Judge Tosses Happy Meal Lawsuit Into The Deep Fryer

It’s been a while since we heard about that lawsuit against McDonald’s alleging that the fast food company exploits children by using toys and other kid-centric marketing techniques to get them to want Happy Meals. But earlier today, a judge in San Francisco dismissed the suit.

The lawsuit had been bought by a mom in California, in conjunction with the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The plaintiff had hoped to stop McDonald’s from putting toys and other freebies in Happy Meals in California.

McDonald’s had previously argued that the case should be thrown out of court because it’s generally parents, and not small children, who have the final say on food purchases.

According to Reuters, the judge dismissed the lawsuit without giving the plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended lawsuit.

“We are proud of our Happy Meals and will vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food,” said a rep for the restaurant chain.

Meanwhile, the CSPI says this is not the end of the road for them:

In time, the practice of using toys to market junk food will seem as inappropriate and anachronistic as lead paint, child labor, and asbestos.

Resolving this question will not hinge on whether the plaintiff in this lawsuit suffered a monetary loss in this case, though we maintain she did. We’re studying the judge’s decision and will discuss with the plaintiff whether to appeal. We will continue to urge all branches of government, including the courts, to stand up for parents and protect children from unscrupulous marketing techniques.


Edit Your Comment

  1. belsonc says:

    Monetary loss? Of what, $5.50 at a time?

  2. Extended-Warranty says:

    Commence discussion on how this was the result of corrupt politicians, corporate executives, and chinese factory owners are running this country!

  3. Cerne says:

    Well good. Though a long, costly, losing case would hopefully have done massive harm to the CSPI so that’s too bad.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    We all know that these companies advertise to children and that the children will beg their parents to buy it for them and if corporations say otherwise then they are full of sh*t. With that said, since we know that children are their targets, it is the parents responsibility to practice the mantra of “everything in moderation” and watching what their kids eat since they are usually the ones paying for the “food”.

    This ends up being an eternal battle: the corporation saying it is the parents responsibility to keep their kids away from junk food while ceaselessly trying to lure the same kids in by any means possible.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      By the way, why the 10:30PM posting? Insomnia
      after the Worst Company in America marathon?

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      A lot of that can also be mitigated by not allowing children to view all that advertising in the first place.

      I don’t disagree that ads are sometimes targeted at children. But just as parents must decide about food choices, they also must decide about letting their kids watch TV and what to teach them about advertising and its purpose. It’s easier than ever now to monitor and filter what your kids are allowed to watch and the amount of time they can spend in front of the TV.

      • smo0 says:

        Personally, I don’t want a lick of TV. Even if there’s bullshit ads on youtube and the like – I mute it and walk away.

        I remember the big ordeal when celebs like Madonna came out and said she wouldn’t allow her daughter to watch TV – back then, people were freaking out on the elitism.

        Now (15+ years after that fact), many other people are jumping on this.

        You can dl shows without computers, you don’t even need a tv.

        Bitch about pirating all you want – but between raping cable companies and screaming ads in your face (mostly poorly made) it’s no wonder people turn to the internet.

    • StarKillerX says:

      I’ve got a news flash for you, and I’m not sure why this should surprise anybut, but ALL marketing has a target audience.

      I’m so tired of hearing people whine “Oh their targeting _________!” Fill in the blank yourself with most any group and there is likely been complaints and/or lawsuits about it.

      Parents are supposed to be the governor system when keeps a childs wants/desires from running wild, but for some parents I guess that’s to much to ask and instead they need a nanny state to take care of their child since they can’t be bothered to do it themselves.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        We all know advertising has a target audience, it’s when they say that we are not targeting kids that they are lying. Cartoon clowns don’t sway my buying decisions (I know fast food isn’t the healthiest food option) but they sure can sway a kid to want McDonalds and they don’t know any better.

    • Dyscord says:

      The amusing thing is, yes, McDs puts toys in with their happy meals. However, if the child just wants the toy, you can just buy it outright from them most of the time. At least you could when I was a kid.

      At any rate, this wasnt need in the first place. If you can’t say “no” to your kids, then you have a problem. Hell, I grew up in the late 80s…back then, EVERYTHING was marketed to kids.

    • alana0j says:

      Because parents just can’t say no to their kids. Ever. Clearly I need to go out and buy every stupid toy my 4 year old sees on TV and says she wants, and every time we drive past McDonald’s and she asks me to stop there because she wants the toy she saw on TV I MUST stop and buy it for her. Then turn around and sue Mattel, McDonald’s and everyone else for marketing toward my daughter.

  5. 2 Replies says:

    It was a frivolous lawsuit from a power-hungry woman who believes she knows better than everyone else, and that HER decisions should be law.

    • poco says:

      Agreed. Parents ultimately have the last word in what their children eat, not fast food companies. What. you can’t say no when your kid whines for a happy meal?

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Totally agreed. So glad the judge didn’t give in to CSPI’s idiocy.

  6. Rod Rescueman says:

    “In time, the practice of using toys to market junk food will seem as inappropriate and anachronistic as lead paint, child labor, and asbestos.”

    You mean they used lead paint, child labor, and asbestos to market junk food??????

    • Coyoty says:

      Maybe if the toy came from China.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      But lead paint holds bright colors better, asbsestos does a great job as a fire retardent, and child laborers were excellent at scurrying under weaving machines in 19th century textile mills since they were so much smaller and quicker than adults. I just had to point this out.


  7. Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

    Bish, plz. Be a parent. Learn how to say no and mean it. Your precious little snowflake can’t eat the unhealthy food if you won’t buy it for her.

    This woman is no better than those mindless, entitled, I want to have it all types that populate Park Slope.

    Be a parent, I’m begging you. Don’t be your child’s friend.

    • Southern says:

      That’s it exactly. If McDonald’s doesn’t HAVE a Happy Meal, then this woman doesn’t have to tell her kid “No”.

      Wonder what her child will think of her in a few years once she understands what her mother tried to do.

  8. theconversationalist says:

    The CSPI is the Center for Science in THEIR OWN Interest. Going after McDonalds about happy meal toys while supporting the corn refiners quest to take the public stench off High Fructose Corn Syrup, going so far as to jointly lobby the White House to take out the provisions that would have banned HFCS from school lunches, is ridiculous.

    • cspschofield says:

      Agreed. My gut reaction after their first few press releases devolved to “If CSPI is on side A, side A is in the wrong”. They have yet to change my mind. I suspect that they were started by somebody who wanted to be the Ralph Nader of food issues.

    • Cerne says:

      I only disagree that you still let them use the word science.

  9. LBD "Nytetrayn" says:

    “McDonald’s had previously argued that the case should be thrown out of court because it’s generally parents, and not small children, who have the final say on food purchases.”

    I don’t know what they’re talking about; my kids buy all my food. I even have them ransack their classmates’ book bags for money during naptime while the teachers are out having a smoke.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      I tried that with my dogs but it didn’t work. They were just keeping the money and bringing me stuff out of the neighbors’ trash.

  10. Psycho Conductor says:

    “I can’t control my child….hmmm…I KNOW! I’ll let the government do it for me!”

  11. Kuri says:

    Parents like her are why playgrounds are disappearing.

  12. scottd34 says:

    Be a parent. Mcdonalds has been doing this for many decades, and we all grew up fine because our parents knew how to say no.. something that is sadly missing from many parents of my generation.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Yea, how long have these been around…like 30+ years? Millions of children have turned out just fine in the long run, thank you.

    • bluline says:

      Wouldn’t it be easier for this parent to just say “no” rather than to waste so much time filing a lawsuit that would have relieved her of that awful responsibility?

  13. Bativac says:

    Actual conversation from my household:

    ME: Mom, can we go to McDonalds?! I want the Batman Happy Meal!

    MOM: No, we went to McDonalds last week. We’re having fish sticks tonight.

    ME: …Am I being punished for something?

    THE POINT IS, companies are going to advertise their products. Can I file suit against Apple for running commercials that make their iPad look cool and, thus, my wife threatens me until I buy one for her? Be a parent and raise your kid to figure out how to resist the siren song of the Hamburglar.

    I’ll never forgive these people for causing McDonalds to sell off McDonaldland to Big Oil.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      There was a study done where kids preferred eating “McDonalds Carrots” compared to
      “regular carrots”

      CHICAGO ‚Äî Anything made by McDonald’s tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children.

      Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids when they were wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches.

      The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald’s foods in name-brand and unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test.

      “You see a McDonald’s label and kids start salivating,” said Diane Levin, a childhood development specialist who campaigns against advertising to kids. She had no role in the research.

      Levin said it was “the first study I know of that has shown so simply and clearly what’s going on with (marketing to) young children.”


  14. Malik says:

    I don’t know who that judge was, but I hope you guys in San Fran rally to re-elect him.

    It is so rare to find that level of competence in the government

  15. jacobs cows says:

    Tighty whiteys too tight.

    • miss_j_bean says:

      Gowny Brownys?
      I just spent way too long trying to find a synonym of loose that rhymed with a color.

  16. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Helicopter parenting at its worst. Instead of watching out for her kid herself, she’s the type that wants to make everything against the law or banish it so her child doesn’t have to even face the possibility of being told no. Parents like her are the reason why my kid can’t play on a really cool playground anymore, why seeing kids walking to school is rare, and why some people have actually suggested that kids shouldn’t have candles on their birthday cake b/c they could get burned. I loathe people like her.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      This. There’s a two letter word in the English language that will take care of her Happy Meal problem. It’s “No”. Also, televisions have off buttons and parental control features. Use them.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      “…some people have actually suggested that kids shouldn’t have candles on their birthday cake b/c they could get burned”

      ARE YOU SERIOUS?????

      Who’s the nimrod that suggested that!?! Why, some of the best moments of my childhood were spent playing with fire!

  17. Hi_Hello says:

    wow.. comparing toys in junk food as poison (lead and asbestos)….

  18. quirkyrachel says:

    You know, I’m not a fan in general of McDonald’s, but I have to agree with them on this one. Unless McDonald’s is actually taking money from 5 years olds and giving them happy meals in return, it’s the parents who are buying them.

  19. Syntania says:

    And then, these same “parents” will wonder how it happened that the government says, “You know, we’re sick of passing these laws to parent your kids because you refuse to, so we are now taking all federal funds related to child care and schooling to build Child Development and Education centers, where every newborn will be surrendered to after birth to be raised by government-trained experts until they reach adulthood. Since parents nowadays seem to be incapable of raising children without the government’s aid, we will just do the job completely and cut the breeding machines…oh, excuse me, I meant the parents…out of the equation. Problem solved.”

    Yeesh. Try to get someone to do your job for you, then don’t be surprised if they decide to take it over completely.

  20. Galium says:

    The center for science is not very scientific. If McD’s goes down for the toys so doesn’t every other manufacturer that does the same as McD’s. Kellogg‚Äôs, General Mills, Ben & Jerry’s, Lego etc. Anyone who offers a free toy/anything to entice their product will be subject to this court battle outcome. Ergo no more freebee‚Äôs for anyone. The judge ruled correctly. Do the leftist people at CSPI have HUYAS (head up you aXX syndrome)? They are creating as many problems for this country as those on the right do with some of their idiotic dribble. It would seem that their legal monies would be better spent getting hot meals for children then trying a stupid lawsuit. CSPI people are about as bright as the birthers and just as “control someone else’s life” as any Judeo-Christian evangelical religious group.

  21. miss_j_bean says:

    The people who think this lawsuit are good are idiots.
    “This idea offends me, therefore no one else should be able to buy it, either.”
    If you don’t want a happy meal, don’t buy a happy meal. Don’t you dare tell me I can’t buy a happy meal.

  22. Jimmy37 says:

    What? A judge in San Francisco threw out a meritless law suit claiming to worry about the welfare of children, that was brought against a large, heartless, greedy corporation??

    What was that judge smoking? He ought to pass it around to the rest of California. There might be an attack of common sense!

  23. alexwade says:

    This reminds me of a picture I saw a long time ago. I think it is very funny. Someone created tis picture after San Francisco banned toys in happy meals. I still laugh at this picture.


  24. Aliciaz777 says:

    There’s absolutely no need to sue to get toys removed from Happy Meals. If a parent doesn’t want their kid having McDonald’s, all they have to do is say “No”. Why are some parents so afraid to tell their children “No”?

  25. Emily says:

    Glad to see this killjoy effort struck down.

    Comparing Happy Meal Toys to child labor… I think they’ve just invented a sub-provision to Godwin’s Law.