McDonald’s to remove cheeseburgers from Happy Meals

Photo: Bernard Weil/Toronto Star/Getty Images
Photo: Bernard Weil/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Many parents find themselves in the McDonald’s drive-through from time to time, or making a stop at a McDonald’s Playland to enjoy the free wifi while their kids frolic on a plastic playground. These parents are grateful for the healthy options attempted to be inserted in the McDonald’s Happy Meal (even if the kids aren’t), like squeezable yogurt, apple slices, and juice or milk instead of soda.

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Those parents may now host even a little less guilt about those occasional Happy meals, as McDonald’s announced plans today to cut back on unhealthier aspects of the convenience meal even further. As summarized by USA Today:

By the end of 2022, at least 50 percent of Happy Meals listed on menus worldwide will have caps of 600 calories, 10 percent of calories coming from saturated fat, 650 mg sodium and 10 percent of calories coming from added sugar. By June, 100 percent of Happy Meals in the U.S. will hit the calorie, saturated fat and added sugar targets and 78 percent will meet the sodium criterion.

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To reach those ratios, cheeseburgers will no longer be offered as a set option for Happy Meals, in favor of McNuggets; consumers can still buy cheeseburgers, obviously, but will have to ask for them separately. The chain also plans to reduce the sugar in its chocolate milk, and shrink the already smaller size of fries that comes with the nuggets. It also “will explore adding new foods to Happy Meals, like the Junior Chicken, a grilled chicken sandwich McDonald’s Italy introduced last month.”

While this is all a step in the right direction, the fact remains that nobody is really visiting McDonald’s for the healthy menu options. While the convenience factor is key (especially when kids are small), setting up that drive-through as a regular habit should likely still try to be avoided. USA Today quoted Jennifer Harris of the University Of Connecticut’s Rudd Center For Food Policy And Obesity: “It increases the perception that these are healthy places, so it’s okay to bring your kids there, but once inside, the whole environment is pushing unhealthy options. If you’re a parent, do you risk having a meltdown or do you get your child what’s most appealing to them?”

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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DISCUSSION

Ravenous Sophovore

If you’re a parent, do you risk having a meltdown or do you get your child what’s most appealing to them?

Speaking as a parent and as a human being that will have to share this planet with your kids, do not ever give in to the blackmail of a potential meltdown or meltdown in progress. If you don’t want to get your kid something that they want, just don’t get it. Don’t ever get your kids something because you’re afraid they might have a meltdown if you don’t, inconvenience to the public around you be damned. A meltdown inconveniences people a few minutes until you can get your kid out of public and does no lasting harm.  Giving in to meltdowns or the threat of meltdowns creates an entitled monster we all will have to deal with in the future.