The beloved Happy Meal is getting a revamp, and it couldn’t come any sooner.
McDonald’s announced their new goal in a recent press release. According to the release, McDonald’s will be phasing in a more environmentally-friendly Happy Meal.
”Every toy sold in a Happy Meal will be sustainable, made from more renewable, recycled, or certified materials like bio-based and plant-derived materials and certified fiber,” the press release stated.
Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO of McDonald’s, stated that the push for sustainable toys is part of a bigger initiative.
“McDonald’s is doing its part by setting this ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the challenge of global climate change,” he stated. “To meet this goal, we will source our food responsibly, promote renewable energy and use it efficiently, and reduce waste and increase recycling.”
Long History Of The Happy Meal
In the ’70s, the”Menú Ronald” was created by Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño at a McDonald’s franchise in Guatemala. In an attempt to make a more child-friendly menu, she added toys and ice cream to the menu. As a result, her efforts were quickly noticed by executives. Consequently, the Happy Meal became a worldwide staple in 1979.
Originally, Happy Meals featured a choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken nuggets. Side items included a small fry, drink, and toy. Whether it was the toys or the fare, kids everywhere begged their parents to go to McDonald’s regularly. And with a reported 1.2 billion Happy Meals selling worldwide each year, the kids apparently won.
Marketing campaigns for McDonald’s already included characters (Ronald, Grimace, Hamburglar, etc.) to draw kids. In the ’80s, with the addition of the indoor/outdoor PlayPlace, McDonald’s cemented its place in the hearts of children.
Eventually, in the early 2000s, McDonald’s announced a revamped “healthier” menu, which included apple slices and smaller portion sizes. In 2018, McDonald’s announced that their classic hamburgers, often found in Happy Meals, no longer contained artificial preservatives. As a result of current and past changes, and in spite of the decline in sales during the pandemic, McDonald’s sales have risen beyond expectations in 2021.
In a statement, Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of Menu Innovation said, “We understand that now more than ever, people care about their food—where it comes from, what goes into it, and how it is prepared—and we are committed to [making] changes to our menu our guests feel good about.”
Is The Future Happier?
The shift to more sustainable toys in Happy Meals has already started. In France, the transition is complete, and in the UK and Ireland, the shift has begun.
McDonald’s reports that these combined efforts have already reduced emissions by 30% since 2018. Their overall goal is to reduce fossil fuel-based plastic (or virgin plastic) by 90% by 2025.
“Our next generation of customers care deeply about protecting the planet and what we can do to help make our business more sustainable. We’re always exploring where we can drive greater impact, including the transformation of beloved icons like the Happy Meal,” stated Jenny McColloch, McDonald’s chief sustainability officer.
Working together with the McDonald’s supply chain and engineers, McDonald’s is working toward a brighter future. With McDonald’s leading the way in sustainability, we’re having a curious craving for a burger and fries.