I’ve run across a statistic in my research on family dinners, and it was mentioned a few times at BlogHer Food last weekend. Children may have to be introduced to a new food as many as 12 times before they develop a taste for it, perhaps before they’ll even venture to taste it.


I think it’s time that my family’s palate expanded. We’ve made such strides in our family dinnertime. It’s more regular than it used to be. It’s a lot more relaxed. No force-feeding goes on. Conversations are longer and much more meaningful. A lot of laughter happens. I think it’s time to actively introduce new, healthy foods, but I don’t want to do any damage to the wonderful experience dinner has become.

So I’ve devised the The Great Sweet Potato Fry Experiment. I’m going to make sweet potato fries once every other week for the next six months and keep a journal of how my boys react to them. I made them once a couple of years ago. They didn’t like the fries, so I never made them again. But now that I have this “12 times” figure in my head, I’m not going to give up so easily.

I started the experiment last night. I made the same recipe I had made two years ago, Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonnaise. I sprinkled the basil salt on half the fries and left the other half plain. I put them on the table. I told the boys what they were. Then I shut up. My 8-year-old put one on his plate. Just one. My 11-year-old ignored them.

When the meal was done, I noticed my younger son had eaten his sweet potato fry, but he hadn’t taken any more. I asked my older son if he had tried them. He said he hadn’t. I suggested he take just one bite. He did. He didn’t like it. I let it slide. My husband and I however, really enjoyed the fries. They’re delicious plain, but the basil salt is a wonderful complement to them. The garlic mayonnaise makes them a little decadent, but it’s not necessary to enjoy them.

It will be interesting to see if, in six months or so, we’re all devouring the sweet potato fries.

Of course, I’ll be trying other new recipes throughout this time. I’m always trying new recipes, but they’re usually some variation on a food I know we already like. This is an experiment to see how we can add completely new-to-us healthy whole foods into our diet.

How do you introduce new foods into your family’s diet? 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Introducing new foods to children
It may take 12 introductions before a child takes a liking to a new food. Our food blogger test this theory with the Great Sweet Potato Fry Experiment.