chicken & Rice is a completely different color. It's brown. But even more alarming? It's all grainy. And it's sweet. It tastes like somebody took a can of Campbell's low-sodium chicken soup and, when it came time to put in the can of water, dumped in some apple juice instead. Hello, dry heaves! I was wondering when you were coming to the party. Rating: 2
First, unless the vegetable is bacon, vegetables don't belong in mac & cheese. Second, I'm pretty sure this is just Tostitos cheddar dip that somebody forgot to put the cheese flavoring in. Well, probably not, because it's for babies. Still, if this was the first taste of mac & cheese that my child got, I'm pretty sure I'd never forgive myself for being a failure as a father. Rating: 1
Ham with Ham Gravy
When I popped this jar open, I got a heavy whiff that reminded me of Spam. Which is awesome, because I actually like Spam. So I put a huge scoop of this in my mouth and... MOTHER OF GOD! It's like somebody used hot ham water to make some sort of papier-mâché paste, then put it in a jar. And it's sticking to the roof of my mouth. Ye gods! The terrible taste of this ham goop and the glorious scent of Spam are jockeying for my sensory attention. I think I'm going to pass out. Time for a palate cleanser. Rating: -37
That's more like it. Pedialyte tastes like a cross between Gatorade and Dimetapp, which leads me to believe that all electrolytes taste the same. It's thick and slightly sweet and it's making me feel a lot better about my life choices. Also, I hear it's great for hangovers. This is the stuff! Rating: 8
Apple Raisin Quinoa Squeeze Pack
It's like Go-Gurt, except grainier from the quinoa. At least I think it's the quinoa. I'm still not entirely sure what quinoa really is, to be honest. I think all this food is making me dumber. Maybe this tastes like a non-dairy yogurt substitute. I'm not sure about that either. It's been a while since I've had any yogurt that didn't have a pound of gummy worms and peanut butter cups inside. Rating: 6
Now we're getting to the good stuff: teething foods! Holler at a rice rusk! These ones are called Baby Mum-Mum, because babies like stupid noises, I think. And they're banana-flavored. They taste like rice cakes, which makes me feel like I'm being healthy. I could gum the sh*t out of these things for days. But... maybe not these ones, because I just noticed the brand is Hot Kid, and the logo is a little cartoon kid with no shirt on. This disturbs me to the point that I can't stomach any more Mum-Mum. Well, maybe one more... Rating: 7
First of all, I've been listening to Lil' Crunchies since way before he signed to Roc Nation. Also, these are basically Cheetos! For babies! And they're baby-sized! Hell yes. They're pretty light on the flavor front, because nobody wants to jack baby's sodium level up too high. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't eat the whole goddamned package, and then chase them with more Pedialyte. Because nothing goes with Cheetos quite like an infusion of electrolytes. Rating: 9
Pasta Stars with Chicken & Vegetables
Now we're in toddler territory, and everybody knows that toddlers like... um, dog food? Because that's what this smells like. But look at all those chunks of chicken and veggies! And who doesn't like gravy and stars? Actually... surprisingly, this tastes better than it smells. Add some salt and pepper, and baby you've got a stew going. Dinty Moore stew, more specifically, and that's a good thing! (Did I just have an epiphany about my love of Hormel?!) Rating: 5
It's like somebody took a bunch of ground chicken, dried it out, rolled it in sand, and put it in a casing. Even weirder, they come in a little jar full of preserving liquid that looks like one of those jars you see in sci-fi flicks with heads floating in them. Unlike the Pasta Stars, these actually smell AND look like dog food. I wonder if the dog would eat it... Rating: 3
... yup. He's into it. He ate four, and then laid down for an hour. To be fair, he also likes the cat box. I'm not sure whether babies enjoy cat boxes, but I'm starting to see a pattern here. Bonus dog rating: 10, putting it on par with litter and whatever is in the garbage when I leave the house, which today includes these baby hot dogs. Nicely done, Kuma.
It pains me to say it, but... babies are stupid. They can't talk. They can't drive. And they have terrible taste. They'll eat anything we give them. No wonder they require so many diapers. But for reals, I'm going to go get more of those Cheetos.
Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist's National Food and Drink team. He plans to feed his baby nothing but Beef 'n Cheddars tossed in a Vitamix. Follow him to surprise visits from Child Services via @apkryza.