Kennedy: Top 5 foods for teenage boys are Chick-fil-A, Lay's potato chips, hot dogs, doughnuts and pepperoni pizza

How to feed 10 boys at the beach

The cart may runneth over, but the food doesn't last long when you're feeding 10 adolescent boys at a Florida beach house.
The cart may runneth over, but the food doesn't last long when you're feeding 10 adolescent boys at a Florida beach house.

According to Better Homes & Gardens magazine, the Top 5 superfoods for teenagers are, in order: orange juice, wild berries, peanut butter, yogurt and walnuts.


Now, all we have to do is get teenagers to read Better Homes & Gardens. I'm trying to imagine our 17-year-old son curling up with an article like "18 Best Perennial Plants for Shade."

My family recently participated in a field experiment that could have been called: "How To Feed 10 Boys at the Beach."

Our two sons and eight of their friends joined us for a week at a beach house in Florida. Eight of the 10 are rising high school seniors, and the other two are age 12.

Part of the arrangement was that we would feed the boys two or three meals a day at the house, which meant I developed a friendship with the lady behind the deli counter at the Santa Rosa Beach Publix.

"You again?" she would say.

After this experiment, I can confidently report that the "real" Top 5 foods for growing teen-age boys are: Chick-fil-A sandwiches, glazed doughnuts, pepperoni pizza, barbecue-flavored Lay's potato chips and hot dogs.

Believe me, I watched to see if any of the boys tried to forage for wild berries, but, alas, they did not. Nor did they crack any walnuts or beg for portions of yogurt.

They did, however, have deep cravings for chicken sandwiches. I'm not sure what seasonings they add to Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but something in there is clearly addictive to a boy's gut.

My favorite quote of the trip came from a hungry, 6-foot-4-inch, 17-year-old who bit into a Chick-fil-A sandwich and immediately got a rapturous look on his face.

photo Mark Kennedy

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"This is like eating pages out of the Bible," he sighed.

I learned on the trip that the standard portion for a teenage boy is about three times the normal intake for an adult man. So if I was satisfied with a single chicken sandwich, the teenagers each needed three.

One morning I tried cooking bacon for the group. Four pounds into this endeavor I realized that I couldn't keep up. Most of the eight 17-year-olds in our group were over 6 feet tall and could inhale a pound of bacon at one sitting. One morning my wife cracked 30 eggs, and they quickly vanished, too.

I was a bit surprised by the teens' enduring love affair with hot dogs. Whenever the boys began to debate lunch choices, hot dogs seemed to be the default compromise. Some 17-year-old boys eat hot dogs like 10-year-olds eat chicken nuggets: in multiples of four. Boiled or grilled, it doesn't matter. Just line 'em up and watch them disappear.

I was also reminded that three meals a day is a standard that does not apply to young American males. The minimum is four: breakfast, lunch, early dinner and late dinner. This does not include between-meal snacking, which can include heaping bowls of dry cereal.

I might mention that none of these kids is overweight. They simply require massive intakes of calories to feed their growing bodies.

Which reminded me of what it felt like to be a 17-year-old male, an age when it's hard to distinguish eating from breathing and a full tummy is as comforting as a sack full of warm chicken sandwiches.

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.

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