Prior to prohibition children rarely ate at restaurants. However, when restaurants could no longer serve alcohol, kids were seen as a new way to make up for lost revenue.
Interestingly, unlike the kids’ meals served today, back then, kids’ meals were healthy. The leading paediatrician of the time, Dr. Emmett Holt, had everyone convinced that children should only eat healthy foods, while pies, tarts and pastries were forbidden prior to the age of 10. As a result, the earliest kids’ menus featured flaked chicken over boiled rice, mixed green vegetables and broiled lamb chop.
It’s unfortunate that by World War II, most people no longer believed in the nutritional tenants of Dr. Emmett Holt, which is unfortunate, because had people continued to think like this, we probably wouldn’t have the obesity and diet-related disease epidemic that we do today.
I learned about this fact from: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/08/children_s_menu_history_how_prohibition_and_emmett_holt_gave_rise_to_kid.html