I’ll take a Happy Meal, please
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It’s hard to believe it, but the McDonald’s Happy Meal turns 40 years old this year. Although it’s been some time since I ordered the kid-sized portion, I still remember the excitement of getting the colorful box, filled with that oh-so-good fast food and of course, the toy!
When I was growing up, we didn’t eat out a lot, but when we did, my hope and vote was always to go to McDonald’s. I know, it’s probably not the best for you, but it tastes AMAZING and for me, taste is more important than good for you.
Since I was just a little girl, it was only natural I order the kids meal, appropriately named Happy Meal. In my day, the meal came with a hamburger or chicken nuggets, small fries and a small drink, with whatever toy was featured that week.
Now, the choices have expanded to apple slices, a Go-Gurt tube or even salad in some areas. Some countries even offer a grilled cheese sandwich, mini-snack wrap or pasta.
And there I was, just glad I could get the soft drink, instead of the milk or Hi-C.
Having been off the kids menu for some time, I don’t know if the meals come in a box with the famous arch for handles or in a bag, but if I had any say, it would always be the box. I loved all the activities and they always matched the theme of whatever the toy was.
I even saved each one, despite having dozens of them folded up, stuck back in a box. Why I saved them, I have no idea, but a few years ago, I decided I could part with them. (Just watch, they’re probably worth a bunch of money now.) Usually, there was some movie or event the toys parelled, such as The Lion King or Star Wars. Sometimes, it was a barely-functioning mini-electronic or a teeny-tiny stuffed animal. The best toys were ones that came with stickers to attach, such as the apple pie whistle with a smiley face (yes, I still have that one).
Eventually, I got too big for the kids meal – literally. I needed a bigger portion to run on and frankly, having seen the Happy Meal portion now, a Disney Fairy wouldn’t have felt full after a trip there.
Still, I think it’s cool McDonald’s tries to make the kids meal something fun and exciting for their littlest patrons. Getting a free toy is still one of the best feelings in the world, even when you’re no longer a child.
And, yes, I know, the toys aren’t exactly free; the parents pay for the meal and a toy comes with it, but it’s like a “free” toy in a vending machine. When you’re a kid, it’s a treat and seems like a great gift.
Not to mention, when I was little, you had to settle for whatever toy you ended up with, even if it meant you got the same Mexican Barbie figurine three times in a row. Nowadays, you can actually request what you’d like and even purchase additional ones! I know, it blows my mind, too.
Sad to say, although I had oodles of them, I think most of my Happy Meal toys have long been gone (other than the whistle). I’m not entirely sure, but there might be one or two somewhere in a box, still hanging in there.
In the end, it doesn’t matter, because I may not remember all the toys I got, which McDonald’s I got them at or when, but I do remember how they made me feel. Special, wanted and loved, which to me, is what a trip to McDonald’s is all about.
Before the year is out, just for the heck of it, I may order a Happy Meal and drink a (small) toast to the meal’s 40th birthday.
Here’s to ya!