Emily Yao, Co-Founder
Dave Resnick, Co-Founder
Robert Kaufmann, Developer
Misa Tanaka, Content Creator
Planet Murple is educational program to facilitate adventurous eating, targeted to kids aged four to eight. It began as a school project by two students in Berkeley’s MBA and MPH programs, progressing after a successful Indiegogo campaign and mentorship from GSVLabs and Google Developers Launchpad. I worked on the minimum viable product before it was piloted by 25 Bay Area families.
Kids have fickle palates, often requiring repeated exposures before they are willing to try new food. While parents want their kids to eat well, they report being short on time and thus often losing motivation. As a result, our primary challenges were:
1. How do we make adventurous eating easier for parents?
2. How do we make healthy food playful, not prescriptive?
solutions: How do we make adventurous eating easier for parents?
Imaginative content and recipes.
Kids are immersed into the world of Planet Murple, where the possibilities of food are endless — kale can become a forest, for instance, or sesame seeds can be sand on a beach. By welcoming kids with the short film “Big Sea Adventure,” Planet Murple eliminates the fatigue of parents to innovate healthy dishes for kids’ constantly-changing palates. Kids are primed to explore specific fruits and vegetables, and adults are presented with four guided recipes, graded by level of difficulty. Through the main navigation, parents are able to email themselves recipes in order to prepare ingredients ahead of time.
Facilitation of kitchen safety and culinary skills.
A common concern of parents is the potential danger of being in the kitchen. To alleviate any anxiety around sharp knives or hot ovens, the program presents kids with educational videos about relevant kitchen concerns before embarking on each guided recipe.
Activities during oven time.
Time is continuously a short resource for parents, and young ones are often easily distracted. To keep kids engaged during longer periods of oven time, the program presents multi-sensory activities. By doing a taste test of three different colored peppers or learning a cauliflower-themed dance, kids continue to explore fruits and vegetables independently, without requiring extra effort from parents.
solutions: How do we make healthy food playful, not prescriptive?
A colorful, interactive interface.
We discovered that fruits and vegetables can have a bad reputation among kids for a number of reasons. From fear of unfamiliar tastes to the prevalence of fast food marketing, young ones often perceive fruits and vegetables as an obligation, not a treat. To reframe healthy food as fun, all visual elements of Planet Murple are bright and eye-catching. Interactive elements span a rainbow spectrum, and exploration is encouraged. To acknowledge ingredients have been gathered, for instance, their outlines fill with color when tapped. The majority of Murple media are cheerful claymation videos or painterly illustrated GIFs to engage and delight.
Research shows that kids who are involved in making their food are more likely to eat it. Through interactive recipes, Planet Murple transforms preparing and eating healthy food into a mission. Kids learn to make simple story-themed dishes to earn badges, while broadening their palate at the same time. Encouraging dialogue and key moments of reflection also foster a sense of accomplishment.
No wrong answers.
To facilitate fun, our guiding principle was to reinforce the idea that there were no wrong answers. We were continuously delighted by the creative suggestions of kids during testing, and while it would certainly be ideal if young ones enjoyed eating fruits and veggies, even just tasting a new food would be considered a “win” toward healthier eating. Practice makes perfect, after all.