About six months ago, San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted to ban the inclusion of toys in kids’ meals at fast food chains. So began the demise of the McDonald’s Happy Meal in that neck of the woods. I suggested an underground market to keep kids from melting down when their meals consisted of, well, meals.
This week, fast food chain Jack in the Box announced it would eliminate toys from its kids’ meals.
A company spokesman said the decision had more to do with the chain’s focus on food than on the matter of toys.
Luring children into fast food restaurants with colorful toys has become an issue of moral debate in our nation, fueled largely by food-policing advocacy groups.
One question becomes whether these kids are driving themselves to score the coveted toys and the fat laden lunches that accompany them. Another question is the company’s latest ad campaign that targets the stoner clientele Jack in the Box enjoys in its late-night hours and how that squares with JITB’s cute and bouncy persona.
But the question lurking in my mind is why a company bearing this name is turning against toys. Does anyone else see the perversity in that?
This past couple of weeks have been a time of major purging at my house. In preparation for a major home improvement project—installation of central air conditioning—my husband and I have been going through 20 years’ worth of attic accumulation and carrying clutter and memories out the door.
This week we donated our son’s baby furniture, equipment and worn stuffed animals to charity. Yesterday, we said good bye to six window unit air conditioners. Serious purging.
Still, there remains a large bin in our basement that has gone untouched for 20 years. We were never quite sure what to do with its contents. Until now.
I have an idea for turning clutter into cash—by selling Happy Meal toys on street corners in San Francisco. Once the Board of Supervisors’ ban on offering free toys with junk food takes effect, I’ll hit up parents leaving McDonald’s with their kids in mid-meltdown, revealing plastic characters, from Aladdin to Zazu, nestled in the lining of my trench coat.
Will the ban make a difference, you wonder? I don’t know. I think kids get hooked on McDonald’s because it tastes better than Mom’s meatloaf and brussels sprouts. The Happy Meal wasn’t introduced until I was in college, after I’d been already been hooked on McDonald’s fries and chocolate shakes for more than 10 years. And hot apple pie before they banned frying it in lard. It never took a plastic Disney character to lure me over to the dark side.
Psst, need to score a Nemo? I can hook you up.