Nearly 80% of parents consider their time in school the best years of their life

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Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Smucker’s asked parents to reflect on their own experiences in school.(Photo by courtney Hobbs on Unsplash)

From eating unidentifiable cafeteria food, struggling to open a locker for the first time and getting lost the first day of high school, some school experiences are universal.

A new survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children (aged 6–18) compiled a list of American parents’ most commonly shared school memories.

Experiences with food and the infamous school cafeteria dominated the top of parents’ list, as the most common school memory was found to be bringing lunch to school (53 percent).

That was followed by being unable to tell what the food in the school cafeteria was (47 percent) and trading snacks with classmates during lunch (47 percent).

But there was more than that — also toward the top were learning how to write in cursive (30 percent), having a “big buddy” class (27 percent) and surreptitiously passing notes (26 percent).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Smucker’s, the survey had parents reflect on their own experiences as the new school year quickly approaches.

From pizza parties for school spirit to playing heads up seven up and attending pep rallies, 77 percent of parents surveyed would go as far as to say that their school days were the best years of their life.

The vast majority of parents (80 percent) have fond memories of the back-to-school season, and they’ve worked to share this excitement with their children.

When asked what they’re looking forward to in the back-to-school season, students said they’re excited to go back-to-school shopping for new supplies (62 percent) and new clothes (61 percent).

And that’s in addition to showing off their new supplies to friends (45 percent) and buying a new lunch box and thermos (45 percent).

In that lunch box, you’re likely to find a note from a parent 80 percent) and a PB&J sandwich — something the average child eats three times a week.

There’s nostalgia in that as well, as 49 percent of parents say PB&J was one of their favorites when they were growing up.

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“Back to school season is an exciting time of year for Smucker’s, and we’re thrilled to hear that 81 percent of kids today are still enjoying a delicious peanut butter and jelly multiple times a week — just like their parents did growing up,” said Ali Brown, Director of Brand Strategy for Smucker’s at The J.M. Smucker Company.

And maybe a lunch box — packed with a meal from home — is a good idea, since “eating gross cafeteria food” was in the top five common memories for both kids and parents alike (№4 and №3, respectively).

When packing a lunch or making a snack for their child, parents say their top concern is finding something their child will eat (63 percent), followed by ensuring they have a serving of fruit or vegetables included (62 percent) and that it’s healthy (57 percent).

“We know a peanut butter and jelly is something the majority of kids love to eat, alleviating what parents say is their top concern,” continued Brown. “We also know a lot of families are always on-the-go, and peanut butter and jelly is perfect for that too.”


  1. Bringing my lunch to school 53 percent
  2. Being unable to tell what the food served in the cafeteria was 47 percent
  3. Trading food during lunch with classmates at school 47 percent
  4. Eating gross cafeteria food at school 45 percent
  5. Showing off my new school supplies at school 40 percent
  6. Struggling to open my locker at school 34 percent
  7. Learning how to type on a computer at school 31 percent
  8. Learning how to write in cursive at school 30 percent
  9. Getting lost on the first day of school 29 percent
  10. Going to the school to find out who my teacher would be 29 percent
  11. Picking my classes for the next semester/year at school 28 percent
  12. Homecoming at school 28 percent
  13. Having a ‘big buddy’ class (or being a ‘big buddy’) at school 27 percent
  14. Taking field trips with school 27 percent
  15. Square dancing in gym class at school 26 percent
  16. Football games at school 26 percent
  17. Passing notes during class 26 percent
  18. Signing yearbooks at school 26 percent
  19. Assemblies at school 26 percent
  20. Getting my back-to-school list in the mail 26 percent
  21. Checking out books at the library at school 25 percent
  22. Prom at school 25 percent
  23. Trying to be in as many photos for the yearbook as possible 25 percent
  24. Talent shows at school 25 percent
  25. Pizza parties for school spirit 25 percent


  1. Square slices of pizza 52 percent
  2. Small cartons of milk 51 percent
  3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich 47 percent
  4. Cheese-filled breadsticks 47 percent
  5. Knock-off brands of soda 36 percent


  1. Making sure it’s something my child(ren) will eat 63 percent
  2. Ensuring they have a serving of fruit or vegetables 62 percent
  3. Making something healthy 57 percent
  4. Making something that’s easy to eat on-the-go 57 percent
  5. Cost 39 percent

>> Download the video & infographic for this research story <<

NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.

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