One thing we knew for certain is that McDonald’s Happy Meals began in the 1970s. But who came up with the idea? A woman in Guatemala served them first, but she wasn’t a big name in the company. Several McDonald’s executives took credit for the idea. And the rival chain Burger Chef (remember them?) sued McDonald’s because they’d packaged up kid’s meals for years by then. While the origin story is pretty complicated, we also get a rundown in this video of the more memorable toys in Happy Meals, and the controversy over the meal’s nutritional value.
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The customs around Happy Meals can be kind of intrusive, if you ask me. I recall ordering two Happy Meals for the kids when they were young, and the staffer asked if they were boys or girls. What difference does it make? She said because of the toys. I made her describe the toys before we decided whether the kids were boys or girls. Then the staffer seemed a bit upset that I selected coffee for the drinks. What? My kids already had drinks with them. I still order coffee with a Happy Meal, and just give the toy back at the window.