Give The Kids A Barbecue To Remember With Adorable Hot Dog Octopuses

Hot dog octopi in bento box
Hot dog octopi in bento box - yajima/Shutterstock

Whether your kiddos are back to school or home for the summer, deciding on what to serve them for lunch that won't go uneaten is a major challenge for most parents and guardians. One 2012 study published by Paediatrics and Child Health found that between 25% and 35% of toddlers and young children were described as "picky eaters" by their caregivers. This summer, while you are cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone else, let your little one in on the fun by serving them up hot dogs that look like a totally different creature: an octopus! These cute octopus hot dogs -- or "octopus weenies," if you will -- are a cleverly constructed food that is perfect for your child's lunchbox or as an afternoon snack.

The trend was popularized in Japan, specifically for the bento boxes that are used to create even portions and separate sections while packing food. Hot dogs are commonly sliced and boiled or microwaved to fit perfectly into the bento boxes, and they just so happen to look a whole lot like the eight-legged friends found in the ocean. Whether you're tossing them into a lunchbox or onto the grill for a family summertime cookout, you can dress these adorable creatures up in a variety of ways. The best part is it only takes a few quick slices to turn a store-bought hot dog of your choice into these adorable, edible pets.

Read more: What These Imitation Foods Are Actually Made Of

Creating Hot Dog Octopi Is Much Easier Than You Might Expect

Hot dog octopi on a plate
Hot dog octopi on a plate - sasazawa/Shutterstock

This octopus hot dog cutting method creates a school lunch or afterschool snack that your kids will actually eat. A tray full of totally transformed weenies might look like a complex meal idea, but it actually only takes a few simple steps. To turn a regular hot dog into an eight-legged creature from the deep blue sea, simply cut a full-sized hot dog in half, and then carefully cut the bottom half of each hot dog section in 90 degree quarters. Repeat the process again to create eight total legs. One TikToker shows just how easy it is to prep, cook, and serve these happy critters.

You can even pre-cut these cute little octopi and then toss them into some boiling water right before lunch in order to save on prep time. To add a touch of personality to our mollusk friends, you can simply carve out a pair of eyes and a smile with a toothpick or knife. You can also try using small foods such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or pieces of cheese to add another layer of color and texture. To introduce a new flavor profile into your kiddo's diet with a smile, consider tracing a friendly face onto the hot dog with condiments such as ketchup or mustard.

Playful Presentation May Encourage Your Picky Eater To Try New Foods

Pancake and fruit assembled to look like a fish
Pancake and fruit assembled to look like a fish - Viktoria Bakina/Shutterstock

Transforming regular meals into playful critters with smiling faces is a fun way to get your picky eater to try new foods without much objection. The Sanford Health Organization reported that the appearance and texture of a food plays a large role in how children interact with foods. It is not uncommon for a young child to enjoy the taste of something, but be unwilling to try similar tasting foods if they do not recognize them visually.

Hot dogs may not be appealing on their own, but kiddos will definitely recognize a cute little hot dog octopus swimming on their plate. You can even create an entire environment on your child's plate by adding other elements of the deep blue sea. Nuts and berries become the ocean floor, cucumber shavings and crinkle-cut French fries become a curtain of seaweed, and each octopus can have a hat made of cheese, fruit, or pieces of a hot dog bun formed with a flower cutter.

Even us grown-ups may be much more likely to try new foods if they greeted us with an adorable, drawn-on smile. For a playful twist that even adults will appreciate, try this slicing hack with a full hot dog rather than cutting them in half. You can also use more grown-up friendly ingredients to dress up the dogs, such as wasabi or chopped onions for the eyes, and lay them on slices of grilled pineapple that are cut to look like rafts.

Read the original article on Daily Meal