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Why plastic or Styrofoam for kids?

We have a young son who has been visiting restaurants since before he could eat solid food.

Something that drives us (his father and I) nuts is how servers try to give him huge servings of his beverage of choice (usually club sods, sometimes milk) in plastic or Styrofoam cups.

After he orders his club soda, I always follow with “please put that in a small rocks glass.”

I do this for two reasons. The first is he doesn’t need 32 oz of anything to drink.

The second is, since he doesn’t drink out of flexible plastic or Styrofoam pitcher-sized vessels at home, there is a risk that he will squeeze it, pop the top off and send liquid all over the place. This hasn’t happened but why risk it?

At our regular places, the servers know our preferences but recently, we were at a few restaurants where the server could not understand that our 7yo was perfectly capable of drinking out of a real (small) glass. These places had carpet and hardwood on the floors so shattering glass flying all over the place was not a risk.

Why do restaurants go through the added expense of serving children out of disposable cups? A giant disposable cup that would spill would create far more of a mess than a small regular glass.

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  1. I am going to be so sorry I typed this.
    It's not about expense in the $ sense you are using but it is a $ problem at the training level.As long as the response is safest for the house,the house is OK.
    It's the lowest common denominator response ALREADY BUILT IN.
    Child = something,some one not on the menu radar,therefor do (?) . It's not rare to hear children called aliens and hairless puppies at the basic service training level.If there is one.
    If the primary concern "Jr" is going to bite a chip out of a well used glass,you will get plastic,period!This isn't true everywhere but it is about as rare as children's menus

    2 Replies
    1. re: lcool

      Biting the glass? That is something I never thought about. Even as a toddler, that wasn't something we worried about. (we did, however, worry about a 1,000 other things)

      And yes, I realize there are restaurants that view children as, at best, not a source of revenue. Our son orders "real food" off the regular menu but we are probably the in the minority.

      1. re: cleobeach

        I am with you 110%.......

        But I have as clients and partners restaurant groups to equal more than 300 store fronts,even as retiring.

        I hate the time taken for "children's and kiddies" menu option,as does more than 40% of the trade.Even more I loathe "what do we do" to cover our asses to keep the the customer and cover EVERY eventuality.
        Plenty of sober adults encounter the chipped,cracked glass and request a "fresh,new,replacement" the worry is a seven year old won't notice and ask.
        the list goes on and on and on

    2. Don't over think this, kids drop stuff. Plastic is cheaper than replacing broken glass and not a safety hazard if it drops.

      4 Replies
      1. re: enbell

        Yep, this. My kids got offered their drinks in gigantic styro cups with lids too. They were accustomed to glasses at home but they were known to periodically knock a drink over by accident. Just keep on asking for the type of glass you want. Maybe you'll open some minds.

        1. re: tcamp

          Oh, we do keep asking. So much so, I have to kick Mr. CB under the table once in a while when his frustration level starts to rise.

          Knock wood, our son has yet to drop a glass or spill in a restaurant and it rarely happens at home either. No doubt, I will get knocked off my high horse next time we go out to eat!

          We don't use plastic at home. I wasn't raised with it. My German father never would have drank out of a plastic cup or mug, he was fussy like that. My husband is a similar snob about plastic, he doesn't like the texture and swears it make drinks taste "funny."

          Now, neither of us would turn down a plastic cup at an outdoor event, picnic, etc, we just prefer glass.

          1. re: tcamp

            I am 28 and have been known to knock a drink over and I am no less prone than I was at age 5. I guess I need a foam cup at the restaurant as well?

          2. Such things don't generally happen in my part of the world. Customers, even small young ones, get glass glasses. Plastic, etc is generally reserved for fast food places.

            1. A lot of parents in America these days use plastic dinnerware and glasses universally at home (even for themselves), probably because it's cheaper and it doesn't break.

              Sad to say that the typical at-home American dinner is now some kind of microwaved prepared foot, accompanied by super jumbo size soda, using plastic dinnerware, eaten in front of a blaring TV.

              1 Reply
              1. re: taos

                We use unbreakable dinnerware for my toddler. The character kind, most of it bought at Target. Two reasons- she loves to finish her plate of whatever and see the face at the bottom. And because, well, she tosses things when she's done.

                If she chooses to sit at the table with us, she gets a small real dish. Once she gets antsy we move away the plate

              2. a 7 year old and the server "didn't get it"? They offered a 32 oz drink to a kid? Where were you, Applebees?

                I get it why a place might do it for toddlers. Plastic/styrofoam glasses with tops have a lower chance of being spilled. Family friendly places try to cut down on the clean up/mess factor. And, as someone else posted, many Americans uses paper/plastic at home as a matter of course and have come to expect while dining out.

                But once a kid is out of toddlerhood? I guess I don't understand how a server wouldn't understand that request-again unless is some main stream mass media type chain.

                2 Replies
                1. re: foodieX2

                  I'm sometimes amazed at what throws servers. We enjoy going to a pub near our house were the "Kids Menu" is simply a smaller portion of some of the regular menu items. My extremely active 9-year old son has found the quantity of food on the kids menu to be too small for some time now. There have been a few times where, even after we specified fish and chips from the regular menu, the kid size comes out with one little piece of fish. It's confusing to some that a "kid" might need the adult sized entree.

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    Where were you, Applebees?

                    -------------------------------------------------------------

                    Ha! No. It was an independent place a couple of towns over from where we live. One side is a higher-end, fine dining restaurant, the other (where we were sitting) is a bit more causal with a big bar and a fireplace.

                  2. Liability. Period.

                    All it takes is one drop of blood from a hovering mamma's little darling, and the restaurant owner can just hang it up.

                    It's not the cost of breakage -- it's the cost if just one kid comes in contact with just one sliver of broken glass.

                    1. I saw the same thing this weekend at a local pizza place. The "adult" cups were Pepsi-issued rigid plastic, and the kids at the next table over still got styrofoam. I assumed it was more for lids and spill prevention.