1470: Kix

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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My parents sent me to several years of intensive Kix test prep.
Title text: My parents sent me to several years of intensive Kix test prep.


This comic may be a commentary about the uselessness of brainstorming sessions or the bad ideas that come out of them, as they are often started with the phrase “there are no bad ideas”. As the brainstorming session continues the original meaning of the slogan is lost, much like a game of telephone, and the session becomes less productive.

Kix is an American brand of cold breakfast cereal made of extruded and expanded cornmeal. Its slogan, "Kid tested, Mother approved," is well known in the United States, and is meant to suggest that children generally enjoy the cereal and their mothers, who are naturally concerned about the health of their children, approve of its ingredients. However, in this brainstorming session, the word "Approved" has apparently not yet been considered. A number of possible words and phrases for the ending have been presented and stricken out, indicating that they were rejected; each one causes the slogan to be subject to increasingly absurd and comedic interpretations:

  1. Selected: This word may have been chosen as a slant rhyme of "Tested". This word shares a definition with "Approved", and states that mothers specifically choose this cereal over others. This phrase could also suggest that one mother herself had been chosen for some unstated purpose.
  2. Perfected: It's likely that the previous word inspired someone in the brainstorming session to find a similarly positive word that rhymes with "Selected". It states that one or more mothers were directly involved in developing and refining the cereal's composition to a high degree. Much like with "Selected", this could also suggest that the mother was somehow improved to perfection during the test.
  3. Not Notified: Relates to the world of experimental research and clinical trials. This phrase suggests that the children who tested the cereal did not obtain the required consent, which would generally involve notifying and getting permission from both parents.
  4. Watching Helplessly: Again we can see that in a brainstorming session such the previous option may trigger this one as it is related to the dangers of testing. This phrase suggests that mothers were forced to watch their children test the cereal, and that the cereal or the test is unhealthy or dangerous.
  5. Infected: This may be intended to show the group dynamic of the brainstorming session as it is inspired by option one and two, as infected rhymes with both selected and perfected, and by the third option as both relate to dangerous testing. This slogan states that an infectious agent was passed to the mother as a result of the test. This could also be interpreted as the mother having introduced the infectious agent into the cereal or testing environment.
  6. Consumed: Continuing the trend of dark slogans this slogan says that the mothers were themselves consumed, perhaps by their children (by virtue of the mother being an ingredient in the cereal), the cereal itself, or something otherwise related to the test. Another possible interpretation is that the mother ate the cereal after the kid tested it, possibly because the kid did not enjoy the taste.
  7. Fucker: This expletive is often paired with "Mother" to form the compound word "Motherfucker". In this case, the slogan changes to vocative case: "[This cereal has been] Kid Tested, Motherfucker!". This appears to be an "elephant" - a ponderous ending of a joke that contrasts sharply with the refined and mild humor of the previous options. The phrase itself basically only states that a child tested the cereal and implies that nothing else matters. Using a swear word on packaging of a food designed for kids is usually not a good idea. [citation needed]

The title text conflates the phrase "Kid tested" with college entrance exams such as the Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT) or the ACT. Instead of stating that a child tasted the cereal and gave their opinion on its quality, the cereal itself is an academic subject on which the child was tested. Randall, referring to how some parents enroll their children in special classes or schools to prepare them to score well in this type of test, states that his parents extensively prepared him for a college entrance exam about Kix cereal.

Cereal advertising has previously been referenced in 38: Apple Jacks.


[Ponytail, Megan, and Cueball are standing around a whiteboard on an easel; Ponytail and Cueball are holding red markers. The whiteboard reads:]
[in Large] Kix
[Underlined] Slogan ideas
Kid Tested, Mother...

[following lines all in red and each crossed out]

Not notified
Watching helplessly

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Is there a category:comics with strong language? 11:36, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

From now on I don't think I'll ever see a box of Kix in the store without thinking, "Kid Tested, Mother Fucker!"Bmmarti3 (talk) 13:16, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Is it just me or does the last item in the list seem a little out of place for something Randall would write/post? It doesn't seem to me that he normally takes to swearing (at all) in any of his strips. Jarod997 (talk) 13:34, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

What's wrong with swearing, you guys? This is XKCD; we're supposedly a mature audience who doesn't shy away from using words simply because they're about sex and sex is bad. XKCD has dealt with sexual subject matter before, I don't think Randall ever tried to market it as a 'family-oriented' webcomic. If your kid gets XKCD jokes, I think they're mature enough to learn about sex! :P 14:14, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Actually this is xkcd, and I'm not saying there's a problem - just that Randall doesn't usually directly swear in his comics. It's just an observation. BTW, where'd the sex thing come from? Jarod997 (talk) 14:39, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure which webcomic you're thinking of... (?) because it couldn't be xkcd... I would agree that xkcd is about romance, sarcasm, math and language, and not about swearing... but by searching for your chosen epithet using the search box at the top of this page (I chose and found 27 examples of "fuck"), you can find such words used whenever he needed them (and occasionally even when they weren't needed per se) used in the titles, dialogue, labels, and title text. Please, take a couple moments and confirm for yourself. Without thorough analysis, I'd guess there was a "swear word" of one sort or another in nearly 10% of xkcd comics -- Brettpeirce (talk) 15:11, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
xkcd.com/90 "Where's my fucking jacket?" "Over there, next to your regular one" one of my favorite classic xkcd, redefined my perseption of the word "fucking" in conversation. It is perpetually hyphenated in my mind. 03:37, 8 January 2015 (UTC)BLuDgeons
xkcd.com/37 "Hyphen" "My hobby: whenever anyone calls something an [adjective]-ass [noun], I mentally move the hyphen one word to the right. Cueball: Man, that's a sweet ass-car." - Another favorite...also pretty much has swearing at the heart of the comic. -- 15:14, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
The word 'fucker' is traditionally considered obscene because of it refers to sexual intercourse, which is considered a taboo subject that should be approached with care and sensitivity in Western Culture. So what I meant was that unless you consider that approach to the word warranted, it's not entirely logical to proscribe saying the word either. But since you don't seem to have an issue with that, I do agree: Randall doesn't swear in excess, but he does it when the occasion calls for it (like here), and that's completely fine. 15:59, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

The last one sounds like something Donald Draper would come up with if he was an increasingly cynical ad exec in the 70's or 80's when this came out. 14:15, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

I don't believe the use of Mother Fucker is sexual in this context, just an epithet. And Randall has used swearwords throughout the lifetime of xkcd, albeit not liberally. Mattdevney (talk) 14:28, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Maybe he has never used the mother F word - and it does only appear here if you think it through... But the F word is used several time in the comics as can be seen by a simple search. See for instance: 388:_Fuck_Grapefruit. 114: Computational Linguists, 874: Time Management, 566: Matrix Revisited, 714: Porn For Women, 931: Lanes and especially the title text of 110: Clark Gable Kynde (talk) 15:03, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
There's also the infamous "Bangarang, motherfucker" from 813: One-Liners. -- 09:36, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that - and I just realized that the word is written as one word not split up. So I just checked and he has actually also used it once more here 1212: Interstellar Memes - though it is hard to find. But the star usees the Die Hard staement written here below in the next answer to the comment above ours. --Kynde (talk) 14:32, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree, it's more in the spirit of Die Hard's "Yippie ki yay, motherfucker" or the Usual Suspects's "Hand me the fucking keys, you fucking cocksucker". It's an additional expletive to show disrespect and contempt of the person you're talking to and about to get medieval on. Kev (talk) 20:03, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I also Agree that Rather then Sexual I went to more of a Samuel L. Jackson sounding tone of it. Jimmyjazzx (talk) 03:29, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

From the xkcd website: Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)... I do think we need a category for these occasions of strong language. 16:36, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

We should include special categories for "unusual humor" and "advanced mathematics" as well 20:31, 7 January 2015 (UTC)BLuDgeons
If we need such a category, we could as well call it "unsuitable for children". 19:52, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

In the interest of science, I have created a category for comics with strong language. ImVeryAngryItsNotButter (talk) 18:35, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Seems like someone did not like it - if you did do that? There is no such category now. Which is also not needed in my opinion. Kynde (talk) 14:48, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

This being XKCD, I think it's more appropriate if you made a category for "any comics not fitting the catagories" 11:23, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

I just noticed that if you read downward (acrosticly) from the last letter in "SELECTED" you get "DEFEC" - which implies a different rhyming response.--Schnitz (talk) 19:18, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

When I read "Kid tested, mother not notified" I thought more of "Kid tested for substance abuse, mother not notified of the (positive) test result". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I had a sometimes different take on the explanation:

For "Mother Selected", my first thoughts were that the mother was herself selected (for unknown purposes) despite/because of the kid being the one assessed for suitability.
"Mother Perfected" seemed to suggest that after checking the child that she created, she was tweaked (genetically?) so that future kids wouldn't perhaps have some fault discovered in the first one.
"Mother Not Notified", as already given in this Talk section, was "not told of the result of the test".
"Mother Watching Helplessly" - per concensus.
"Mother Infected", someone checked the kid for some disease or other, but it was actually the mother that was ill.
"Mother Consumed", Mommy entered the food-chain (either as too old to bother testing the same as her child, or as part of the assessment process by the child).
And the last assessment I agree with (although was half expecting a "MILF" reference... but there's not one there that I can see).

...but I can't argue with what's already been given. Consider the above as supplementary only. 20:27, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

I believe "Kid tested, Mother consumed" means that the kid tested the product and didn't want to eat it but the mother also tasted it and decided that she liked it and possibly became addicted Carlosm (talk) 21:53, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

"Kid tested, Mother infected": they tested the kid (because they couldn't test the mother) and if confirms their suspicions: the mother is infected (and the kid as well). (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I did a significant rewrite of the explanation and incorporated most of these alternative interpretations. :) KieferSkunk (talk) 01:42, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
Revert on 1/9/15

Hey, I just saw this revert and wanted to discuss it with the person who did that revert. I was the one who had put quite a bit of time into trying to improve the quality of the explanation yesterday. I believe that the new text I put in did not substantially change the overall meaning of the explanation or any of the individual items in that list. I also took care to account for additional ideas that made sense from this discussion page. By reverting all of that, you threw quite a bit of work away that I (and possibly a number of other people) felt was valuable. Please, before reverting it again, could you work with us on this? Thanks. KieferSkunk (talk) 00:30, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Looking at the edit log, it looks a lot like a straight up revert through multiple peoples' edits, which I really can't say I a fan of. Try to avoid doing stuff like that, it destroys good edits along with the ones you disagree with. Davidy²²[talk] 02:20, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Given the edit summary on the revert (that "someone" had "incorrectly" changed the definitions), I can't help but see it as terribly ironic, seeing as how the comic (and the explanation) is about how people can interpret things differently. KieferSkunk (talk) 09:34, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Maybe last word "Fucker" is a cameo for SOAD and their song Chop Suey -- Valdemar (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think "Kid tested, mother infected" sounds like a thinly veiled AIDS joke. (edit: This is my first time editing xkcd, the other contributions aren't me)-- 22:33, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

My understanding of the "motherfucker" one was different. I thought it was used either as an expletive (because they were frustrated at being unable to come up with a reasonable proposal) or it was just a joke proposal (as brainstorming sessions always seem to descend into as people get bored). Anyone else agree? Baquea (talk) 11:08, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

Shouldn't the "Mother Not Notified" and "Mother Watching Helplessly" make the "Kid Tested" assertion be reinterpreted using the same grammar? In "Mother Selected", the interpretation would be "Selected [by] mother" and "Tested [by] kid". But "Mother Not Notified" would be "Mother [was] Not Notified", which would lead "Kid Tested" to be parsed as "Kid [was] Tested". So of course the "Mother [was] watching helplesly" as tests were being run on her kid. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

As someone who had no idea what Kix was when I saw the cartoon, I thought until I came to this site that it was some 'egg donor' company that promised exceptional children as the outcome. Go figure (and yes, in that case the last entry makes total sense). 00:13, 31 March 2019 (UTC)