Muppet Babies Happy Meal Toys from the 1980's, photo by Ursula Erdbeer/creative commons
Muppet Babies Happy Meal Toys from the 1980's, photo by Ursula Erdbeer/creative commons

Sad day for Happy Meals. Sort of.

As of tomorrow the freebie toys that come with fast food – or any meal that doesn’t meet the city’s nutritional standards – are banned in San Francisco.

But McDonald’s has found a simple work around – charge ten cents for the plastic playthings. That way you evade the regulation and make a little money. Did you think the brilliant marketing minds behind the super size phenomenon would go down so easily?

And of course kids can play with free, virtual Happy Meal toys on the interweb at anytime.

SF Supervisor Eric Mar got some dubious national attention for his efforts to get the “Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance” passed… including this stint on the Daily Show.

Happy Meal toys are enjoying some other attention in the public eye right now too. “The Muppets” movie starts with a Pixar short featuring Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear. He ends up stuck in a support group for discarded fun meal toys — another instance of life imitating art?

Fast Food Chain Does a McWork Around the SF Happy Meal Toy Ban 30 November,2011Rachel Dornhelm

  • I really appreciate the McDonald toys- they are well made, I can buy them WITHOUT the meal, and they are extra great for those kids with special needs who might not get to eat what other kids get. I for one say “good job” to McDonald’s for a creative way to put the choice back in the hands of the parents and grandparents – where it belongs!


Rachel Dornhelm

Rachel Dornhelm has worked as a reporter, editor and producer in public radio for the last twelve years. She got her start in New York City at WNYC and went on to work with the national business program Marketplace, WBUR’s “On Point” and KQED News in San Francisco. Her work has been honored by the LA Press Club and the SF-Peninsula Press Club.

Rachel has a BA with honors in anthropology from Rice University and did graduate work at NYU.

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