Dr. Pretlow quotes a comment that appeared on his website Weigh2Rock in reference to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program. The comment was from a 14-year-old girl who weighed 230 pounds:
There are actually alot of activities in my school, like intramural sports and i was in them, didn’t help a smidge. And there ARE healthy affordable foods where i live, it doesn’t mean that we buy them. I don’t think she has thought about the fact that there are multiple mcdonalds in every town. For years people have had programs and activities to help obese people and it hasn’t really helped. There are many holes in this plan.
In 2019, the Happy Meal turned 40, and the corporation celebrated the occasion by bringing back 17 of the most popular toys that had been part of every Happy Meal. McDonald’s is one of the few companies that can claim to have created memories for “billions of families annually across the world” — and don’t they know it!
A top McDonald’s exec, Colin Mitchell, said in a press release,
Parents tell us how fondly they recall their favorite toys. So, unboxing the Surprise Happy Meal together creates a real moment of bonding with their children. We hope these toys are something that they will treasure and remember.
Journalist Emily Heil quoted marketing expert Jennifer Harris:
Their marketing position is that if you love your child, you’ll take them…
The drawing power of the Happy Meal depends mainly on the appeal of novelty, from the children’s point of view. From the parents’ perspective, it is part nostalgia for their own childhoods, and part emotional blackmail. In the guilt department, working mothers are a particularly easy mark. They are all about creating blissful memories, in the hopes of having lovely photos to scrapbook, in the misty future, if they ever have time. These and other motivations were studied by Prof. John Stanton, who still teaches food marketing at St. Joseph’s University.
Additionally, some parents also suffer from guilt over the fact that a Happy Meal is not, let’s face it, the optimum nutritional experience for a child. When the toys were reissued, there had already been many years of controversy.
Here is Emily Heil again:
In 2002, two Bronx teenagers filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the chain’s food, including Happy Meals, had contributed to their obesity. The case was eventually dismissed. Other legal challenges include a 2010 California lawsuit that sought to stop the company from giving away toys, which plaintiffs claimed were used to lure children into eating unhealthy food. That was ultimately tossed, too.
The city of San Francisco in 2011 imposed an ordinance banning fast-food restaurants from offering free toys. But the wily Golden Arches got around the rule by tacking on a 10-cent surcharge for the plaything.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The Happy Meal, a triumph of marketing blamed for childhood obesity, is turning 40,” WashingtonPost.com, 11/6/19
Image by Aranami/CC BY 2.0