ABC Food is the latest and possibly greatest app from Peapod Labs’s series of ABC apps focused on both letter recognition as well as teaching about a specific topic, be it animals, music, modes of transportation or sports and includes the use of beautifully detailed photographs, videos from Youtube and sometimes fun facts as well. ABC Food includes a new feature to this series as this app contains fun interactions for each food highlighted within this application.

Similar to the other apps in this series, this delightful application opens to the menu page of available foods alphabetically arranged. Tap to select a food to explore further and note the “little explorer,” hanging from the top left corner of the screen wearing a chef’s uniform and holding a window which is actually the preview of the included food interaction. Tapping here leads the player to the hands-on section of this app where one can eat, chop, squeeze, pour, or decorate these food options – elements my son simply loves to participate in.

One will also notice that at the bottom of the screen, the food being explored here will be spelled out, and any of these letters can also be chosen as well, or you can choose your favorite from the index. It is also super-cute that these letters are also being held up by “little explorers” – each a simple, illustrated and charmingly stylized character dressed up in a food-related costume that corresponds to the letter they represent – a nice touch.

Scrolling past the first photo with the interactive link, one will find other photos of said food as well a link to be taken to a food-related video from Youtube if one is online. It is also very helpful that the index keeps track of what foods you have already looked at and what else there is for you to discover.

As with the other ABC apps, the use of photography here is excellent and the varied Youtube videos are interesting as well, sometimes including cooking demonstrations or short segments on where foods come from, such as a clip about butter from the show “How It’s Made” with great information that I very much enjoyed and learned from, as did my son.

I really appreciate the inclusion of these interactions as this brings a new element to this style of app which brings a lot of repeat play, even without an internet connection needed to watch the included video clips. The selection of foods is lovely as well, with choices ranging from all of the food groups. Some sweets are also used here, but it is nice to see an emphasis on fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods and it is fun to hear my son say excitedly, “ I like asparagus…I like zucchini…”

The photography used within these interactions are wonderful as well, bright and vivid, and I love how different before-and-after photos are incorporated into these interactions, such as a raw, empty pizza crust being transformed into a ready-to-eat pepperoni pie, or allowing kids to “eat” a fish, exposing the bones beneath the meat from a once whole fish. Most of these foods will be recognized by most children, with a few that may be new foods to some, such as quinoa, xo sauce, quince or udon noodles, but I wish durian fruit were included here as well.

I must admit that I was momentarily disappointed to see that regardless of peeling a banana, cutting strawberries or pouring whipped cream, the movements of waving a finger across the screen are the same. Being a fan of cooking games, I was hoping for more specific and varied interactions that better simulate the task at hand, but I think after watching my son truly enjoy this interactive section, that this simplistic interaction is spot-on for his age range of 3.5 years without the frustration that varied interactions may bring.

This has quickly become a favorite in my house, getting a lot of use both on the iPad as well as iPhone. I knew this would be the case when I first heard about ABC Food as my son has played with his play kitchen and an abundance of play food for nearly two years now, with no hint of a slow-down. It is also nice to see that with the use of ABC Food, my son has had a resurgence of playing with the older apps in this series as well, which are equally engaging and beautiful to look at, if not specifically interactive.

I am eager to see if Peapod Labs develops another ABC app in this series, as I would love to see this style of app based on different occupations if possible, or any other themes they can come up with.

There is of course some letter recognition within in this app as well, but what keeps my son coming back to this app again and again is the plethora of foods to explore. I recommend this app for any child who is also a foodie or simply intrigued by great photography and a nice selection of videos and fun interactions.

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