California Mom Sues McDonalds Over Happy Meals (VIDEO)

Does McDonalds use the toys in its happy meals as bait to tempt kids into choosing nutritionally poor Happy Meals?

Class Action Lawsuit Against McDonald’s

Monet Parham, a mother of two from Sacramento, CA, thinks so, and on Wednesday, December 15, she filed a class action lawsuit, with the help of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), designed to stop McDonald’s use of toys to market directly to young children. The suit was filed in California Superior Court in San Francisco.

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said. “But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say ‘ no’ to our young children so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

San Francisco Ban On Happy Meals

This suit comes on the heels of a decision on November 2 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to ban toy giveaways in meals that don’t meet nutritional guidelines or that don’t contain any fruits or vegetables – in other words, all McDonald’s Happy Meals as they are presently constituted.

But is Parham’s claim that the company is deliberately targeting young children accurate?

Go After Kids!

From CSPI:

“Go after kids,” is how Roy Bergold, who headed McDonald’s advertising for 29 years as chief creative officer, described the company’s strategy in an article in QSR magazine. “Ray Kroc said that if you had $1 to spend on marketing, spend it on kids. Why? Because they can’t get to your restaurant by themselves and they eat a lot.” Bergold also acknowledged in a separate QSR column that “companies have found that kids are a lot more tempted by the toys than the food.” McDonald’s “gets into the parents’ wallets via the kids’ minds,” according to an online presentation by Martin Lindstrom, who advises McDonald’s on branding and “neuromarketing.”

And Joe Johnston, who was on the advertising-agency team that developed the McDonald’s Fun Meal, which pre-dated the Happy Meal, bluntly explained the centrality of the toy to the meal’s marketing: “Yes, even then, we knew that we needed the toy to make it work.”

Fast-food companies—with McDonald’s by far in the lead—spent over $520 million in 2006 on advertising and toys to market children’s meals. Toy premiums made up almost three-quarters of those expenses, totaling over $350 million.

That seems pretty conclusive evidence that McDonald’s ranks their profit above all else.

Check out the latest McDonald’s video and see what you think:

Creative Commons - Jim, the Photographer


William C
William C10 months ago


W. C
W. C10 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Randall S.
Randy Stein6 years ago

The solution is simple for some parents----buy the Happy Meals for their kids, take out the toy, toss the Happy Meal in the trash or in the trunk of the car. (After about a week the fries can be dumped behind the tires for traction when caught in mud or snow.)

Poor McDonalds, they are not having a good year. All sorts of lawsuits, bad publicity, and PETA is targeting them for the hideous way their suppliers murder the chickens. See "I'm not loving it."

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

OH!!! I am so SICK of people playing the blame game! It's ridiculous! What happened to holding yourself accountable? This country has turned into a nation of whining, finger pointing, adult children. It's a nanny state! No one is FORCING you to turn the TV on and watch these ads. No one is FORCING you to feed your kids crap. People need to get a freaking life!!!!!!!! Oh, it just makes me irate.

Stacey S.
Stacey S.6 years ago

What place won't target kids if their able!
I mean that's practically the biggest market out there.
So if it's just because of the toy, you can buy the toy separately, even if you don't buy any food there (we were all kids once and it's like 99.9% about the toy not the food).
So you buy the toy then if your for instance at the mall, go a couple fronts down and get the kid something from some place like subway, or Chinese food, if not then buy them something that's healthier on the menu like a grilled chicken wrap and some apple slices (not as good as a home cooked meal but at least it's not a burger and fries), and if you have the kid that's like 'it's not a happy meal' have the people put it in the happy meal box, I'm sure they'd do it if you ask nice.

adrienne anderson

They should sell ones with apples and offer healthy chips and how about a organic meat source, veggie burgers, gluten free change with the times or go bye bye!

Colleen C.
Colleen C6 years ago

This parent brings up an important point. Remember Joe Camel and the Budweiser dog? I do. The first time I tried smoking cigarettes as a teen, guess what brand I bought? Camel. Recognition of the company through advertising is part of a process called branding. My family doesn't have TV, but my child still knows that there are toys in Happy Meals. This parent is trying to change the ads aimed at kids. So instead of criticizing why the parent let her child eat food known to be unhealthy, let's support the cause and begin a ground-breaking process!

Cheryl B.
Cheryl Bresney7 years ago

Everything in moderation...unfortunately for Americans, excess seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Learn to cook mom and dad. And for those dead-on-your-feet-after-work nights, take time to read the labels on prepared foods. Freezor to microwave takes less time than pulling into the long line at McDonalds; saves money, too.

Carol W.
Carol White7 years ago

In Australia there's an alternative hapy meal with a piece of fruit, some fruit juice and something else (I can't remember what it is) which is supposed to constitute a healthier version of the happy meal. I bought it for a child once. Unfortunately the juice tasted toxic, the apple was all bruises, and the whatever else it was was not memorable for it's nutritional properties or even tasting good. Out of interest, do you have the healthy choice range in the US?