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Should McDonald’s Retire Ronald and (Gasp) Do Away With Happy Meals?

Should McDonald’s Retire Ronald and (Gasp) Do Away With Happy Meals?

Ronald McDonald could be headed for retirement if 550 health professionals and organizations have their way. The Wall Street Journal reports that groups including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition have signed a letter calling on McDonald’s Corp. to stop marketing junk food to kids and retire Ronald McDonald.

Imagine a world without Happy Meals…

The letter appears today in full-page ads in the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Metro, Boston Metro, San Francisco Examiner, Minneapolis City Pages and Baltimore City Paper. Other signers include well-known nutritionists and doctors including Andrew Weil, the doctor who directs the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. The campaign was organized by Corporate International Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group.

Besides calling for McDonald’s to stop its targeted marketing of the likes of Happy Meals to children, the letter also asks the Golden Arches to produce a report that assesses its “health footprint.” While the consumer can access nutrition information for the McDonald’s menu online and in its stores, the letter’s signers are requesting much more detailed information, specifically:

A shareholder’s resolution, submitted by the watchdog group and The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, calls on McDonald’s to tally the financial impact of fighting various measures like the San Francisco ordinance passed last year that established nutritional standards for kids’ meals that come with toys. It will be voted on at McDonald’s annual meeting on Thursday.

Issuing such a report would show customers how those dollars they spend on McThis and McThat menu items are being used to fight legal battles about the nutritional content of McFood.

McDonald’s has responded with its own statement:

“We are committed to responsible advertising and take our communications to children very seriously. We understand the importance of children’s health and nutrition, and are committed to being part of the dialogue and solution. We serve high quality food, and our Happy Meals offer choice and variety in portions just for kids. Parents tell us they appreciate our Happy Meal choices.”

Many a parent (myself included) has found her or himself indeed “appreciating” McDonald’s. It’s reliable, there are Golden Arches everywhere, they’re open morning noon and night and one knows few children who will turn down McAnything. Sure, the portions for Happy Meals are “just for kids” but, as any parents know, the child who chooses the cauliflower over the chicken nuggets is a rare one indeed. 

As for the quality of McDonald’s menu items: If said items are of such “high quality,” what’s the need to market them at all? Shouldn’t the (as McDonald’s claims) delicious taste of its food be enough of a draw? Who cares about the plastic toys? 

Related Care2 Coverage

No More Happy Meals in New York City?

San Francisco Says No To Happy Meals

 

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Photo by Valerie Everett

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109 comments

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4:34AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

If anyone eats at McDonalds or other fast food joints then you are supporting the 1%.

9:32AM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

Leave the issue alone and practice some willpower, instead of blaming some company. I grew up eating happy meals once in a while and I'm fine because my parents DID WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO, which was NOT TAKE ME TO EAT CLEARLY UNHEALTHY FOOD ALL THE TIME.

9:15PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Personally I would rather eat food and would encourage the kids to do the same.

3:16PM PDT on May 27, 2011

end the company? buy it and drive it into the ground. how has several billion dollars? or ask another billionair to buy it and run it in the ground, or slowly convert it into weird stuff. yeh. get morning star or someone to buy it. hopefully people allergic to soy won't suffer.

or make a new food stuff by throwing 50 things in a blender.

3:20PM PDT on May 25, 2011

this is really only the tip of the ice berg of the bad things that McDonalds does without telling the consumers about it.
personally i like to refer to McDonalds as McSatan

4:22AM PDT on May 22, 2011

Ronald isn't the problem. The menu is the problem. Ronald is a very positive symbol to lots and lots of kids and families. What goes into a Happy Meal is another story. I agree with Belinda Lang. "There is nothing wrong with having a treat sometimes."

3:00AM PDT on May 21, 2011

Past Member, just noticed your reference to twinkies. I saw on the TV show, "The Doctors" recently that the filling of Hostess Twinkies is actually made from a PETROLEUM product! Can you imagine? Not a thing natural in that crap. My former next-door-neighbor had two sons, one my son's age, and the other, two years younger. I couldn't stand HER and she disliked me because I worked and worked NIGHTS, so she considered me to be an "unfit" parent. Once, I was in Safeway, and overheard her and another neighbor in the next aisle. She didn't know I was there. One of her sons was throwing Twinkies in her shopping cart & she was putting them back. He kept doing it and she finally said, "We're not buying all that stuff today". Then I heard her yell out and say, "Please don't kick MOMMY! That's not nice!". Now, this kid was 9 years old! She gave in and bought the damned twinkies rather than risk a scene by disciplining the little brat! That kid grew up to be a drug abuser and died at the age of 17 by driving his car at an estimated speed of over 100 mpg & was airborne, hitting a tree about 30' up and was impaled on a tree branch. His Mother didn't even go to the hospital when he was pronounced "dead". I can't help but think if she'd disciplined him more as a youngster, he might have grown up differently, but who knows? Of her four sons, he died, two didn't finish high school and the 4th did, but barely. 3 of the 4 were very over-weight.

2:29AM PDT on May 21, 2011

Sue Griffiths, you are right on! McDonald's was around when I was a kid, and the burgers were 19 cents! That was the "day" of drive-in's with "car hops". We walked to school, we had P.E. at school, and few were fat/obese, at least not like now. The food was always junk, but the portions were smaller.

The "bottom line" now, if you will, is that yes, we're all working long hours, parents are stressed, don't take the time to cook or CAN'T, and the convenience of driving THRU with the kids in the car is too much, not to mention parents giving in to the kids because they don't want to come across as being "abusive" or saying NO to them. The portions are twice or even 3/X what they used to be, but if people use their noggins and make intelligent choices, they CAN avoid the calories and garbage.

READ the menu........the caloric content is listed at most places. Tell the kids "NO" when they want to "supersize" it.

10:26PM PDT on May 20, 2011

Good intentions, good rational, but bad empathy.

Happy meals, to me, are just the same as any toy. It's the parents' responsibility to discipline their child and inform them about it.

8:35PM PDT on May 20, 2011

Quit clowning around....

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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