McDonald's Happy Meal Toys - The Controversies and What's Next (2022)

Mcdonalds Happy Meal toys seem to have been around forever with more on the way. But there have been issues as well for this brand

By Rick Gonzales| Published

McDonald's Happy Meal Toys - The Controversies and What's Next (1)

Since 1979, the most popular fast-food chain in the world, McDonald’s, has been entertaining children with the introduction of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. They have come in all shapes and sizes and included partnerships with well-known entities such as Disney, Nintendo, Sony, and countless other movies and cartoons. Since the advent of the Happy Meal Toys, McDonald’s has been dealing with numerous controversies concerning the health and safety of the children these toys were intended for as well as the general health and safety of the public at large based on the materials McDonald’s was using to build these toys. They have fought through it all and have continued to put smiles on kids’ faces.

(Video) The Happy Meal's Controversial History

NOT EVERYONE IS “HAPPY”

The phrase, “you can’t please everyone,” comes into play with McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Over the years. McDonald’s has offered separate toys for girls and boys, mainly based on gender. For instance, back in the early ‘80s, McDonald’s Happy Meal toys offered kids Hot Wheels or Barbie toys. Parents would even be asked if their child was a boy or a girl so they could include the proper toy. While at one point there didn’t appear to be anything wrong with this, as the years went on, certain parents became less and less enamored with this practice.

This issue became especially divisive over the past few years and led to research that has shown that perhaps with McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, the fast-food giant might be sending out gender-biased messages to little girls and little boys. What the research showed was that there were subtle differences in the language McDonald’s used on their Happy Meal boxes that were suggestive of girls being less capable, less active, and in need of more instructions on the boxes than their little boy counterparts.

What got UCLA sociology professor Kristen Discola interested in studying the McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes was when she brought the meals home for her children. “For example, with the word ‘try,’ I had never seen the word ‘try’ on the boy side. Over nine years, never were the boys told to try to do anything, to guess or to let something happen – so I wanted to quantify it,” she explained to Forbes.

(Video) 10 Scariest McDonald's Happy Meal Toys Ever (Part 2)

Discola then went about collecting every McDonald’s Happy Meal box from 2011 through 2019 that had two distinct toys included in it. She then went about comparing the language used on boy boxes versus the language used on girl boxes. The differences, according to Discola, were shocking.

“The Strawberry Shortcake/Clone Wars-themed box was particularly telling because the questions posed on the girl-oriented and boy-oriented sides are nearly identical, but a subtle difference in language creates a powerful differentiation between the gendered expectations,” Discola said. “Here, girls are asked ‘Can you draw a picture?’ on the Strawberry Shortcake-themed side, whereas boys are asked ‘Can you draw a different droid every evening?’ on the Clone Wars-themed side of the same box. This subtle difference in language implies that girls may be unable to draw a picture, whereas it is assumed that boys are able to draw a picture and are therefore being challenged to take the task a step further by creating a different picture every day.”

Discola went on to more detail about the differences between boys and the instructions they receive versus the more detailed instructions girls receive. In their attempt to quell any further boy/girl Happy Meal toy controversy, McDonald’s chose to reduce the number of Happy Meal toy promotions that would include separate toys for boys and girls and instead make them all-inclusive. They said in their full statement:

(Video) McDonald's Adult Happy Meal 2022 | Mcdonald’s Cactus Plant Flea market #cactusplantfleamarket

Providing the best possible Happy Meal experience to families is among our top priorities. We appreciate and deeply value all concerns from our customers, which inspires us to constantly improve and enhance our programs. For example, we updated our policies several years ago to ask restaurant crew to offer guests the toy of their choice by theme, without any reference to gender, and in recent years have reduced the number of Happy Meal promotions with multiple toy options offered at a time. With our fans at the forefront of everything we do, we’ll continue to explore ways to ensure Happy Meal promotions are inclusive and unbiased.

MCDONALD’S HAPPY MEAL TOYS – NOW

2022 has seen McDonald’s live up to its word of inclusivity by wiping away the lines that define girls’ and boys’ toys. What they now offer is a group of toys that have crossover appeal, and it has become a hit (again) with kids. The first McDonald’s Happy Meal toy offered in January was from the cartoon, Teen Titans Go! In February, McDonald’s celebrated its return partnership with Disney and was offering Disney’s Stitch toys. March saw McDonald’s release Nintendo’s Mario Kart, which was remastered from their 2014 offering. In April, McDonald’s Happy Meal toy celebrated the release of the film Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and May brought even more celebration as the Happy Meal included toys that honored Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. In June, McDonald’s went back to the Disney well one more time with toys from Pixar’s Lightyear and the most recent McDonald’s Happy Meal toy release was all about Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder. This one features Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Korg, Valkyrie, the goats Toothgrinder and Toothgnasher, the Mighty Thor (Jane), and of course, Thor himself.

MCDONALD’S HAPPY MEAL TOYS – WHAT COMES NEXT?

As for the future of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, it certainly looks bright. We have been able to get a peek at the upcoming toy menu and in August kids will get to choose from various Pokémon toys. September will offer the Dreamworks All-Stars and in October kids will see toys from The Patrick Star Show. The holidays will bring Disney’s Strange World toys in November and just in time for the December 16, 2022 premiere, the McDonald’s Happy Meal will feature toys from the highly anticipated film, Avatar: The Way of Water.

(Video) Ep. 2 McDonald's Adult Happy Meals

THE MCDONALD’S HAPPY MEAL ITSELF

The McDonald’s Happy Meal toy has not been the only source of controversy to concern the Happy Meal. The fast-food giant has also been accused of promoting obesity through what they had been serving inside the box. In 2018, McDonald’s partnered up with Alliance for a Healthier Generation to usher in a healthier happy meal and said by the end of 2022, the company will have a much more balanced Happy Meal and they will be using fewer artificial ingredients.

To make this happen, McDonald’s chose to make their cheeseburgers an available Happy Meal item by request only. They have shrunk the size of the portions of French fries in the Happy Meal and they have also reduced the amount of sugar in their chocolate milk. Along with the McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, they are also offering fruit with their meals.

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(Video) The Best And Worst Happy Meal Toys In McDonald's History

FAQs

What is the oldest McDonald's Happy Meal toy? ›

1979. The Happy Meal was born! The box had a circus theme and came with fries, cookies, a soft drink, and a toy. The toys were “McDoodler” stencils, “McWrist” wallets, small bracelets, puzzles, erasers, or spinning tops.

Are Happy Meal toys still plastic? ›

No more non-sustainable plastics

We are pleased to announce that we have removed hard plastic toys from the Happy Meal®. From January 2021, the Happy Meal® will include soft toys, sustainable paper-based toys and books.

What is the most sought after Happy Meal toy? ›

Tarzan 1999 McDonalds Happy Meal Complete Set – $449

The results are in, and the most valuable McDonald's toys of all time are part of the Tarzan 1999 McDonalds Happy Meal Complete Set. Tarzan was an incredible Disney movie. In fact, I watched it again recently and still loved it.

Why do Happy Meals no longer have toys? ›

McDonald's says it will no longer include plastic toys in Happy Meals by the end of 2025 and make the switch to items made from renewable and recycled materials.

What is the adult Happy Meal toy? ›

McDonald's adult Happy Meal toys

State of play: One of four toys is included as "a surprise" with the meal: Three iconic McDonald's characters Grimace, the Hamburglar and Birdie, along with a new "Cactus Buddy!" figure.

Is Mcdonalds going to have adult Happy Meals? ›

The adult Happy Meals are available to order in-restaurant, in drive-thru or on the app while supplies last. The collaboration also features new merch, including T-shirts, hoodies and special collectables. Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved.

Are Happy Meals going away? ›

McDonald's is getting rid of some Happy Meal toys.

The corporation stated that the changes will start now and roll out around the globe so that all McDonald's toys will be made from more sustainable materials by 2025.

When did Mcdonalds stop putting cookies in Happy Meals? ›

But by 2004, it opted to serve reduced fat milk, in regular and chocolate flavors, and apple juice as alternatives to sugary soft drinks. Cookies were swapped out for apple slices.

How often do Mcdonalds change their toys? ›

Great question! We change our Happy Meal Toys about once a month.

Are the McDonalds Beanie Babies worth anything? ›

McDonald's International Bears – $10,000. Halo the Bear – $7,500. Seaweed the Beanie Baby – $7,000. Peanut the Elephant – $7,000.

Are old Happy Meal toys worth anything? ›

McDonald's produced a series of Transforming toys for their Happy Meals between 1987 and 1989 called “Changeables.” The toys were able to transform into food items from the companies menu, such as burgers, chips, sodas, and ice cream. Now, some of the Changeables are estimated to be worth $70 each.

Are McDonald's Happy Meal Beanie Babies worth anything? ›

According to Love Antiques, the mini Potato Head Kids from 1987 could fetch up to $120; TY Beanie Babies from 2000 could fetch up to $400 and a complete set of Happy Meal Power Rangers may net you $300.

Are Mcdonalds toys paper now? ›

McDonald's pledges to reduce use of plastics in Happy Meal toys, replaced with paper-based items - ABC7 New York.

Is McDonald's switching to paper toys? ›

McDonald's has pledged to phase out the use of fossil-fuel based plastics in its Happy Meal toys by 2025. The company intends to use more paper and recyclable plastics in its toys. However, experts are questioning if this move will make a real difference to the environment.

Do you have to be a kid to get a Happy Meal? ›

You don't even have to be a kid. You can just have a Happy Meal.

When did the adult Happy Meal come out? ›

That's right, Happy Meals sized for adults are launching in the United States on Oct. 3 (sadly, as of press time, we have no confirmation that they'll be available in Canada, too). The “Cactus Plant Flea Market Box” is the result of a collaboration between McDonald's and fashion label Cactus Plant Flea Market (CPFM).

What is the cactus plant flea market meal? ›

The box includes a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets Meal—packaged with figurines of the McDonaldland characters and “Cactus Buddy!”

What is cactus plant flea market? ›

Cactus Plant Flea Market is a fashion label crafting original streetwear with signature dye treatments and lettering.

Whats the new McDonalds Meal? ›

The four new food being featured are The Hash Brown McMuffin® (A sausage McMuffin with egg and a hash brown stacked in the middle), The Crunchy Double (Chicken McNuggets topped with a Double Cheeseburger with Tangy Barbeque Sauce drizzled inside), The Land, Air & Sea (A McChicken stacked on a Big Mac, stacked on a ...

What's in the Mcdonalds Happy Meal? ›

Inside, you'll find your choice of either a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, fries and a drink plus one of four exclusive Cactus Plant Flea Market Box collectible figurines: Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie or Cactus Buddy.

What comes in a Happy Meal? ›

Enjoy an easy meal for kids when you order a Happy Meal® with options like a Hamburger or Chicken McNuggets®, complete with kids fries, apple slices, choice of beverage, and a Happy Meal toy!

How much did a Happy Meal cost in 1979? ›

$1.10 -- Cost of the first Happy Meal, introduced in 1979 as the Circus Wagon Happy Meal. It included a burger, fries, drink, McDonaldland cookies and penny toys such as a McDoodler stencil or a McDonald's character eraser.

Does Mcdonalds have plastic in it? ›

A new study found small amounts of chemicals known as phthalates in food samples from fast food chains such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Chipotle, reports the Washington Post.

Why did McDonald's get rid of the Mighty kids meal? ›

McDonald's plays 'hide the cheeseburger' in new Happy Meal health push. LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp is removing cheeseburgers from U.S. Happy Meal menus and shrinking the french fry serving in one “Mighty Meal” as part of a new global plan to cut calories and make its food for children more healthy.

How much did a Big Mac cost in 1985? ›

The Big Mac Value Pack, precursor to today's Extra Value Meal, sold for $2.59 in 1985 (opens in new tab), which amounts to $6.09 in 2018. Even adjusted for inflation that's still not enough to buy the large Big Mac Extra Value Meal today, which sells for $8.

How much is a Happy Meal today? ›

McDonald's Menu Prices
FoodSizePrice
Happy Meals Includes Kids French Fries, Side & Drink
Chicken McNuggets4 Pc.$3.29
Hamburger$2.49
Cheeseburger$2.79
85 more rows

How much is a Big Mac meal 2022? ›

Among the more traditional are Big Mac Meal, costing $8.79, and 2 Cheeseburger Meal, costing an average of $6.79.

Why is McDonald's giving out cardboard toys? ›

But the new plan means that figurines may be made of cardboard for the child to assemble. McDonald's, which has been serving Happy Meals since 1979, said that its new plan to make toys out of renewable materials will reduce fossil fuel-based plastic in its toys by 90%.

What is the Happy Meal toy July 2022? ›

Now available at McDonald's are ten NEW Happy Meal toys themed after the newest Marvel movie, Thor: Love and Thunder! The film releases in theaters on July 8th, 2022. …and Rocket Racoon! If you collect them all, the toys connect!

Can you get a hot drink with a Happy Meal? ›

Purchase one Happy Meal® and get a free, regular selected McCafé® hot drink, only when redeemed via the MyMcDonald's app.

What is the rarest Beanie Baby Ever? ›

The Derby with the fine mane is the rarest of all versions and one of the rarest versions of all Beanie Babies. It's called a fine mane because the original fine-mane version used 20 strands of fine yarn. He was retired in the same year of his release in 1995, according to Beaniepedia.

How much is a Princess Diana Beanie Baby worth today? ›

How much is a Princess Diana Beanie Baby worth? According to the trusted Beanie Baby collecting site Ty Collector, Princess Diana Beanie Babies are worth between $5 to $100.

What is the most valuable vintage toy? ›

The Most Expensive Vintage Toys of All Time
  • Barbie by Stefano Canturi, 2010. $302,500 at Christie's on October 20, 2010. ...
  • G.I. Joe, 1963. $200,000 at Heritage Auctions on December 2, 2003. ...
  • Star Wars Rocket Firing Boba Fett, 1979. $185,850 at Hake's on November 7, 2019. ...
  • Steiff Louis Vuitton Bear, 2000. ...
  • Tipp & Co.

Are McDonald's Hot Wheels worth anything? ›

McDonald's decided to get on the Hot Wheels bandwagon in 1983 when they included a set of 14 Hot Wheels cars in its Happy Meals. After a few decades, each of the 14 toy cars is now valued at roughly $40.

Which Beanie Babies are worth selling? ›

Most Valuable Beanie Babies:

Bubbles – This cute yellow and black fish has been updated many times, making some versions of it worth $129,000. Piccadilly Attic – A cute clown bear that didn't sell well initially, is now worth $125,000.

Where can I sell my rare Beanie Babies? ›

Websites like Mercari, eBay and Etsy are both popular platforms for selling collectibles online. On eBay you can also create an auction where you can sell items to the highest bidder. PlushCollector is another website that specializes in selling beanie babies and other stuffed animals.

How do you remove plastic toys? ›

There are some options for recycling plastic toys

Among them are programs for Hasbro, Spin Master toys and games, L.O.L. Surprise!, and Vtech & LeapFrog electronic learning devices and electronic toys. In addition, TerraCycle offers for-purchase recycling solutions for toys, action figures and stuffed animals.

Did Mcdonalds change their toys? ›

McDonald's plans to remove the plastic in its Happy Meal toys by 2025, the company said Tuesday, a commitment that will replace some of the figurines and cars of years past with crafts, puzzles and games made from paper, cardboard or plant-based plastics.

How many toys does McDonald's distribute? ›

Since the inception of the Happy Meal, McDonald's has become the largest distributor of toys in the world. Each year, McDonald's distributes 1.5 billion toys worldwide.

Are McDonald's Happy Meal toys recyclable? ›

Give your kid's old plastic toys* a new life. Recycle with us! McDonald's is now making it easy to recycle old plastic toys* – that's right, even if they're not one of ours. Toys play a vital role in a child's development, and remain a much-loved part of every Happy Meal – but afterwards they can be so much more.

Does Wendys have a Happy Meal? ›

Wendy's Kids' Meal®

Fresh, never frozen beef and melted American cheese, hot off the grill and topped with ketchup, just the way your child wants it. One of the joys of childhood. Fresh, never frozen beef hot off the grill and topped with ketchup, just the way your child wants it. It's what every kid deserves.

Does McDonald's serve Happy Meals during breakfast? ›

Per a McDonald's spokesperson, the All Day Breakfast Happy Meals come with either an egg-and-cheese McMuffin or two McGriddles cakes — that's just the maple-flavored buns, without the egg and meat found on the adult version of the sandwich — plus a side of hash browns, apples, or yogurt.

How much does a 6 piece Happy Meal cost? ›

McDonald's Menu Prices
FOODSIZEPRICE
Cheeseburger$2.79
Mighty Kids Meal
Includes Small French Fries, Side & Drink
Chicken McNuggets6 Pc.$3.99
150 more rows

How much was a Happy Meal in 1979? ›

$1.10 -- Cost of the first Happy Meal, introduced in 1979 as the Circus Wagon Happy Meal. It included a burger, fries, drink, McDonaldland cookies and penny toys such as a McDoodler stencil or a McDonald's character eraser.

When did Mcdonalds stop putting cookies in Happy Meals? ›

But by 2004, it opted to serve reduced fat milk, in regular and chocolate flavors, and apple juice as alternatives to sugary soft drinks. Cookies were swapped out for apple slices.

How many happy meals are sold each day in the world? ›

According to Time, in 2012, McDonald's sold 1.2 billion Happy Meals worldwide, which works out to slightly more than 3.2 million Happy Meals per day. In the United States, there are about 220 million Happy Meals sold each year, which is about 602,000 Happy Meals per day.

How much is a Big Mac meal 2022? ›

Among the more traditional are Big Mac Meal, costing $8.79, and 2 Cheeseburger Meal, costing an average of $6.79.

How much was a Big Mac in 1984? ›

1980s: $1.60, or $2.59 for a Big Mac Value Pack

By the 1980s, McDonald's was focused on selling meal deals, not just individual sandwiches and sides. A Big Mac, fries, and a Coke would set you back just $2.59 in the '80s, as this throwback ad so hilariously demonstrates.

What is the Happy Meal toy July 2022? ›

Now available at McDonald's are ten NEW Happy Meal toys themed after the newest Marvel movie, Thor: Love and Thunder! The film releases in theaters on July 8th, 2022. …and Rocket Racoon! If you collect them all, the toys connect!

Was there a female Hamburglar? ›

BALTIMORE -- A woman who police dubbed the "Hamburglar" has turned herself in, CBS Baltimore reports. Tips came flooding in after police posted a video of 27-year-old Jessica Cross breaking into a drive-thru window at a McDonald's restaurant in Columbia.

How often do Mcdonalds change their toys? ›

Great question! We change our Happy Meal Toys about once a month.

How much is a Happy Meal today? ›

McDonald's Menu Prices
FoodSizePrice
Happy Meals Includes Kids French Fries, Side & Drink
Chicken McNuggets4 Pc.$3.29
Hamburger$2.49
Cheeseburger$2.79
85 more rows

Do Mcdonalds cookies have eggs? ›

Contains: Egg, Milk, Soy, Wheat.

Is Mcdonalds stopping toys in Happy Meals? ›

The fast-food giant is aiming to reduce the use of virgin fossil fuel-based plastic in all Happy Meal toys around the world by the end of 2025. McDonald's plans to “drastically” reduce the plastic in its Happy Meal toys worldwide by 2025.

What percentage of McDonald's profits come from Happy Meals? ›

It accounts for more than 20 percent of U.S. transactions, or approximately $3.5 billion in annual revenue, according to McDonald's.

How much does McDonald's make on a Happy Meal? ›

Assuming an average price of $3 per happy meal, we can deduce that McDonald's is selling roughly $10 million in happy meal sales a day. McDonald's sells an enormous amount of happy meals sometimes as fast as 89 per second during peak time.

What is the best selling item on the McDonald's menu? ›

#1: French fries

It probably doesn't come as a surprise to learn that these delicious slices of golden goodness are the all-time bestseller. They've been a staple of McDonald's since its very first menu, and people have been asking for fries with that — or just fries — ever since.

Is the steak bagel back at McDonald's 2022? ›

August 14, 2022 by Louise Ferrer

After having over 22,000 customers sign a petition to bring back the beloved item (especially the Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel), the fast food chain finally gave in and launched its return in certain branches across the country.

What is a number 5 at McDonald's? ›

The #5 is the artisan grilled chicken, and the #8 is buttermilk crispy chicken tenders.

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