To follow up on my question on whether McDonald's should be teaching about healthy eating, I found some fun facts about the Happy Meal on a recent ifood.tv blog. You may have asked "what's the big deal about the Happy Meal?" or "who cares about a few ads for the Happy Meal?". Here"s the deal....The Happy Meal alone represents $3 Billion in annual sales. This is more than the TOTAL sales revenue from BK, Wendy's, Arby's, DQ, or I hop. So that one meal (sold to kids) represents more than all the food/meals sold at any of those restaurants. This is huge! No wonder the controversy over advertising for this meal is so thick.
In November 2011, San Francisco introduced the Healthy Food Incentive Ordinance requiring that meals meet a certain level of nutrition standards before being able to include a free toy. Hmmm.. the Happy Meal doesn't qualify. What to do??? Well, McDonald's starting charging 10 cents for the toy and got around that and even turned a profit! And we aren't talking about just a few toys. Through the Happy Meal, McDonald's is the world's largest distributor of toys. With over 1.5 Billion toys a year they distribute more toys than toys-r-us. Over 80% of kids ages 6-9 say the toy is a big incentive to ordering the Happy Meal.
One aspect of the nutrition standards not met by the Happy Meal that wasn't to the "fault" of McDonald's is the fruit serving. There is an option for the apple dippers as part of the Happy Meal, but only 11% of parents chose this option for their kids. C'mon Mom and Dad! We can do better than that! As stated in the FrugalDad blog, "only continued pressure will force McDonald's to change a Happy Meal formula that's brought billions in sales".