Food search in a computerized 24h dietary recall (24hdr) for children should be easiest when the categories reflect children's categorization of foods, in contrast to professional categories. This study assessed how 8-13 year old children categorized and labeled mixed foods (e.g. fried rice, lasagna), and how these were influenced by child characteristics. A set of 48 cards with pictures and names of mixed foods from 14 professionally defined food groups was sorted by each child into piles of similar foods. Participants (n=146), including 8-13 year old 130 English speaking, and 16 Spanish speaking children, attended data collection in the summer, 2006. One way ANOVA, pairwise comparisons and Robinson matrices for identification of clusters were used. Children created an average of 10.5 (+/-5.5) piles with 6.0 (+/-4.1) cards per pile. No substantial differences in Robinson clustering were detected across subcategories for each of the demographic characteristics, body mass index, or 6-n-propylthiouracil sensitivity. For the majority of the piles, children provided "taxonomic-professional" (26.0%) labels, such as vegetables, sandwiches and drinks, or "specific-food item" (23.0%) labels, i.e. the name of the food. These categories may be used to facilitate mixed food search in a computerized 24hdr for children in this age group.