Lunchtime poll – tasty toys
November 12th, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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San Francisco's board of supervisors recently approved a measure requiring fast food children’s meals to meet certain nutritional standards before they could be sold with toys, claiming the law promotes healthy eating habits and combats childhood obesity. But do people really select their lunch based on the mass-produced plastic freebie that's served alongside?

Erm, guilty as charged - at least in the past. In college, I hauled my cookies on at least one metropolitan rail line and a city bus just to nab the full suite of Nightmare Before Christmas bundled with a BK Kids Meal. Now I've wised up and realized that most fast food joints will gladly sell you the toys sans any untoward food items, just for the asking.

I adored my AOL Living colleagues back when, but they wouldn't be sporting those sweet Hello Kitty watches if I'd had to choke down a sixer of McNuggets to get 'em.

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Filed under: Buzz • Lunchtime Poll

soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. jj

    A long time ago.

    November 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  2. jj

    I did once or twice, but it was for Muppet drinking glasses and Christmas drinking glasses – got full sets of both of them.

    November 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  3. LC

    The toys are aimed at the kids... their unhealthy eating habits result in higher insurance rates for ALL of us – because we end up paying for their medical care with our higher rates. After working with children, I see many of them eating McCrap, only for the toys. Why would McD's continue toy campaigns if they didn't work?

    November 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  4. Mamasita

    If you can't resist getting the toy for your child, buy just the toy for a buck or so and get a fruit & walnut salad if (s)he's hungry. Done. And cheaply.

    November 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  5. Mama T

    My 11-year-old son is very active and muscular, yet thin. But since he has still not started puberty, he is quit short and still not yet ready to finish an "adult meal." Because it is often more cost effective to do so, and usually better calorie wise too, we still get him kids meals. However, for the last eleven months he has been collecting these toys to give to Toys for Tots this Christmas. (His father is a deployed Marine.) That said, my son has never asked to go to a specific establishment just to get a toy. In his case it's more of an, well if you're going to give it to me anyway–fine. Most of the kids I know don't even really want the toys they get in these meals! Even my 6-year-old, who is easily swayed by advertisements, knows enough not to request to go somewhere just to get a toy... If parents could learn that loving their kids means telling them no sometimes, then we'd have a lot less children with problems period.

    November 15, 2010 at 9:43 am |

    It all goes back to moderation is the key. Problem is in my day mom was at home cooking healthy meals so a burger here there didn't really matter. Today's moms are out working their buns off so they can live in that bigger house, in that more well to do neighborhood, with the fancier cars etc.They don't have time to cook healthier home cooked meals. McDonald's Marketing dept. had nothing to do with that choice. My stay at home mom had a very important job of raising 3 children and putting up with my father 24/7. We have all gotten too greedy for the material life. I think it is time to say okay women of American, you have proven your point, you can do it as good or better than any man can. But our families really need you back in the home for an equally if not more important job.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:21 am |
    • er

      who can afford to do that???

      November 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  7. Jerv

    Ahh, Clappy Meals. Don't do that any more thanks to the ex-ho-friend.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:08 am |
  8. stephen

    I remember as a kid having bins full of toys from kids meals. When i was around 10 I got a table at a flea market and sold all of them I made something like $100-$150 just off of these items. so see they do have some value.

    November 14, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  9. Miranda

    I'm not sure what all the complaints are about. Just how many Happy Meals ads are there on TV advertising the toys in them? I don't see many but if there are, all you parents have to do is say, "No." And in case anybody hasn't bought a Happy Meal recently, you can get one without french fries. You can get one with fruit and juice or a diet drink. So what the heck is the problem? I buy a Happy Meal myself about once a month when I have a hamburger craving. A meal fills me up and keeps calorie count down (compared to adult huge burgers) and I stock the toys away and put them in a stocking with a couple other things and donate it at Xmas time. Leave the Happy Meals alone. You don't like them then don't buy one.

    November 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  10. LP

    The choice whether or not to feed your child junk food does lie with the parent(s). Sadly, too many parents take the easy way out and feed their kids crap too often. All the regulation in the world can't sure stupid.

    That said, the toy-with-your-meal bothers me on another level: why can't food just be food? Why do we have to pair it with entertainment? Stuffing your face while distracted by toys, a play gym or some damn big cheesy mouse is a bad habit to instill in our youth.

    November 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  11. runner920

    Adults have higher obesity rates than kids. So why are we worried about toys in Happy Meals? Last time I checked, parents were the ones driving their kids to McDonald's, so they have the choice to buy it or not. The fat kids aren't going to hop in their gas-guzzlers and go to the drive-thru.

    This legislation regarding Happy Meals is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic because we're ignoring the bigger issues. We in America need to change our whole attitudes about food. I spent a semester in France, and the McDonald's restaurants over there were packed. Still, they are skinner than we are here. Bigger is not always better. Their super-duper burgers are like our junior burgers.

    November 14, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  12. Dirk

    The problem with childhood obesity is not a frackin toy that comes with a meal, its the irresponsible parents that take their kids to Mickey D's every day after school & let them order the meal with french fries & a coke. There are healthier choices that come with the meal, other than fries, such as apple slices, & you dont have to order a coke for your kid either; there's apple & orange juice, water,tea or powerade. My son happens to get the nuggets with apple slices & some juice to drink. By no means is my son obese or even close to overweight. Another thing that would combat childhood obesity is for parents to get outside with their kids & be active. The government doesn't need to punish all kids because some kids have irresponsible parents. Since when did it concern Big Brother what we stuff in our mouths anyway? Oh yeah, I forgot! ALWAYS, because they think they know how to live our lives better than we do. Go away Big Brother!

    November 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  13. Mario

    I don't think the issue is toys, nutrition, or child rearing practices.
    The issue is that the San Francisco board of supervisors has nothing
    better to do than to attempt to control a hamburger restaurant. I wish
    McDonald's would just say "to hell with you" and pull out of the SF.
    For a city with one of the highest per-capita rates of homelessness
    in the United States, one has to wonder why the board of supervisors
    does not address more pressing issues. Perhaps they don't have
    either the courage or the inclination.

    November 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  14. FED Up

    I have the solution SF. Talk to the VP's of McDonalds and convince them to bring back the Hamburgalar and Grimace. They will steel your childrens hamburgers and fries and leave them with only the toy....but then again, SF would have to pay them a salary and put the state of California further into the red which is what the government of SF should be focusing on instead of focusing on a topic that a responsible parent should be enforcing....making proper choices to raise THIER children.

    November 14, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  15. LV Angela

    If you think that banning toys with food will influence children to stop eating McDonald's then you haven't put much thought into the situation. Most kids don't even eat all their food because they want to play with the toy and go play in the Play Land. If people really want to stop others from eating unhealthy then the mojority of food at the grocery store should be banned. Really the only "healthy" food in the grocery is fresh fruits, vegies and meat. Everything else has been processed, injected and otherwise manipulated. So, just because the kids stop asking for McDonalds doesn't mean they're going to go grab a fresh salad, their alternative is probaly going to be along the lines of a blue box of mac and cheese (disgusting).

    November 13, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  16. Cheri

    I have and do buy my children the occasional happy meal as a treat. Sometimes they like the toy...sometimes they don't. Most times I look forward to the meals with stuffed animals so I can get some new fetch toys for my dogs LOL but as long as the nutritional info on the foods is available and I can read up on what my children and I are eating so I can make an informed decision...that is the extent I want the government involved. More than that they can butt out.

    November 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  17. John

    I have in the past bought children's meals for the toys but only because I was going there anyway. If I do not want the toy I just buy the regular meal. The survey is skewed IMO to get a result saying the only reason people buy fast food is for the toys.

    November 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  18. steph

    Why can't people take responsibility for there own actions. If we start requiring government to tell us what we can and can not eats that will be a sad day. The adult is the one driving the car and paying for the food, not the 5 year old. I don't agree with someone telling me What to feed my kids. I use good judgment and let them have a treat on occasion. They don't get the toy til they have ate there food and they get the apples and milk. Occasionally they will get fries and a soda. My kids are not allowed it every day, they do not sit in front of a TV, they move and play. My oldest has always been tall and slightly underweight and the youngest is below 50% on weight. My kids eat the "bad" food, but I pick when and how much. As a parent that is MY job and MY choice.

    November 13, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  19. pierider

    How about a law that forces fast food joints to sell real food, instead of dehydrated food-like substances?

    I'll let my kids eat hamburgers any time. As long as it's ground sirloin made in my kitchen, with bakery bread and real Vermont cheese, as opposed to dehydrated soy burgers, on a bun that refuses to decompose, with oily pseudo-cheese.

    November 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  20. imodelmmg

    You know this whole happy meal thing is pointless and I'll tell you why. Remember when real toys used to come in cereal boxes. Remember how some of you would basically just yank the toy out and leave the rest of the cereal to go stale on the cupboard shelf. It's because you didn't like the cereal but you wanted the toy. Now do you see kids buying kids meals and throwing away the food after they get their toy? No! They eat the meal because they actually like and want the meal.

    The toy is not a marketing tool to get kids to buy junk food or burgers, not its a competitive marketing tool to give the kids an incentive to buy a McDonald's HappyMeal over say a Burger King Kid's Meal or a Wendy's Kid's Pack. See they were going to buy the burger anyway you're just giving them an incentive to choose your brand over someone elses.

    What can you expect though, it's one of those knee jerk placebo responses that just makes people feel like their doing something without actually doing anything. Want a solution it boils down to the parents. Set the example, your kids see you eating healthy meals and scarfing veggies, believe it or not they're more likely to do so. Let them see you munching down the fruits for snacks and they'll be less likely to grab a candy bar or a burger. This is why fit kids tend to have fit parents and fat parents tend to have fat kids. It's not so much as genetics as learned habits. Your kids will pick up all your eating habits. Good and bad. As for McDonalds... well lets just say as long as they keep making tasty burgers people will want to buy them...regardless of the toys

    November 13, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  21. FED Up

    This is ALL SO STUPID!!! Of course the child (some adults) are intrigued by the toy in a Happy Meal which McDonald's has made popular over many years. But the toy is not the only reason for buying the meal. The adults are the ones buying the meals and have FULL authority to elect whether or not their child should eat fast food. The child DOES NOT buy the food they eat. Want to stop child obesity....stop selling potato chips, ice cream, chocolate bars. Why don't the parents take SOME responsibility over what their child does or does not do. How about obese adults, can we blame our parents???? Can we blame the fast food industry....of course, McDonalds forced me to stop, buy a happy meal and then force fed me. GET REAL and GET A LIFE people.

    November 13, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  22. Just say no!

    I quit taking my children to McDonalds.........It took me only a few times before realizing, the kids only wanted the toy and turned their noses up at the food.......The kids were right, the toys are fun but the food stinks!!!!!

    November 13, 2010 at 8:34 am |
    • erica

      Big Mac's ROCK and so do McDonald's fries!

      November 15, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  23. sockpuppet

    I think we are missing the main issue, which is that all advertising targeted at minors should be banned. They shouldn't be inundated with commercials while watching Saturday morning cartoons for sugary cereals, stupid toys, cool light up sneakers, mcD's, etc etc etc. It has a brainwashing effect and they are too young to understand that they aren't going to die if they don't get that thing right away. Every Saturday, if I am going to let my kids watch TV, I have to spend the rest of the afternoon convincing my daughter that moon sand isn't a miracle and Frosted Flakes are unhealthy. It's shameful to market to kids.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:45 am |
  24. Consumer of Stuff

    So tonight I tried an experiment. I wanted to see if a parent could say no to their kids if they cried and screamed they wanted a happy meal. So I asked my little darlings what they wanted for dinner. The chorus of McDonalds was heard round the town. We want toys they cried. We want nuggets and fries they sang. I gently said no. Oh how the tears feel and the shrieks of disappointment overwhelmed the cries for fries. Again I said no, but a bit more firmly. The tears flowed harder the cries louder. Parents looked at me and how dare I deny my precious angels their McDonalds. WIth a derisive sniff at the other parents whose opinions I could care less i again said no and this time in a voice that brokered no argument. And my perfect babies, my gentle lambs, the tempests in my car...they settled down and said ok. That was the end of that. Who knew a parent could tell their kids no and survive. I guess those in San Fransico counsel are unable or unwilling to so they make a law banning it. Would it have been easier to give in yes. Would it have been wise to give

    Do not get me wrong, I know why the toy is there, my princesses proved that when they said they wanted the toy (and I am guilty of it as well if i like the toy). But, saying McDOnalds and its toys are the cause of childhood obesity is silly. When I was a kid many moons ago there was hardly any fat kids. There was a McDonalds and they had toys...some of the best ones if I remember correctly. No kids were suffering from this new epidemic. Of course when I was a kid Atari was the new video system along with Colecovision. Nintendo was still a few years off and I was employed and in college for Playstation. Gasp what were kids my age to do. We went outside and played. TV was a treat on cold and rainy days. There were woods to explore and lakes to swim in. Now there is a power button and wireless remote controls. Yes, I wonder why kids are obese now a days. Bet it is just not one thing.

    If people really want to fight childhood obesity they will stop relying on school gym programs, they will stop relying on government sponsored commercial that say get off your butt, they will stop letting TV and XBox babysit their kids and force them outside in the big bad world. As a matter of fact I can be coaxed out of my easy chair for a little two on one soccer with my girls just to keep myself fit and active.

    In other words I step up to the plate and take responsibility for my kids health until they can do it on their own and I take care of mine as well so that they have that positive reinforcement in place. All in all not bad for a single dad.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      well I agree with most of that except McD's toys when we were kids were sucky. I don't remember ever keeping one past a couple of days. Some of the toys they have now are pretty cool and something you might even buy in a store. I wouldn't have ever paid for the pieces of junk they used to put in there.

      November 13, 2010 at 6:48 am |
      • Consumer of Stuff

        Oh I do not know. The Hot Wheels and the Legos they put in there were always cool. I think I still have the Hot Wheels. The legos hav joined the great collection in the box though.

        November 22, 2010 at 11:12 am |
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