NOW THAT’S FUNNY
Why is a Happy Meal so happy? Because it has a burger, fries, and a toy. It comes in a cute little box with pictures on it and stuff to read. I’ve lived a long time, and trust me, a meal doesn’t get much happier than that.
Now McDonald’s is changing the menu on those Happy Meals to include apples. Previously, a customer could request fries OR apples. Now, unless you specify otherwise, you will get a half order of fries and a half order of apples. I’d hate to be the kid that doesn’t see this coming.
I’ve been taking my kids to McDonald’s since they could sit up and eat table food. One of the best meals of my life was the first time I took the boys out to lunch to eat. They were aged three and one. We ate at a McDonald’s on Route 17, and the older one kneeled on his seat, and the younger one was in one of their high chairs. They didn’t really care about the food. They couldn’t wait to open their toys, and we chatted and played and it was actually relaxing! I loved it.For the longest time, we only went there for the toys. I think I had the only two children in America that didn’t like the food at McDonald’s. Still we would go a few times a year, mostly when they were featuring good toys.
Then one day, they liked the food. Soon after that, they outgrew Happy Meals. Now they are ages 14 and 11 and when the whole family eats a meal there, it’s over $20. We eat there when we’re on the road, or for the occasional treat. We only really go there a few times a year, and we go there to have delicious, unhealthy food. If we wanted apples, we would stay home.
The restaurant chain says it is responding to demands from customers as well as the heat from consumer groups and local lawmakers over the nutritional content and marketing of Happy Meals. But apples have been available on request for several years and only 11 percent of parents ask for them. That doesn’t seem like an overwhelming demand for fruit.
In addition to the apples, McDonald’s is planning a 15 percent reduction in sodium across its U.S. menu by 2015, and has vowed to cut added sugars, saturated fats and calories in domestic meals by 2020. It is also launching an app for mobile phones focused on nutrition information.
Clearly, it’s trying to define itself as a healthy place to eat. I am not sure this is the right tactic. I see commercials for the restaurants Olive Garden and Red Lobster, and they are full of gleaming close ups of platters of fried foods or pastas with buckets of cheese poured on top. Best of all, it’s all you can eat! Helping customers get as fat as they can for as cheap as they can seems to be the reigning market strategy.
Junk food is available everywhere we go: bowling alleys, ball games, the beach, birthday parties, even school. We have to teach our kids to choose healthy foods most of the time and junk once in a while. We have to teach them portion control. To be good at restraint, you need to practice it. You can order apples if you want to, but if I take the trouble to go to McDonald’s – I want the fries.