Are you Happy with the New Happy Meal?

By now, everyone knows that McDonald's will be changing their Happy Meals to make them healthier for kids. Starting in just a few days, here's what a Happy Meal is going to look like:

* Both fries and apple slices will become part of the standard Happy Meal.

* They are downsizing Happy Meal fries to a 1.1-ounce portion (less than half the size of the current 2.5-ounce small fries), and downsize the apple slice packet (from about 8-10 slices per packet to about 4-5).

* Apple Dippers will be rebranded as Apple Slices: yes, they're phasing out the caramel dipping sauce. Also, the current pack, with 8-10 apple slices each, will be downsized to a package of 4-5 apple slices.

These changes are supposed to cut down Happy Meal calories by about 20 percent. The new, healthier Happy Meals will start rolling out in September, and should be be available at every one of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

And still people are complaining?

With McDonald's being such a huge company, there's no way they can please everybody. There are always going to be people who think McDonald's is responsible for the obesity epidemic in the US; to them, being responsible means to stop selling fast food altogether, and basically close shop.

I honestly don't think it's McDonald's responsibility to sell only healthy food. Are cupcakes healthy? Is fish-and-chips healthy? How about ice cream? None of them are -- but they are treats that can be enjoyed occasionally and responsibly (i.e. in reasonable portions, and with an appropriate increase in physical activity to compensate for the extra calories). Same with McDonald's.

Do you know what a traditional Filipino breakfast is like? We have fried eggs with fried fish/ham/sausages/Spam, fried rice, thick hot chocolate and egg bread slathered with butter, sugar and cheese! Any Filipino restaurant worth its salt will have this kind of food available if they're open for breakfast -- yet Filipinos are not generally obese, because portion sizes are small.

As a global corporation, it is McDonald's responsibility to be transparent about what's in their food, and to provide options. I, for one, think these changes are great because they are making strides towards providing more choices and more options for parents to give their kids.

Parents, YOU are responsible for your children, not McDonald's. It is your responsibility to see what food goes into your child, and your responsibility to see that they get the physical activity they need. Here are some ways you can give your kids a Happy Meal and still be responsible:

* If you hate the new, smaller-sized kids' fries, you can still order it for your child from the regular menu. But you need to bear in mind that the small fries (2.5 ounces) is an adult-sized portion. That's how much grownups should be eating. That size doesn't belong in a kids' meal anyway.

* If you don't want your kids to have fries at all, you can ask for two bags of apples instead of apples and fries.

* You can ask for low-fat milk, low-fat chocolate milk, or apple juice instead of soda.

* If you don't like the idea of bribing your kids to eat with a Happy Meal Toy, tell the server you don't want it. Or take it and hide it in your purse, and donate it to Goodwill or a homeless shelter.

* Finally, you can always choose to go to McDonald's only occasionally, or not at all.

But you have to accept the fact that McDonald's offers an extremely convenient and affordable option for busy, working parents. It's inexpensive, so low-income and working class families can afford to treat their kids to a meal at a restaurant. That's certainly how a lot of poorest families in the Philippines regard a trip to McDonald's -- a special occasion. Why have McDonald's go out of business and deprive these people of that option? Just be happy that people who are going to McDonald's with their kids anyway now have healthier options!


Air Purifiers said...

Great post! I'm really glad to hear that they are cutting down on their proportions but I couldn't agree with you more... It's not mcDonald's responsibility to make sure your kids are eating healthy, it's yours.

Patty White said...

I think its great they have the options, but I think if people want to eat healthy, fast food isnt the way. Just look at McDonalds calorie filled salads!!

Patty White said...

The toy is what makes it worth getting the meal in my opinion. It makes it fun for the kids. San fran was stupid for banning the toys because what kids going to want to go there.

Elizabeth @ My Life, Such as it is... said...

Charlie doesn't even know fries are an option. At least until he learned how to read this past year. Darn.

You're 100% correct in that parents need and should be taking responsiblity for their own actions.

jenspurg said...

My daughter usually gets the apples anyway, but I think it's a great idea.

Asianmommy said...

Thanks for the info--I didn't know there were going to be new Happy Meals. We usually order one with fries and one with apples so that the kids and share and have both. Now, they're doing it for us.

Dina said...

I'm glad to hear that they are downsizing their portions -- but I think they should completely do away with the fries.

Momma Needs Coffee said...

I think it's the parents responsibilty to watch what their kids eat and how much.

Momma Needs Coffee said...

I don't think they should've banned the Happy Meal.I think parents need to watch what their kids eat.It's not any fast food restaurants responsiblity.I say yay on the free toy! :)

Xuyen Nguyen said...

My view on the changes in happy meal: I am happy they made a change in happy meal, with the options of healthier choice of sides. That is a plus to me. It is great that they decided to do that! I would take my nephews and they would get the hamburger with apple dippers and their milk jug. But once in a blue moon I would spoiled them by letting them have the side of fries with soda, if they like!

Xuyen Nguyen said...

My opinion on including free toys with the kids meal would be: YAY, of course! I do not think there is anything wrong with having a toys on the side of a happy meal. The toys put smiles on faces... Also I do not think it was right for San Francisco to ban the happy meal! It is the people choice to eat what they want!

Chingyi (CY) said...

i wouldn't be too happy nor would I be too sad about the changes, as we see the effort they are trying to make, esp. when the new generation are getting plumper. And at least this would be an excuse telling the new generation, your meal is finished once you eaten finish!

at least there's still the lovely toy to look forward to every time. hopes there will be more effort planned on the toys.

Chingyi (CY) said...

and I would never agreed to the ban by San Francisco, it just gives kids an option to buy the regular sized meals! and a loss of childhood memories.

macdonald's happy meal toys formed 60% of my childhood memories!!

Jenny99 said...

I'm happy with the changes and I think kids will enjoy having more variety. Most kids won't notice that they are getting fewer fries,so the apples will seem like a bonus!

Jenny99 said...

I'm all for the toys. My son gets so excited about it, so it really becomes a special treat when we go. Hopefully he'll stay interested in the toys as he gets older, and won't start asking for the larger adult size meals.