Chicago mom makes good food fun

The ‘good stuff’ mom: Lori Cook

  • Husband Vince; Two sons, Tyler, 6, and Nate, 8
  • Clarendon Hills
  • Creator of Groovin’ Groceries Adventure, a children’s wellness program. She is a national voiceover talent on products such as Huggies and Flintstones Vitamins and owner of Wholesome Studios.

Fun with good food

A few years ago, cruising the grocery store with her son, Nate, Lori Cook ran into an ah-ha moment. Nate—and probably every other kid his age—wanted to load the cart with everything that had a cartoon character on it.

The cereal aisle was the worst, she says, thinking, “This is really making my job harder as a mom. I want him to be excited about putting stuff in the cart that I’m excited about. I was feeling like a mean mommy walking down the aisle.”

Why, she wondered, don’t food producers put fun marketing on the good stuff? With her background in publishing, music and advertising, she says she decided to do just that.

“I just felt like I wasn’t the only one fighting the battle,” she says.

Out of that trip, Bobby Broccoli and the Hip Hop Crops, Banana Jamma and the Fruity Party, Fiona Fish and the Lean Machine, Max Milk and the Disco Dairy, and Betsy Bread and the Grainiacs and their friends were born.

She has worked through the Chicago Park District wellness center and WTTW Great Kids Food Fan Van.

“My goal is to help kids get excited to try new foods. … I want them to have that raw enthusiasm,” she says.

How has motherhood changed you?

How hasn’t it? (She laughs.) Before, your time was totally your own. There’s a major shift from being two people living a fairly single life, to having to be home and on a schedule. That’s major. I think we went into the first child shock. When the second one came, we were like, ‘oh we got this.’

Now everything is hitting its stride and (motherhood) is everything that I ever hoped it would be.

What has been your best moment as a mom?

When you start to see their personalities develop and they show you that raw joy. When we used to live by the El tracks, it would be when the train would pass by. Everything is still super exciting. It kind of reinvigorates your own enthusiasm for everything because you are seeing it again for the first time.

What has been your biggest parenting fail?

I’m sure there is a big long list. I think it’s one of those things where you are always wondering if you could do it better. If something didn’t work, tweak it. It’s a hard job. I’ve read a boatload of books, and then what do you do when the books don’t tell you something that matches your circumstance? I call my mom, that’s what I do.

If your friends just dropped by unexpectedly, what room would you be most embarrassed for them to see?

My office. There are about four boxes that haven’t been unpacked (since a move from the city in August), I have papers laid out all over the bed and the fall clothes we are getting ready to get into are sitting in the corner waiting for the closet rotation. So yeah, it’s not looking so good. It’s easy to close the door.

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