Industry News | March 19, 2002

Panda Express Introduces Kids’ Meal Program

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Chinese quick-serve chain Panda Express announced the roll-out of the first kids’ meal program in the concept’s nineteen-year history. For $2.99, kids will receive a drink and an option of rice or noodles to complement their item of choice, such as the popular Orange-Flavored Chicken or Beef with Broccoli. The new kids’ meals will debut on March 24 largely in mall locations, with plans for a nationwide roll-out in April.

“Since families make up about half of the Panda Express customer base, we think it’s important to let kids know they are special at Panda Express. This is just for them, they don’t have to share with their parents,” said Vicki Gelberg, vice president of marketing for parent company Panda Restaurant Group. “This new concept allows Panda to share a little bit of its culture with its younger customers.”

More than just a meal, Panda Express will give out a “Panda Kids” newsletter filled with games and activities with each kids combo. Each issue of the “Panda Kids News” focuses on a different educational topic relating to pandas and other endangered animals, Asian culture, and the environment. “In talking with parents, we understood that kids lost interest very quickly with toys that came from standard kids’ meals,” said Gelberg. “On the ride home, it was just another thing lying around in the car. We want the Panda Express kid’s experience to be fun and at the same time educational.”

Panda Express will have several issues of the newsletter available simultaneously so frequent customers will not receive the same newsletter repeatedly. Eventually, Panda will tie the newsletter to an interactive screen on their website that will offer a broader educational format.

In addition, the kids’ combo includes a special kids-focused fortune cookie with fortunes like “Your mom is probably right,” “Sweet dreams come to those who sleep,” and “You are what you eat. Hey—you don’t look like an orange chicken!”

Panda Express has more than 450 locations throughout 35 states, Japan, and Puerto Rico.