Pizza toppings best or most popular with children?

I promised to make pizza with and for a boy about 8, the child of friends.
He's a very selective eater.
So far, the dough and pepperoni are ok. No veg, no pineapple, tomato sauce iffy.
What toppings, in your experience are popular with young and/or picky eaters?

  • Posted by: Nancy
  • August 30, 2022


Nancy August 30, 2022
To Gammy. MMH and 702551…responding to your end-of-day discussion.
Appreciate your memories, insights, suggestions.
Am going ahead with both a limited list of ingredients bought for this pizza, and a few from my regular pantry.
Hope that yes, especially per Gammy’s recommendation, having him decorating the pizza and taste-testing some ingredients will spark his interest.
The pizza meal now scheduled for later this week.
Will report back.
Nancy September 2, 2022
I didn't get my young friend involved in making the dough (feared he might be turned off by the strange activity of the yeast).
But yes he helped shaped the crust, decided on toppings and placed them, and monitored the baking.
I think all these activities contributed to him liking the pizza and he even had seconds! :)
But alas, no vegetables.
In doing my prep, I found two helpful web sites:
* one by a mom with fussy eater children (good recipes and tips)
* one about why and how children's taste buds differ from those of adults's%20taste%20buds,receptive%20to%20their%20mother's%20milk.
Thanks again everyone for your tips and advice,

702551 September 2, 2022
Shame the opportunity to help him learn some science wasn't taken here let alone where food comes from. Introduction to biology happens in elementary school so his teachers will cover it at some point, either in class instruction or during a field trip.

With the pandemic, more now than ever is it important for younger people everywhere to start to familiarize themselves with the notion of microorganisms and their impact on human life. Like pretty much every kid in an industrialized country, he's probably had his nostrils swapped in the past couple of years at least once.

Anyhow, are you going to tell us what this particular kid actually ate?
Gammy September 2, 2022
Congratulations, sounds like the evening was a success! Maybe next time, and I am betting he will ask you to do another "pizza night" with him, next time, he will expand the variety of toppings he is willing to try! Thanks for letting us know how it went.
Nancy September 2, 2022
Just what he wanted in the beginning - crust, cheese. Pepperoni - despite offers of (simple) tomato sauce, vegetables and fresh basil.
You made good points about kids needing to learn about microorganisms- thanks (for next time).
702551 September 2, 2022
Thank you for circling back and providing the answer to your original question.

Many people these days ask for help and never come back to say what worked. This is not specific criticism toward F52 Hotline participants or food sites in general, it happens pretty much everywhere online these days. It didn't use to be like that.

Coming back and saying what worked/didn't work gives other readers some knowledge. A lot of people only just take, take, take and never give anything back to the community. Appalling.

The biggest loss about not taking the opportunity to learn some science is that it would have given him a different perspective on it in the form of a (hopefully) fun hands-on interactive experience rather than the teacher droning on and on in front of some projected webpage or microscope photo of a Petri dish. Labs, projects and field trips were always more fun for me than lectures when I was in school. That was a long time ago and I don't know what school districts do these days to enrich book learning.

Anyhow, this kid appears to be your garden variety vegetable hater. He likes meat (pepperoni), cheese, and carbs (pizza dough), hates veggies. That actually puts him in a very, very large group of similar minded Americans so despite his fussiness, he's actually quite typical in that sense.

I hope the two of you enjoyed your kitchen experience together.
Gammy August 30, 2022
I see you are planning to make this pizza WITH this young man. Allowing him to decorate HIS portion of the pizza will go a long way towards his acceptance of the finished pizza. I do love the others' thoughts on blitzing the pizza sauce to smooth out the texture and planning more generic/bland toppings. Don't discount asking him to try a pizza seasoning (from his hand) to see if he might not enjoy that flavoring, too. Oh, and ask his parents if he likes bacon... many kids do.
MMH August 30, 2022
This is so true. It doesnt matter how it looks in the end because he made it. Giving him that control will make him love it all the more.
702551 August 30, 2022
Sure, the boy will likely love the pizza more if he gets to help out.

The problem here is that Nancy needs to identify what those items he'll eat are. It's not practical for her to just buy a bunch of random items with the hope that he'll like a few. If he were an open-minded eater, that would be far easier since some of the stuff he might like might already be in her fridge or pantry.

At his house, his parents have stocked their fridge and pantry with stuff he'll swallow. That's not the case if he's at Nancy's place.

That's why the wisest course of action would be for her to ask the people who are the most familiar with his food preferences: his parents.

Trying to blindly guess what he'll eat makes zero sense.

Sure, a cook at a summer camp or school cafeteria needs to understand kids' general food preferences because they're serving a large audience with different taste buds. No one can please everyone all the time; institutional cooks understand and accept this.

Nancy's situation is very different: she just needs to satisfy ONE KID in a one-off event.
702551 August 30, 2022
Just thinking about it reminds me of the days when I dogsat for family members. They would tell me what their pets ate and often they stocked up on items so I wouldn't have to guess.

This is a very similar situation.

I didn't need to know what dogs in general like to eat. I needed to know what THAT SPECIFIC dog will eat.

Nancy really needs to ask his parents if she wants a high chance of success. It's easy enough to send a quick text and his parents won't be scratching their heads for hours over the inquiry.
Lori T. August 30, 2022
When my kids were of similar age and tastes- I sort of "cheated" with the pizza sauce. I used a veggie loaded commercially made ragu type sauce, and blitzed it in a processor to remove any evidence of the presence of objectionable items. The main objection to pizza sauce was usually due to "spices", although that did not carry over to spaghetti sauce for some reason. I could get away with black olives, ham/canadian bacon, bacon, italian sausage, mozarella, parmesan, "Italian blend" cheese, and cheddar. I also learned to make a sort of chicken alfredo using jar sauce, cooked chicken, and mozzarella which pleased them as well. There was also a "cheeseburger" version, light on the sauce, with mild cheddar. They would eat shredded lettuce and tomato topping when it was finished. With ketchup, which I thought was nasty. But hey, it kept them alive, and peace at the dinner table.
Nancy August 30, 2022
Lori -
Thanks for the benefit of your experience and some useful ideas.
Especially liked the magic trick of the disappearing vegetables.
Yes, the task is to get them to eat and survive… and maybe even enjoy it!
702551 August 30, 2022
The most popular pizza toppings in the USA -- for American style pizzas -- are pepperoni and sausage on a tomato/cheese pizza. He's already a card-carrying vegetable hater so you can probably rule out mushrooms as well.

As for cheese and kids, the blander the better. Don't be putting stronger flavored premium cheese on, it's often just lost on younger palates.

The more toppings you put on will multiply his likelihood of rejection. Buying some vacuum-packed bag of insipid commercial mozzarella designed for pizzas is a better choice in this scenario than something from the staffed cheese counter.

However the fundamental problem with going by most common/popular ingredients is that picky eaters frequently do not follow these trends. If you asked a hundred people on the street, it's still quite possible that this kid would shoot almost all of their favorites down.

For the greatest chance of success, your best bet would be to ask his parents about his food preferences, not random strangers on the Internet like us. His parents will know what he will swallow and what he'll spit back on his plate because his pickiness is partly their doing anyhow.

Best of luck.
Nancy August 30, 2022
Thanks for the tips, especially on the blander cheese choices.
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