CSPI Wants To Make Your McDonald's Happy Meal Sad

Perennial buzzkills at the Center for Science in the Public Interest have decided to set their sights on McDonald’s, issuing the fast food giant an ultimatum: Stop putting toys in their Happy Meals in the next 30 days or face a lawsuit.

Says the CSPI’s Executive Director, Debbie Downer (not his real name):

Tempting kids with toys is unfair and deceptive, both to kids who don’t understand the concept of advertising, and to their parents, who have to put up with their nagging children.

The CSPI’s lawyer calls McDonald’s time-honored practice of using toys and other colorful plastic doodads to entice young children to buy Happy Meals “creepy and predatory” which he feels warrants an injunction.

“McDonald’s practice of dangling toys in front of children is illegal, regardless of what meal the child eventually gets,” the lawyer wrote in a letter sent yesterday to McDonald’s executives. “Not only does the practice mobilize ‘pester power,’ but it also imprints on developing minds brand loyalty for McDonald’s.”

Not surprisingly, McDonald’s isn’t taking this very seriously.

“Getting a toy is just one part of a fun, family experience at McDonald’s,” said a spokesman for the Golden Arches.

As reported in April, California’s Santa Clara County recently passed a law forbidding toys in some Happy Meals at don’t meet the county’s calorie and sodium requirements.

As someone who wouldn’t eat McDonald’s hamburgers when I was a youngster, I can honestly attest that a toy-filled Happy Meal was the only way I would agree to eat at McDonald’s with my less discerning older siblings. So my 5-year-old self would not be pleased with the idea of ditching them.

What about you parents out there? How do you see your children reacting to a Happy Meal that contains no prize?

Consumer group targets McDonald’s Happy Meal toys [Reuters]