Are Parents Happy With New Happy Meal?

In less than two months, when you take your kiddo to McDonald's, he'll have less choices when it comes to the contents of his Happy Meal. McDonald's announced changes to the classic Happy Meal. What are they and what do moms think?


Currently, kids (or their parents) choose apple slices or french fries when ordering a McDonald's Happy Meal. But beginning in September, the decision will be made for them. The fast food giant is slashing the size of french fries in Happy Meals in half and adding a side of apple slices, hold the caramel dipping sauce. Fear not, though: The Happy Meal toy will remain.

The changes will cut calories in a standard McDonald's Happy Meal by approximately 20%, but is it enough? Will kids be happy with half the fries and a few apple slices? And more importantly, are moms happy?

McDonald's: Love 'em or hate 'em

I'm one of those moms -- you know, the one who refuses to feed her kids McDonald's. Tell me that they'll go crazy and eat it until they're sick as soon as they can, but I don't care. Maybe my "critics" are right. My kids can make choices when they're older, but I feel strongly enough about fast food (not being real food) that it's not happening. In fact, I had a proud parenting moment when Ronald McDonald marched down the street in our local parade and stopped to pose for a picture in front of us. My kids called him "a big clown." Pretty much.

To me, the new McDonald's Happy Meal is nothing more than an attempt to avoid potential future regulation. Remember when the board of supervisors in San Francisco voted for a Happy Meal ban last November? The city proposed that meals containing over 600 calories, with over 35% of the content coming from fat and devoid of fruits and vegetables, should not be allowed to include a toy.

Now all of the Happy Meals options will in fact log in at less than 600 calories, possibly preventing McDonald's from being affected by some future regulation.

I found out that I'm not alone. Other moms aren't fans of McDonald's, regardless of the contents of the famous Happy Meal. Natalie Koprowski, a mom of four, says, "My kids are nearly five and have never eaten at McD's." Mom of five Kelley O'Neill simply says, "Makes no difference to me...still won't eat there."

McDonald's Happy Meal: Change is good

The effort is what matters most

You know that saying about every little bit adding up? Many parents feel that's the case with the new McDonald's Happy Meals.

"I have never taken my son there but I am sure I will a few times in his life. I'm not sure it makes a huge difference, but I do appreciate the effort being made on trying to offer 'healthier' options," says mom of one Valerie Bast. "At least it's a start. Will it tempt me to get him a Happy Meal now as opposed to before? Not a chance. But it is something. Maybe it can become a catalyst for greater things (think: start of a healthier trend amongst fast food chains)."

San Diego mom Laura Crawford is glad to see the new Happy meals. "I think it is a responsible decision for McDonald's to cut the portion sizes in the Happy Meal, and I hope to one day see they do it across their entire menu," she says.

Easier for parents

Deborah Cruz applauds the move. "I don't think French fries should come standard in Happy Meals," she says, even though she acknowledges that her two daughters have only had apple slices.

The same goes for San Diego mom Rachael Wunderlich. I try to stay away from McD's whenever possible, but if my kids do get a 'treat' -- as in a Happy Meal -- they always choose apple slices over fries anyway."

The new Happy Meal also takes the heat off of parents. "I let my daughter eat McDs once a week. She loves the fries so I don't sub them for the apples," says mom Julie Carroll. "I love that they did this because she will eat both the fries and the apples. And I will feel slightly less guilty."

The world has bigger problems

Of course, as may parents point out, there are much bigger problems at play if McDonald's decision to replace half the french fries with apple slices it that life altering for some people.

Mom of two Jill Cunnup sums it up: "If you're eating at McDonald's enough that cutting the french fries in half makes you think it's a great thing, then you have bigger issues than the size of the fry. The apples don't impress me either...I will but stock when they offer fresh fruit. In effort of full disclosure my kids have/do/will eat at MCDs (please hold all gasps of horror)."

What do you think? Are you happy to see McDonald's cut french fry portion size in half in their Happy Meals? Does it even matter? Share you thoughts in the comments section below.


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Comments on "McDonald's Happy Meal overhaul: Will kids want it?"

Stacey August 04, 2011 | 11:35 PM

@SHELIA T i completely agree with you there.

Shelia T August 04, 2011 | 5:16 PM

I believe this is rediculous, and should not happen..Leave the fries alone. The apples will most likely not taste as fresh and good as they should and it is the parent's that control what their children eat not children, or McDonald's. You should be concerned if you feed your child daily from Mcdonald's, but if it is only on an occasional basis, why are so many mom's over reacting and taking this to the extreme? A treat is fine for everyone, both kid's and adult's on occasion. I actually buy happy meals for myself, and since it is my money and should be my concern only, I should have the option as to what I want to spend my money on, not other mom's, Mcdonald's, and so forth.....

Cheri August 04, 2011 | 5:09 AM

I understand their stance as to why they are making the change; however, I feel that this should not be their choice to make. Just in general, parents are slowly losing their authority over their own children. We, as parents, know what our children are getting when we take them to McDonald's. So, why then should they be allowed to limit choices that parents should be making to begin with. McDonald's happy meals have been around since as long as I can remember and health was never an issue when I was growing up. We ate happy meals with fries and were still skinny and healthy, but we were made to play, run, and exercise (as we should have been). We were never so passified by our parents and they genuinely cared.

Stacey August 03, 2011 | 10:23 PM

@ JANIE IMO your being really harsh talking about your baby sister, McDonald's is not the reason shes having weight issues. shes 5 yrs old and obviously is not driving herself there all the time.she is 5 she is still dependent on the adults around her to feed her all her meals. if u really cared about her (eating Disorders) you, your sisters and your parents would make sure to feed her healthy meals and maybe take her to McDonald's once a month as a treat. Honestly i take my kids there once a month as a treat and they are very healthy, if McDonald's is trying to help make their foods healthier then good for them, but remember, were in charge of our kids and there eating habits, things in moderation are ok, and if you dont want to bring your kids to McDonald's that's fine to.everybody has the right to there own opinion.

M Keating August 03, 2011 | 5:53 AM

McDonalds is a treat and not an everyday meal. Having a choice is a great option. And the fries are no worse then the processed foods that you serve as a side for your meals. Take a look at anything that comes out of a bag or box that you serve your family and compare it! Stop letting kids watch TV and play video games all day-get them up and outside to play!!

Mom August 02, 2011 | 8:54 PM

Well, THIS mom likes to order Happy Meals for herself - and, although I am not crazy about the fries and often throw 1/2 of them away I would prefer the choice. Sorry, but I don't want apples with my ketchupy and oniony burger - yuk!

Jen August 02, 2011 | 5:46 PM

My 7yr old moved away from french fries in the last 6 months on her own. I was really surprised to hear her say that she didn't want her fries. I have always gotten the apples for her because, if she doesn't eat them, I can send them with her school lunch but I have never forced her one way or another. Perhaps my limited consumption of french fries (I only like them when they're fresh out of the oil) has swayed her thinking or perhaps the lectures from school, etc about eating healthy has sunk in. Either way, I can only hope the trend continues.

Janie July 28, 2011 | 7:15 AM

My five-year-old sister always eats McDonald's. Now when she sees her older sisters who do not, she complaines how fat she is! She has even told me she isn't going to eat anymore so she is skinny. Really she has a concaved chest with fat on top, but I'm worried about her developing eating disorders.

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