Edible Dollhouse Foods Take Miniaturization To Foolish New Levels : The Salt Food producers are thinking big by going itty-bitty with tiny fruits and vegetables that aim to tempt young palates. Doll-sized burgers and sweets also offer dieters the ultimate in portion control.
NPR logo Edible Dollhouse Foods Take Miniaturization To Foolish New Levels

Edible Dollhouse Foods Take Miniaturization To Foolish New Levels

The launch of Mighty Mini Meals has been so successful that other food manufacturers are now rolling out doll-scale packaged foods, like this tiny hamburger. iStockphoto hide caption

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The launch of Mighty Mini Meals has been so successful that other food manufacturers are now rolling out doll-scale packaged foods, like this tiny hamburger.

iStockphoto

If you prefer your vegetables on the dainty side, perhaps you go for the baby squash and eggplant. But if a petite zucchini feels oafish sometimes, listen up. Growers have now developed doll-sized hybrids of peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers and other fruits that taste extra-sweet and delicious.

In a bid to try to get kids to eat healthful foods, this exquisitely formed produce is being packaged in tiny crate and baskets, complete with serving ideas, to take home to feed to dolls, teddy bears, action figures and – hopefully — human playmates.

"Research has shown that foods with play value can make them more appealing to kids. That's really what helped make packaged foods like Lunchables so popular with school kids. So we thought, why not take that idea and apply it to healthy snacks?" says April Chiste, who founded Mighty Mini Meals, the California grower behind the temptingly tiny fruits and vegetables. Many of its offerings are smaller than a penny.

The launch has been so successful that other food manufacturers are now rolling out doll-scale packaged foods. Think teeny-tiny packs of instant oatmeal, with scaled down flakes of rolled oats, tiny protein bars and meatballs the size of couscous.

One health and lifestyle brand, Think Big, Eat Small, is even putting out itty-bitty trays of "diet cheat" foods like burgers, doughnuts and cupcakes — including gluten-free options. As the company's website puts it, "It's the ultimate in portion control."

And doll-sized portions may be coming to a restaurant near you. As The New York Times reports this week, what began with tapas has now become a veritable takeover of small plates in the restaurant world.

Part of the appeal of small plates has long been the ability to create inventive eating experiences — why limit yourself to an appetizer and main course when you can sample a half-dozen different dishes?

The next step in this trend? Not just small plates but tiny ones — featuring tempting foods served in shrunken portions that enforce strict portion control.

Call them tapitas.