This wasn't the first time McDonald's made major changes to its iconic Happy Meal. To rectify this sad situation a presidential candidate proposes The Happy Meal Act. Happy Meals now included books, stickers and toys that featured popular Disney characters. McDonald's is the largest distributor of toys in the world. Ask anyone who grew up eating McDonald's and they can instantly tell you what the most coveted Happy Meal toy of their generation was. A big moment for the meal came in 1987 when the first Disney Happy Meal debuted. No. McDonald's had already begun adding to its kids' meal offerings. Happy Meal toys are tested continuously. Why was the McDonald's Happy Meal invented? They were also in high demand by parents who didn’t want kids “picking” at their own fries. Some restaurants offer burgers without fries and a drink. The Happy Meal was created in 1979 and from that point on the items included with it were hit or miss depending on the generation, the times, and, well, if it was something we could find easily in a … Got a confidential news tip? Over the years, McDonald's has worked to provide healthier options for kids by reducing calories, saturated fat, and sugar in Happy Meals. Happy Meals are about as synonymous with McDonald's as its giant golden arches. Martin Hunter/Sunday Star Times. However, those toys got an upgrade over the years due to several strategic partnerships. 1979: The Happy Meal. The company that created the Hamburglar is stealing hearts. In what year was the McDonald's Happy Meal created? The choice of items changes from country to country, and may depend on the size of the restaurant.In most countries, McDonald's introduced a healthy option to the Happy Meal. Television ads enticed parents to bring their kids into their local McDonald's to get a kids' meal with a special "Star Trek prize.". The concept was eventually brought to the attention of McDonald's management in Chicago. In the '80s, diners sought to decrease the amount of fat and cholesterol they consumed and demand increased for leaner meats and poultry. It introduced milk as an option in the late 1980s. The Happy Meal contains a main item typically a hamburger, cheeseburger, or small serving of Chicken McNuggets, a side item french fries, apple slices, or a salad in some areas, and a drink milk, juice, or a soft drink. She created what she called the "Menu Ronald" (Ronald menu), which offered a hamburger, small fries and a small sundae to help mothers feed their children more effectively while at McDonald's restaurants. The first actual Happy Meal was served in Guatemala in the mid-'70s, when Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño came up with an item called a "Menu Ronald." The company gave the development of the product to Bob Bernstein, who then came up wit… All Rights Reserved. Favorite this Trivia. Now, keep in mind that the American Dick Brams is considered the "father of the Happy Meal." But that wasn't always the case. This trend continued as McDonald's teamed with Disney and Mattel's Hot Wheels and Barbie to its list of partners. Early on the toys included in the Happy Meal were little trinkets — stencils, puzzle locks and spinning tops. However, the Happy Meal fell out of fashion with some advertising partners in the mid-2000's. Chicken McNuggets were added a few years later as an alternative to red meat. Eventually, Gogurt yogurt tubes would also become an option. By some accounts, the earliest form of what we’ve come to know as the Happy Meal was developed by a Guatemalan franchiser named Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, who conceived of the “Menu Ronald” … The creation of McDonald's Happy Meal was somewhat nebulous. As it turns out, the iconic boxed kid's meal was invented by another fast food chain, the now-defunct Burger Chef. For generations, the McDonald's Happy Meal was a little burger, small fries and a little soda, plus a little toy. It didn't have the famous "Mc" in front of it, but it really should have been called the McTickle — that way, McDonald's would have the rights to the name, instead of whoever coined the term on Urban Dictionary. The first actual Happy Meal was served in Guatemala in the mid-'70s, when Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño came up with an item called a "Menu Ronald." Then, advocacy groups asked for changes so … In the mid-1970s, Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño began working with her husband operating McDonald's restaurants in Guatemala. After an initial roll-out in Kansas City in 1977, the Happy Meal made its national debut two years later. McDonald's introduced its Happy Meal in the US in 1979. Since then, the children's meal and toys have become a staple for the giant fast-food brand. We're about to melt your mind again: The McDonald's Happy Meal is actually the creation of a Guatemalan woman, according to a report by Consequence of Sound. Few things are more iconic than a McDonald's Happy Meal. Some even called for toys to be banned from meals meant for kids. The Happy Meal let kids choose what they wanted to eat, giving them a sense of autonomy, and helped McDonald's brand itself as family-friendly fare. Which is why the big burger chain has been so quick to reshape its Happy Meals in recent years to address concerns about the company’s impact on childhood health. Some fast food corporations considered youngsters their "most important" customers, owing to the success of the kids' meal. The Happy Meal is one of those amazing all-American food inventions. Not long after the Teenie Beanie Babies craze, McDonald's found itself at the center of a growing debate. In 2013, it offered Fish McBites, made … In time, Cinderella, Simba, the 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, Nemo and of course Mickey Mouse all made their appearances in the Happy Meal. In 2011, it began offering apple slices as an alternative to fries. The first kids' meal, Funmeal, emerged at Burger Chef in 1973 and succeeded. But critics weren't appeased, even when the chain added nutritional information to its Happy Meal packaging in 2005. So, when McDonald's hopped on the Ty's Beanie Baby trend in the '90s, it was no surprise its customers reacted with such fervor. McDonald’s Happy Meal has been on an evolutionary course over the last six years, starting with the introduction of apple slices into every order. The Happy Meal, designed specifically for children, was originally fielded in 1977 and ultimately released nationwide in 1979. (McDonald's) Today the new McDonald's Happy Meal mascot, Happy, officially enters the U.S. market. This move brought Disney back into the fold in February, just in time for the entertainment giant to promote the highly anticipated "Incredibles 2," which is due out in June. In 2012, McDonald’s made the french fries portion smaller, and it … The bright red box with its golden handles has become a fast food staple since it was first introduced nearly 40 years ago. Unfortunately for Burger Chef, its top competitor ultimately won out. Born in France in 2009, McDonald's says … Don’t miss these 16 recipes for people who really really love fries. Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services. Since then, McDonald's has made a number of modifications in Happy Meal offerings. © 2020 CNBC LLC. Thus, switching from a happy meal to a healthy meal may increase your happiness. The Happy Meal has come a long way. Global Business and Financial News, Stock Quotes, and Market Data and Analysis. In 1987, McDonald’s teamed up with Disney in an epic partnership. Under the Act, burgers must be sold with fries and a drink. Original Happy Meal Box. These miniature stuffed bears can still be found on eBay with price tags between $500 and $7,000. McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal in 1979, and Burger Chef unsuccessfully sued for appropriating the idea of the Fun Meal. These restaurants cater to low-income people who enjoy fries and drinks but can’t always afford them. It’s a portrait of far-flung creative people, recognizing the need for the same thing at roughly the same time. McDonald’s had been making significant changes to the Happy Meal since 2012, before the partnership, as well. 1982: McRib Sandwich The idea was inspired by a child eating and reading at the breakfast table The Happy Meal has seen incredible success since its promotional inception. The story goes that Bernstein developed the Happy Meal based on an idea from Yolanda Fernandez de Cofiño, a Guatemalan McDonald's operator who created the "Menu Ronald," a combina… History. This first iteration of the Happy Meal was the Circus Wagon box, which came with either a cheeseburger or hamburger as well as fries, cookies, a drink and a toy. Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño—married to José María Cofiño, owner of all McDonald’s franchises in the country—created the “Menu Ronald” for children, which included a hamburger, small fries and a sundae. We have been rigorously testing and re-testing our Happy Meal toys for decades. Childhood obesity rates were rising and there were concerns about calorie-laden kids' meals at fast food chains. McDonald’s introduces the Happy Meal. Wait, that originated in China?! Find answers now! Cookies were swapped out for apple slices. “Burgers by themselves are not a […] Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox. Who created the Happy Meal? More recently, McDonald's revamped its selections so that they are now lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. But, if you are going to eat chocolate, do it mindfully. They’re not “off-the-shelf” toys made by anyone else. The Happy Meal let kids choose what they wanted to eat, giving them a sense of autonomy, and helped McDonald’s brand itself as family-friendly fare. You know, like ketchup. Classic Disney Movies Made an Appearance. A combination of rising childhood obesity rates and concern over calorie-laden children's meals at fast food restaurants led companies like Disney to part ways with the brand. In 1997, McDonald's began handing out Teenie Beanie Babies in its Happy Meal and soon found lines of people out the door hoping to get their hands on the collectible. We want to hear from you. From Feb. 2 through 15, the prize inside of Happy Meals will be a book, according to media rep for McDonald's. Dick Brams, a St. Louis marketing manager, is widely known as the "father of the Happy Meal," but McDonald's officially credits the idea to an advertising executive named Bob Bernstein. However, shelf life applies to Happy Meal toys and, potentially, Happy Meals themselves. While these items are still available for purchase, McDonald's will not list them on the menu, thus making it less likely that these items will be ordered, it said. Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun. Offering up beloved characters from the House of Mouse and already popular toy properties was a way to lure in families multiple times over the course of the limited release of a themed meal. Answer: 1977. Consequence of Sound writes that it was designed to "help parents feed their children with less fuss." The obvious question is why… McDonald's has made changes in the past to Happy Meals, such as offering apples starting in 2004, excluding soda from the Happy Meal section of its … "The Incredibles" has become a cult favorite, especially among millennials, who are starting to have families of their own and could be drawn into McDonald's for these promotions. Smiley face is invented; annual licensing fees exceed $50 million by the decade’s end. A Division of NBCUniversal. McDonald's has tinkered with its Happy Meal, overhauling the food inside the box and serving up healthier food options for kids. In 2016, the McDonald’s Collectors Club shut down for … Truth be told, the Happy Meal isn't most well-known for its food. 1977. Kids have been munching on Happy Meals for 40 years. The meal came with a hamburger, a small fries, and a small sundae in a bag. The origins of the Happy Meal are somewhat muddled. Emile Wamsteker | Bloomberg | Getty Images, Disney to rekindle its relationship with McDonald's, lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. Instead, it's often the trinkets inside that have gained the most notoriety. He came up with the key Happy Meal innovations like a toy, putting handles on that cute little box, and offering up extra entree options for kids to debate for far too long. Happy Meals originated in Guatemala in the mid-1970s. The Golden Arches now offers selections that are lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. 1 Questions & Answers Place. We can't blame Michael Jordan for being an innocent bystander of this one. As its customers shifted toward healthier eating habits, McDonald’s began overhauling the Happy Meal. This meant ditching cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from the kids' menu. Food Added May 25th, 2019 by EZ 0 Share Report. In response to customer backlash, lawsuits and efforts to ban toys from the kids meal, McDonald's has promised better ingredients, fewer calories and … These changes led Disney to rekindle its relationship with McDonald's in February, more than a decade after it severed ties with the burger brand. Kids love to collect. Turns out the Happy Meal was inspired by popular kids’ cereal that packed toys in the box. The Happy Meal® App is now based on the principles of epistemic play, a theory that children learn best when they’re engaged in experiences that let them behave like real professionals. Children have always been able to choo… Under the leadership of Bob Bernstein, the idea of a child-specific pre-packaged meal led to the creation of the Happy Meal. The chain understands that kids love toys, … But that wasn't always the case. Here’s why Happy Meal toys are safe: All Happy Meal toys are made exclusively for McDonald’s by McDonald’s own safety-approved suppliers. But by 2004, it opted to serve reduced fat milk, in regular and chocolate flavors, and apple juice as alternatives to sugary soft drinks. Data is a real-time snapshot *Data is delayed at least 15 minutes. At that time, the company began including apple slices in every kids’ meal. Since then, Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Aladdin, Simba, Nemo and all 101 dalmatians have made appearances. ©2020 Group Nine Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. So next time you're in McDonald's enjoying a cheap kids meal (if you want other filling, delicious kids meal options elsewhere, we've got 'em here), make sure to tip your cap to Guatemala. Discerning the popularity of the kids' meal, McDonald's introduced its Happy Meal in 1978, and other fast food corporations, including Burger King, followed suit with their own kids' meals. Part of the change included items….with the inclusion of a small toy. The "Star Trek" meal was the first of McDonald's major film partnerships. 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