The ‘Happy Meal’ is destroying America
McDonald’s famed “Happy Meal” turned 30 years old today. That is, 30 years ago, the company began packaging food and toys together in order to lure kids to the fast-food chain’s incredibly unhealthy diet.
Since the meal hit the McDonald’s menu, the childhood obesity rate has nearly quadrupled from 4.2 percent to 17 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Hugely successful, every one of McDonald’s competitors followed the chain’s PR brainstorm, linking food with cheap toys, and it didn’t take long for corporations to see the inherent marketing opportunity. Before long, all that disposable plastic crap inside the bag alongside the high-fat, high carbohydrate meals was hawking Hollywood movies, tv shows, and the like.
And the plastic! Think of the number of discarded crappy toys that end up as trash in our oceans. Every few months, it seems, I’ll find a good half-dozen of the things collected in some drawer or other of my kids’ rooms, and we don’t even eat fast food (barring the occasional road trip). The ubiquity of figurines from the latest animated film is an undeniable fact. Kids play with them for an afternoon, maybe a week later, and then they’re trash.
Yes, I know full well that kids love “Happy Meals” and the Pavlovian promise of a free toy. But these meals should be viewed as nothing less than a plague on our society, making kids fatter and the oceans more polluted. Their predatory marketing strategy has kids (and their parent’s wallets) right in their greedy sights. So, happy birthday, “Happy Meal”. Here’s hoping against hope that you’ll be discontinued before you hit 31.