McDonald’s Happy Meal Ambassador Is Frightening

It’s been over a month since McDonald’s unveiled a new mascot named “Happy”.  Well, the McDonald’s Happy Meal ambassador is still frightening.

Happy is an animated Happy Meal Box; complete with black hole eyes, a ridiculous mouth, and lanky arms, Happy is the ambassador (or shall we say most maligned mascot of the restaurant’s new healthy Happy Meals. Maybe McDonald’s is trying to scare children into eating their vegetables.  I think not.

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Happy’s job, according to a press release, is to “encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice.” While he appears fairly alienating, Happy has actually done well as an animated mascot in other countries. He was first introduced in 2009 to France and has since made his way through Latin America and other countries in Europe.  But Happy is scaring the French fries outta kids in the USA.

Happy is the “ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating.” He is especially welcoming of the new Low Fat Strawberry Go-Gurt. Because nothing says “finish your carrot sticks” like a psychotic stare from the side of a box.

When McDonald’s introduced Happy to the USA, the internet exploded with memes and photo-shopped renditions of the new character bringing to question whether this was McDonald’s strategy all along. The mascot appears to have been built to take over the web as it continues to scare social media users. When the company introduced Ronald McDonald in 1989, he was seen as nightmare inducing as well at the time. Maybe with time, Happy will grow to steal our hearts.

I’m not lovin it.

Howard Davidson, Arlington, MA

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McDonald’s Healthier Happy Meal Side Options

McDonald’s has just announced plans to offer healthier side options on its value meals, and healthier beverage choices for its classic kids staple, the Happy Meal.

For the first time ever, the global fast food chain will be eliminating sodas from its Happy Meal menu, and instead will  promote healthier alternatives like low fat milk, juice, or water. Fruit slices and salads will also now be featured as options alongside fries on the value menu.

While often criticized for peddling fatty foods to small children, McDonald’s has shown a steady, if gradual, willingness to introduce healthier items onto its menu. CEO Don Thompson called this latest change “an important step in our journey” to promote healthier options on their menu. In a move to quell the inevitable skepticism of consumer-health advocates, McDonald’s states that it will use its marketing muscle to “generate excitement” for the healthier menu options. Furthermore, they’re pledging that “100% of all advertising directed at children” will focus on promoting a fun, pro-health message.

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McDonald’s announced the changes alongside the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a project founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to combat childhood obesity. Coca-Cola – which has been McDonald’s top soda supplier since 1955 – doesn’t seem to be fighting this potential cut to their bottom line. They recently announced their own global initiatives towards combating obesity, which include a refusal to market their sodas to children under 12.

McDonald’s has been making modest forays into healthier menu options in the past few years, but this is by far their most concerted effort yet. The food chain predicts that 30-50% of its major markets will implement the menu changes in three years, with 100% of the markets adopting them by 2020.

 

 

 

 

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