Should Happy Meal Toys Be Banned From McDonalds?

18 December 2010

McDonalds Sued

Okay, look, I'll be honest. These was a stage in my twenties where I lived off Jack Daniels and Happy Meals. Surprisingly, those were also my 'thin' days. I have a box somewhere full of Happy Meal toys. I loved them.

A few months ago, I had a McDonalds burger, for 'old time's sake'. I thought it was horrible. I don't know if it was just that McDonalds, a bad burger or what, but I didn't finish it and haven't had one since, nor do I really plan on introducing my daughter to McDonalds any time soon.

The Guardian had a poll this week (which is still active, so feel free to vote) to see whether we agree that Happy Meals promotions to children should be banned. So far, 60% of Gaurdian readers think yes, they should be banned, and 40% think no, they should not.

I've voted no.

I'm not promoting childhood obesity, nor do I look forward to the burden on the NHS from a bunch of fat kids turning into fat adults, but I just don't really think that it's right to sue or ban McDonalds from selling and promoting Happy Meal Toys. And if you're going to do that, you'd best remove all the sweets from check-out counters and signage from icecream shops too.

Yes, it can be hard when your child insists on collecting all the toys from a certain collection. And if that's the case, go to McDonalds every week until that collection is complete, and then say NO to the next collection. Or if you really don't want to go, there's another solution: Ebay. Or Freecycle.

My dad and I had great fun about ten years ago collecting the Snoopy dogs from Happy Meals. Every week we'd drive around to the different McDonalds in the city and ask to see what toys they had until we found one we wanted. Then we'd eat the meal and go home. There were about 16 dogs in that collection, and we got most of them. It was great fun, and something we both looked forward to every week, whether we actually ate the meal or not.

So, to those who want to ban Happy Meals, I say this: if you don't want your kid eating McDonalds, just don't take them. Exercise your parental right and
just say no. Don't spoil the once in a while fun for those of us who do know how to practice moderation and are willing to take responsibility for our own children's diet and health.

What do you think? Should they be banned or not?

TOPICS:   News and Recalls


  • Michelle M.
    I couldn't agree more, some parents just need to learn to be the parent and saying no is part of that! It sounds like you and your Dad had a lovley time making the Snoopy collection. Mich x
  • Liz
    I remember my mum going into McDonalds and just buying the toys when I was younger (I think they were about 50p each).. I wonder if you can still do this, anyway I don't think there is any reason they should ban the toys - if a kid is going to get obese it won't ONLY be because of McDonalds happy meals they will need to be consistently over eating or eating take aways.. In my day we burned off the extra calories by playing outside, kids these days are so inactive!
  • Michelle
    If on the rare occasion I do go there I will have a happy meal as a adult with carrot sticks and milk to try to have the healthy option, I end up chucking the toy away. Macdonalds does seem to produce a lot of waste so from a environmental point of view I would say yes ban the toys. If my kids ever have a happy meal they play with the toys on the drive home and thats it in the bin they go.
  • Paula
    My kids aren't that interested in McD's. If they happen to want the toy I buy it for 99p. I have a cousin whose two boys are extremelly over weight and have been since babies. It's not because of McD's. They dont/cant see the size of the boys as a bad thing
  • Lynley O.
    Same here Paula. My son doesn't like anything in McDonalds. I think the toys are really well made, and they are generally really robust. So when there's toys on offer that I think he'll really like I'll get him one for a pound. Or I'll look on eBay. We got the entire set of Ice Age toys, complete with the ice lolly moulds and glasses, from eBay for a total of £6 including the postage. He still plays with the toys now, a year later. Going in to McDonalds is slightly embarrassing though as the only thing he'll eat is a plain hamburger bun, with 'none of the yucky stuff in it please'. It can take a while for the person serving me to grasp this!
  • Lynley O.
    "Don’t spoil the once in a while fun for those of us who do know how to practice moderation" Ha ha I love it! Too right.
  • Luschka O.
    Thanks Mich! Yes, it's true - it was one of those little things that we could just 'do' and be together. I'm sure there are plenty other, healthier better things I could have mentioned too, like our running/cycling together, but that wasn't really the point of this :) I agree entirely. Some parents need to learn to be the parent. Thanks for commenting!
  • Luschka O.
    Yes, I remember that too. We only got our first McDonalds in South Africa after I left school, so it was never a childhood issue (although there were of course other takeaway options) but even ten years ago, when my dad and I went, we'd sometimes just buy the toy on the day the new toys came out. Would be interesting to find out if you can still just buy the toy!
  • Luschka O.
    I must admit I haven't collected any series since the jungle book ones in 2003, but then they were still relatively good quality. It wouldn't surprise me if they aren't anymore, but I can't speak from experience on that one.
  • Luschka O.
    Oh, so you CAN still just buy the toy? That's great to know. It's unfortunate that your cousin doesn't see it as a problem, but on the other hand, if it's more about genetics, I always feel there's no point harping on about it and just smashing a person's self esteem. If somthing can be done, do it, but if nothing's going to be done, don't spend your life wishing it could, if that makes sense?
  • Luschka O.
    I agree, I bought a set of something or other ( I think peter pan, maybe) on eBay for less than the meals would have cost me.
  • Luschka O.
    ;) Problem is, the moment you tell me I CAN'T do something, I REALLY want to!
  • Lynley O.
    Yes. I do this all the time. It is £1.19 in some stores, and 99p in others.
  • SlayerKat
    IMHO it really really depends on the toy. Some of them are great and really worthwhile and well made. My kids STILL play with the mini Guess Who game we got a couple of years ago. However other toys are cheap and nasty and plastic and end up in the bin. These are the ones I say no to or ask the cashier not to give us. I also reject the Happy Meal box (from an environmental point of view). I would vote yes to a toy ban purely based on the fact a lot of the toys are probably not made very ethically and that they end up in landfill but if MaccyDs promised to keep giving out good quality, usuable toys then yes keep them!
  • Lynley O.
    Good point about the environmental aspect. I need to look into that. I did know someone whose job it is to source these toys! I know that about five years back they were trying to ensure an ethical and environmental purchasing policy. What happened to that I don't know - my friend has moved job since then. I am sad to say that I never did follow up and find out more!

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