Hot Wheels puts its toy cars on the menu of hatted restaurants in Melbourne to reward well-behaved children

In an effort to encourage parents to move away from rewarding good behaviour in restaurants with screen time, Hot Wheels is putting its toys ‘On the Menu’ of three of Melbourne’s hatted restaurants.

The campaign was devised by Thinkerbell. 

A $3.50 Hot Wheels car will appear at the bottom of a children’s degustation menu created by chef Charlie Carrington of Atlas Dining for two weeks. After that the initiative will move to Tulum on a menu devised by Coskun Uysal and then Guy Stanaway’s Rare Hare of Jackalope Hotel.

The participating children will also be provided with a placemat designed by Kat Chadwick which features a race track.

The On the Menu initiative is designed to get parents to reward children with toys rather than screen time at restaurants

The campaign is backed by Hot Wheels’ research which found that of the 98% of parents regularly eating out with their kids in Australia, only 5% feel comfortable eating at finer venues. 46% of parents opt for dining at fast food restaurants when they are with their children and 65% of parents say they would like to take their young kids to fine dining restaurants if there were no barriers.

Jacinta Whitehead, marketing director of Mattel ANZ, said: “For over 50 years Hot Wheels have been encouraging kids to ignite their challenger spirit through imaginative play. This year, Hot Wheels want to challenge parents to reward their kids with Hot Wheels instead of screens or other treats.

“As we are always challenging the norm, we wanted to do something completely out of the box. So, partnering with renowned chefs and putting Hot Wheels on unexpected menus was the perfect pairing.

“As a result, children will be able to choose from a series of diecasts and will be given a unique dining racetrack (placemat) that they can then colour in and navigate around – something we believe is bound to keep them entertained.”

Thinkerbell’s creative tinker, Ben Couzens, said: “Hot Wheels have always been great fun to play with and are also a great way to reward the kids. It’s much more fun and interactive watching them play with a car than a screen. We hope Hot Wheels ‘On the Menu’ helps parents realise that there is an alternative to shoving a screen in their kids face.”

Atlas Dining’ Charlie Carrington, Tulum’s Coskun Uysal and Rare Hare’s Guy Stanaway are all participating in the initiative

Stanaway said he related to the initiative because of his own two children.

“We are at that young family stage with two energetic kids and eating out together can be far from a relaxed event, for us and other diners. As a parent, it feels easy to throw a screen in front of kids to keep them still and silent, but it also means you’re creating a barrier between them and what potentially, is a really cool new type of family experience,” Stanaway said.

“By putting Hot Wheels on the menu, I want families to feel very welcome at our restaurants. Charlie, Coskun and I are encouraging our industry peers to accept the challenge and follow suit – no matter the venue – and find their own ways of becoming more accommodating and welcoming of families.”

Psychologist, Jocelyn Brewer, commented: “Children are constantly absorbing everything around them and mimicking both their peers’ and their parents’ behaviours as they learn. Introducing children to new foods and environments, like a variety of dining experiences from a young age can help build positive habits as they pick up on valuable social learnings and cues.

“While exposing children to new environments and contexts is valuable, it’s important we create realistic expectations and make it as fun and novel as possible. Engaging families and children with a range of activities and toys helps build family rituals and healthy social habits. Hot Wheels is a great example, as the cars are collectable, portable, they can help unlock imagination and creativity and spark interest across generations. They can also be a handy tool to start table talk as many parents will have their own memories of Hot Wheels growing up.”

Hot Wheels ‘On the Menu’ will run in Atlas Dining between March 3 and March 17, Tulum from March 17 to March 31 and Rare Hare from March 31 until Easter.


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