Okay. These photos and this creative kids food activity is from quite a while ago, 2012 in fact, but we recently came across the photos and had so much fun just looking at them and remembering the day, that I knew I wanted to share them with you.
It all started with a feature my daughter Natalie saw in an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine about how to make real looking food, like cheeseburgers and eggs and bacon, out of candy.
We poured through the magazine spreads and I promised we’d try it at home. I knew this would be a perfect, time-consuming activity that would keep the kids busy for hours on a workday — and that it’d be a project that they could do on their own with very little supervision! A total win!
Both of my children, my daughter especially, have always been interested in cooking and baking. Natalie loved helping with everything in the kitchen when she was younger, and now she’s cooking and baking on her own. Sometimes she even makes dinner now!
In the photo below, Natalie was 9 years old and Carter was 6 years old. Natalie adored her Chef’s hat and wore it at every opportunity and Carter has always been a ham. Check out the cheeseburger ingredients laid out in that photo too — they look pretty good!
For this kids food craft activity, we definitely had to do preparation and planning in advance. So the first thing we did is hit the candy section of Party City, where you can get single pieces of candy for as low as five cents and ten cents.
This was perfect for the Tootsie Rolls that became the burger patty, the Laffy Taffy that became the cheese, the Airheads that became the lettuce, and the gumdrops that became the tomatoes. We also snagged the citrus shaped candies to add a lemon garnish on the glasses.
Really, we grabbed a few pieces of A LOT of different candies, because we weren’t quite sure which candies would work the best, be easiest for the kids to use, or be just the right color.
Working at home and being booked solid is constantly a juggling act with all my mom duties. While school helps, those days when there is no school or there are minimum days for an entire week can be a challenge — especially if you’re doing a lot of sales calls and video calls with clients.
I told all of my friends about this fun kid-friendly food activity because they did it almost completely by themselves, and it not only kept them busy for hours, but it kept them quiet because they ate a lot of the ingredients and the finished products too!
The first step to prepare for this project was to bake the sugar cookie dough that eventually became the french fries. The kids measured and added all of the ingredients and mixed the dough, then I separated the dough into two balls and put them in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
While the sugar cookie dough was chilling, the kids moved on to making the cupcakes that became the cheeseburger buns. We used a basic yellow cake mix, prepared it according to the box instructions, and let them cool completely.
The kids measured and added all the ingredients and blended the batter. While I filled the cupcake pan and put it in the oven, the kids moved on to unwrapping all of the candy — and eating it too!
By the time the candy was unwrapped, the sugar cookie dough was ready to roll out. I rolled the dough out in long narrow strips and the kids used the crinkle cutter to cut the dough into french fry sized strips and added sugar sprinkles. I transferred the french fry cookies to cookie sheets and popped them into the oven, and the kids moved on to making the condiments and burger toppings.
Really hard or old candy isn’t going to work great for this project. The candy needs to be fresh and soft so it is malleable enough for little hands to manipulate, squish, flatten, and shape. Making the lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, burger patties, mustard, and ketchup takes a LONG TIME for kids to do (yes!) because it has to warm up and get soft in their hands.
To warm up his candies faster, Carter thought it was super funny to put them in a Ziplock and sit on them, while Natalie just held them in her hands and let her body heat do the work. We did this in the winter, but I’m thinking that this would be an excellent summer activity to do outside because the heat would make the candies softer.
- The ketchup and mustard are each made with one half of a can of white frosting and red and yellow food coloring.
- The cheese is made of Laffy Taffy. (We tried Starbursts too, but it was just too yellow).
- The lettuce is made of Airheads candy. (We tried other candies, but this was the best green.)
- The tomatoes are made from flattened red gumdrops. (We tried other candies, but liked the translucency of the gumdrops best.)
- The burger patty is made of Tootsie Rolls smashed and shaped into a circle.
Once all of the ingredients were made, we cut the cupcakes in half to make the buns, assembled our cheeseburgers, and plated our meals. Looks pretty yummy right?! Natalie and Carter were so proud of their creations. They ate almost all of it, even taking a bite out of the whole cheeseburger — which is totally gross, but hey, they’re kids.
Now even though the cheeseburger and fries were made and done, the kids didn’t want to be done.
They wanted to make more realistic looking meals made from candy! So they opened another container of frosting, and used the leftover red and yellow candy (Starbursts) and cupcakes to make a delicious candy breakfast of bacon and eggs — that they quickly ate.
If you work at home and need a project to keep your kiddos busy for an entire afternoon, you should definitely try this fun and yummy activity.
Meals Made Of Candy
This is a fun and yummy activity for kids, and because they can eat their cheeseburger, fries, eggs, and bacon, it keeps them quiet too!
- 1 box yellow cake mix, prepared as cupcakes
- Sugar cookie dough to roll out
- Yellow Laffy Taffy candies
- Red gum drops
- Mini Tootsie Rolls candies
- Green Airheads candies
- Red and yellow Starbursts
- 1 large container white frosting
- Red and yellow food coloring
- White or yellow sugar sprinkles
- Prepare cupcakes according to the instructions on the box. Grease/butter cupcake pan (do not use baking cups). Let cool completely.
- Prepare your favorite roll out sugar cookie dough recipe (or buy slice and bake sugar cookie dough, it can be rolled out too). Roll out dough, slice into french fry sized strips, use crinkle cutter to make crinkle cut fries. Top with sugar sprinkles.
- Separate white frosting into thirds. Mix 1/3 with red food coloring to make the ketchup. Mix 1/3 with yellow food coloring to make the mustard. Set aside 1/3 to use when making the eggs.
- Unwrap all candy. Knead the tootsie rolls until warm and shape into burger patties. Knead and flatten the Laffy Taffy with a rolling pin, and slice into a square to make the cheese. Smash and shape the Airheads into a rough circular shape to make the lettuce. Squish the gumdrops between your fingers to make the tomatoes.
- Cut cupcakes in half to make the cheeseburger buns and assemble your cheeseburgers, adding the ketchup, mustard, patty, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes. Plate your meal with dipping condiments and french fries.
- Use additional cupcake halves as a bread base for the eggs. Frost with white frosting to simulate the eggwhites. Smash yellow Starbursts and shape into a circle for the yolk. Flatten with a rolling pin red and yellow Starbursts (or red and yellow Laffy Taffy), cut into strips, and press together to make the bacon. Plate up your eggs and bacon and serve breakfast.
We found that the meat tenderizer helped flatten some of the candies once warm, so they were easier to roll out. Resist the urge to put the candies in the microwave to soften them up more — they become nuclear hot very quickly and may burn your kids' hands.