I just read an article that has me shaking my head. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is threatening to sue McDonald's if the restaurant doesn't stop putting toys in Happy Meals. The group claims the toys are "luring" children to McDonald's and the restaurant is deceptively using the toys to market to children.
OK, first of all, toys in Happy Meals are nothing new. I'm in my 30's. When I was a kid, Happy Meals had toys. I think they had cookies, too. Plus people of my generation know who Grimace is, a character I never see in McDonald's advertising any more, but that's a different topic.
I think we can all agree McDonald's has plenty of unhealthy choices. But I think we can also agree, the options are getting better. Sometimes I do opt for apple dippers instead of fries in the Happy Meals. You see, it's not the fault of the toys or the meals themselves. Let's face it, parents are to blame.
Growing up, McDonald's was a treat. It wasn't something you ate all the time. Hubby and I still try to practice that policy with our children. Yes, for awhile they were going once a week with Grandma... but even then, a trip with Mommy and Daddy was special. Why? Because we splurge for Happy Meals. We don't go often, so when we do, Happy Meals are in order. Hubby is disappointed when a "lame" toy is offered. Hey, if we're going to go once every other month or so, we want to walk away with a fun toy.
I watched a documentary recently about the evolution of McDonald's. One mom said she takes her son two or three times a week so he can have a new Happy Meal toy. Her reasoning? She didn't want to put up with his whining and tantrums if they didn't go. I'll admit, that seems to weaken my argument. But why are we so willing to point the fingers at everyone except ourselves. Wake up, parents. When did we decide it's easier to cave than to say no?! Probably about the same time we decided it's a good idea to sue fast food restaurants for handing out toys that keep children occupied during long car rides. I doubt doing away with toys would hurt McDonald's in the long run. We are a nation of convenience-food cravers.
I'm not saying McDonald's is the healthiest food out there. I know it's not. But I don't think the toys are to blame for obesity and poor food choices in this country.
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