Friday, November 19, 2010
Happy Meal toys are more than just a prize



Kid's meal toys have caused quite a stir lately. The San Francisco, California, Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance banning the inclusion of toys with the meals that don't meet new nutritional standards. Eventually, Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, vetoed the ordinance. Newsom's veto could be overturned because the board approved the measure by a veto-proof margin.

The controversial move drew a lot of attention to Happy Meal toys, and we decided to ask iReporters to share their photos and memories of the little plastic souvenirs. We received numerous submissions from iReporters and many of them believe the toys don't encourage people to purchase an often-unhealthy meal. In fact, many say they don't even want the meal. Instead, they collect these toys because they take on a more personal meaning.

Shari Atukorala, of Kandy, Sri Lanka, keeps several Colonel Sanders toys she collected from KFC. The Colonel brings back memories of her childhood; she remembers flipping through her mother's magazines and looking at the glossy, full-page advertisements. "To know that Colonel Sanders is from the U.S. and now in Sri Lanka is really something big for me, and I love it." Atukorala isn't the only iReporter whose toy collection reminds them of the past.

Sandra Kent's collection has become a series of mementos from when her children were younger. "I have a Pokémon toy which reminds me of when [my kids] collected Pokémon cards and traded them with their friends," she said. Her favorite, a toy from the movie "E.T.," reminds her of seeing her children react as they watched the film together.

To some iReporters, these toys don't just represent memories of the past. For Cynthia Carr Falardeau, the toys have become a symbol of her daily struggle with her son's eating disorder. "My son, like [many] kids on the spectrum of autism, [has] eating issues. Due to sensory integration and being orally defensive, they are picky eaters,” she said. Falardeau sometimes finds that a kid's meal toy encourages her son to eat, even when his condition tells him not to.

iReporters say the Happy Meal toys have become important mementos in their lives. Do you have any special memories of kid's meal prizes? What do you think about the controversy over Happy Meal toys? Share your thoughts and comments below.

November 19, 2010
Click to view kimd's profile

Okay, here's the deal. Happy Meals are about toys just like morning cereal was about toys when I was a kid. But guess what, you can buy that Happy Meal toy without buying the Happy Meal. It costs about a buck. SO do it and stop whining about your child's eating disorder being affected by Happy Meals just because you don't want to say no.

November 19, 2010
Click to view SouthArizona's profile

This is a stupid ploy for more Government control.  Take away the rights of the parents decisions.

November 19, 2010
Click to view kimd's profile

Problem is, SouthAZ, that it's the parents that want the government to take control so they don't have to deny their children, they can just say "they don't have happy meals anymore, dear".

November 19, 2010
Click to view soldier1436's profile

Are you kidding me.  More people blaming their bad parenting on other people.  If your kid is fat, cook at home, why should people suffer because of the lack of parenting of the few.  Think of the precedence this sets, it opens a big door for other stupid things.  Ive never went to a carnival and ate anything healthy there.  Are they next?

November 19, 2010
Click to view TexasPride07's profile

Don't forget about forcing your kid to go outside and play!  OMG, what a novel concept, exercise outdoors and using your imagination to have fun!!!  We had video games growing up, but didn't play them unless it was too dark to play outside.

November 19, 2010
Click to view Southhills's profile

I can't stand anymore of the this nanny state nonsense from the local, state, and federal government. Yes, Happy Meals are bad for you; moreover, I am capable of reaching that conclusion all by myself. Please don't decide for me. If you don't want your precious snowflakes eating fast food then don't allow them to but don't make the decision for the rest of us. 

November 19, 2010
Click to view stonecrow's profile

Don't buy those Happy Meals! Instead, enroll your child in the San Fran Youth so they can report your actions for the Father Land! Sieg Heil!

November 19, 2010
Click to view Ckado's profile

Wah wah wah wah wah


All these people making a federal case about "my rights"


For f**ks sake,its just a lump of plastic. So what if they take away the toys from happy meals.Is it really that important that you idiots have to go on the rally cry and make like its some sort of government conspiracy?


If you're gonna b*tch about something so petty,then maybe the government needs to make your decisions.I know I sure get sick of hearing all of you whine about arbitrary rights that you think the government is stealing from you.Just be glad you dont live in a country full of flies and AIDS.



November 19, 2010
Click to view Boxer13's profile

The whole point is the toy.  Something to keep the kid occupied in the car ride, thats why it STARTED.  You can buy a cheeseburger/Nugget pack, small fry, and a small drink with out calling it a happy meal, they TOY IS WHAT MAKES IT HAPPY.

November 19, 2010
Click to view mjinmd's profile

Boxer 13, never thought of it that way. Guess the toys DO make it happy. I know my grandchildren plan with the McDonald's toys more than they do some of their more expensive things. As far as the meals go, the chicken nuggets are one of the few things my grandson will eat, and it is only McDonald's nuggets.

November 19, 2010
Click to view abbydelabbey's profile

It's marketing.  McDonald's knows to offer toys children will want and they will bug their parents, grandparents, whoever -- that is how they sell a totally unhealthy product.  It's poisoning children, but what does McDonald care about that?  It's all about profits.  Sadly, parents are too lazy to parent.

November 19, 2010
Click to view mjinmd's profile

That should read: grandchildren play (not plan).

November 19, 2010
Click to view aichco's profile

We throw the toy away. Its a choking hazard, and usually obnoxious.  We purely buy the kids meal at a fast food place because we're either running late or traveling. If we have juice boxes in the car, we just get a small fry and small nuggets, which is cheaper than the meal. Most of my friends with kids are the same way.

Although I still have a baby Foz (muppets) that was part of a happy meal in the 80s. 

November 19, 2010
Click to view RPJ90's profile

I remember as a kid going to McDonalds and trying to collect a complete set of toys from the kids meal. I didn't care about the food, and probably did not eat the food. I just wanted the toys, and I'm sure the children today only care about what toy they get with the kids meal. If parents have such a problem with the food that comes with the toy, then think of it as just spending an extra dollar or two for a toy that your child wants.

November 19, 2010
Click to view Evolu's profile

You see, this is obviously just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, now it's a Happy Meal toy, next thing you know they will be putting us al in Concentration Camps.Yea, I saw a video on youtube about that,youtube is where I get all my information, they're just trying to get total control of our lives. First they came for the Happy Meal toy, but I said nothing, because I was nota Happy Meal toy.

November 19, 2010
Click to view Bobington's profile

You are a moron if you buy a Happy Meal for the toy instead of just buying the toy.

November 19, 2010
Click to view dfranklin54's profile

Just another case of a law being passed that doesn't address the real problem. If the food is really that unhealthy, then the law should address that since it can still be purchased without the toy. Another misguided effort to control the masses.

November 19, 2010
Click to view HugzArbiter's profile

I'm so upset I won't be getting any Cadmium laced toys from China for my kiddos!!!   Ugh..Let alone that the properties of a Happy Meal turn my stomach.  It's unnatural that the Happy Meal does not decay.  My kids eat right because I prepare good food for them to eat.  Eating out should be a privilege and a treat, not an every day thing.  For those parents complaining about weight gain and their children...stop feeding them this GARBAGE.  I for one think that the Gov't should not tell me what I can and cannot eat.  I should be able to make the decision myself (that is, if I possess enough mental capacity to do so)  siiiiiigh

November 19, 2010
Click to view shalurkdows's profile

if the whole point is about the toy and not about the food then just buy whatever nutritionally adequate food they are including with the toy now. no one is preventing you from buying your kid a happy meal just one with 5000 calories and enough fat to give a 5 yr old a heart attack.

November 19, 2010
Click to view njeana's profile

My introductino to the world of these toys came at a very young age in the late 1960's. McDonalds had a promotion of glasses featuring the Peanuts gang.  We did not eat at McDonalds; but my dad went every week and bought me each glass. i still have that set. and although my dad has passed. i look at those glasses and think of him. i have many many many mcdonalds and burger king toys. and so does my son. they are fun. and you still do not need to buy the food!!

November 19, 2010
Click to view regio13's profile

Get rid of the toys and no kid will ever want to eat at McDonalds again.  I mean kids hate hamburgers and fries.  It's all about the toys right? 

November 19, 2010
Click to view majesticone's profile

Taking toys out of Happy Meals is not the answer. Everyone, well, not everyone, is so quick to blame childhood obesity on the toys. It's not the toys,'s the parents who take them there to eat. Parents have a choice whether or not to take their children there. Don't blame the obesity crisis on the toys- parents have a personal responsibility to their children to see that they are properly fed-if McD's is a treat, okay then...but if you take your kids there all the time, they're gonna put on poundage- plain & simple. That's a big problem today- no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions-so it's much easier to blame someone else (Ronald McDonald and His Evil Band of Happy Meal toys...). Wake up, people- if you don't want your kids to be obese, don't go to places that are fast food....and for that matter, take away the video games & let them play outside instead of becoming "vidiots"-no one is to blame here but Mom & Dad, Mom or Dad. Period.

November 19, 2010
Click to view Saint1904's profile

Taking toys out will not solve anything, because toys are not the problem. Children living unhealthy lives is the problem, and their parents - NOT McDonalds - are the ones responsible.


Are you're kids eating unhealthy food? Don't let them.


Are you're kids buying it without your consent? Take away their money.


Have you already tried this and your kids are complaining about it? Who cares?! Don't give in! You're the parent, you're the boss, smack your kid and lay down the law in your household.


Are you're kids fatties? Confiscate their electronics and lock them outside and force them to run around and play like kids were intended to do.


Are you a bad parent? Keep it to yourself. Don't outlaw Happy Meal toys for other children because you're too incompetent to raise your own children responsibly.

November 19, 2010
Click to view belghe's profile

The problem is, Saint, is that parents don't want to take responsibility for their children. If we can get the parents to become more responsible with their children (and get the gov to not regulate as much), then I think we can get a better society.

November 20, 2010
Click to view goinhome's profile

Welcome to California, the first United Socialized State of America.

We all wondered why there was a Bear on the flag....

November 20, 2010
Click to view sunethra's profile

WOW! beautiful

November 20, 2010
Click to view hippediva's profile

Somehow, I don't think banning toys is going to promote better eating habit in American children. 

November 21, 2010
Click to view mcculloch360's profile

Unless i fell asleep in the USA and woke up in China.... why are we having this discussion. They have a right to conduct business as they see fit as long as they are not breaking the law. Parents should be the one looking after the kids health not government. SHUTUP

November 23, 2010
Click to view tardfarmer's profile

yeah... theres a war going on, let the kids have their toys and go back to more "big picture" issues. Who cares if there are a bunch of little fattys running around for now.

November 27, 2010
Click to view Fu9l's profile

thank you for that comment """Are you're kids eating unhealthy food? Don't let them.""""

you are the parent who cares what mcdonalds does i happen to like the toys in the meals and if your kid is overweight duhhh its your fault your the parent so start acting like one and realize what your kids are eating and stop blameing mcdonalds because your a bad parent that dosent watch or care about your kids or what there eating its not mcdonalds job to watch what your kids eat

November 28, 2010
Click to view Sasdave's profile

So the question is the controversy regarding the meal toys. Go back in history the toys were and used as an advertising gimmick that went wild. Mcdonalds never used real people actors, well they did they were just dressed as a clown, burgler etc. It was profitable and no royalties went to the actors. When the toys came out they were from mattel etc. The toys are part of a ad gimmick that has aided in a few things more proffit and using familiar items to get childrens attention as Mcdonalds realized the power of children. Yes it is a form of subliminal advertising. Personally I seen the reaction it has had on peoples children; since, the mid 80's. At the time I wondered why kids would have a schitzoid reaction when their parents would drive by Mcdonalds without stopping. So it maybe the food; but, I bet it's the toyz. As they continue to toyz with the parents and their kids.

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