Will kids love the new Happy Meal?
The McDonald's meal will feature both apple slices and fries, and customers would have to specifically ask for more fries in place of the apples.
This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.
Pummeled by healthy-food advocates -- but loved by little kids everywhere -- the iconic Happy Meal is undergoing another transformation.
Will it change the eating habits of America's ever-more-obese children? Probably not.
Fast-food giant McDonald’s has announced it will offer a Happy Meal that could contain 20% fewer calories. According to a Chicago Tribune story, the switchover will begin in September and be completed at all 14,000 restaurants by April. Post continues after video.
The lower-calorie Happy Meal -- still with a choice of hamburger, cheeseburger or Chicken McNuggets -- will offer both fries and fresh apples, but with the option of dropping one and upsizing the other.
The 2.4 ounces of potatoes in the current fries-only version will be replaced instead by 1.1 ounces of fries, plus the apples. According to McDonald's nutritional chart, the smaller fries portion would eliminate about 110 calories. It will replace the 3.1 ounces of Apple Dippers with caramel sauce (100 calories) that is in the apple-only version with 1.2 ounces of fresh apple slices (about 20 calories) in the new Happy Meal.
McDonald's said the apples could be replaced by pineapple, mandarin oranges, raisins or even carrots, depending on the time of year or region.
The reduction in fries in the Happy Meal is a good idea. A recently released 20-year Harvard University study showed that fries were the No. 1 cause of weight gain among participating adults. Wrote The New York Times:
The foods that contributed to the greatest weight gain were not surprising. French fries led the list: Increased consumption of this food alone was linked to an average weight gain of 3.4 pounds in each four-year period. Other important contributors were potato chips (1.7 pounds), sugar-sweetened drinks (1 pound), red meats and processed meats (0.95 and 0.93 pound, respectively), other forms of potatoes (0.57 pound), sweets and desserts (0.41 pound), refined grains (0.39 pound), other fried foods (0.32 pound), 100-percent fruit juice (0.31 pound) and butter (0.3 pound).
Good intentions aside, the Happy Meal is all about choice.
The Happy Meal remodeling began in 2004, and included making 1% milk and low-fat chocolate milk available as substitutes for soda, going to white meat instead of dark on the McNuggets and adding the apples as a choice. In addition, McDonald's stopped mentioning hamburgers and fries in its Happy Meal advertising in 2006, and promoted the apple option heavily. Still, the apple-only option was only 11% of Happy Meal sales.
According to a story on NPR's health blog, the effort to promote less consumption of fries is another step forward. "We know very clearly from consumer research that consumers react better to positives rather than negatives," said Eileen Kennedy of the Freidman School of Nutrition and Policy at Tufts University.
"We really need the industry to stand shoulder to shoulder on this one," she said.
McDonald's said it even did testing that eliminated fries altogether in the Happy Meal, subbing in the apples, but no one was buying.
"People come to McDonald's and, first of all, they want the choice and the control to be theirs, but their expectation of a Happy Meal does include a fry," Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA, told the Chicago Tribune. "When we did it without fries, there was a huge disappointment factor."
That's no surprise: Kids want their fries, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a restaurant industry consulting company.
"I think you're going to get a good reaction from kids who like apples," he told the Tribune. "But ultimately I think we're going to see a good bit of apples wasted from kids who just refuse to eat them."
And that means we're still going to see kids order the "Tummy-yummy cheeseburger with a choice of soft drink and small World Famous Fries" version of the Happy Meal. That's a quick 640 calories.
More on MSN Money.
I am smart enough to make sure my children eat right. I don't need nebby do-gooders with a bug up their butts hassling McDonalds into changing something that my children enjoy as a treat into something they think should be offered.
Just because there are people out there that don't know how to shut their pie holes or tell their children no is no reason why my children have to suffer through PC driven insanity.
It's not hard to cook a tasty, health-conscience meal for a child. If you don't have time at night, cook the meal the day before. Teach your children self-control and the benefits to staying fit!!!
I love this country to death, and am proud to serve it, but the ignorance, laziness, and overall lack of integrity in the majority of the citizens and government officials makes me sick. Stop pointing your fingers at a scapegoat, and take responsibility...
My grandsons only get apples with happy meals - they usually get juice instead of soda. Good changes, but my children got happy meals on rare ocassion. Replacing fries won't help unless parents start teaching their children how to eat healthy food and stop filling them with fast food in place of a good meal.
I work full time, take care of an elderly parent and have my grandchildren over several times a month. Takes some planning, but I don't have a problem preparing home cooked meals. They aren't gourmet - but they sure beat a happy meal!
I'm glad they offer more choices, but my kids will probably complain because, like a lot of people, they prefer fries to fruit, so I'll continue to limit the Happy Meals to special treats a few times a year, just like I do now.
Maybe we need to work on getting real grocery food as cheap as McDonalds so more of us can afford to eat at home.
They are just using the issue to reduce the size of the fry portions.
You can make apple slices at home in less than a minute.
And no one wants the aplle slices! 10% is not a significant amount of customers.
Just McD Corp bowing to political correctness.
Maybe "Freedom Fries" is a good name for them. Freedom means you have a choice even if it might not be healthy. It's your life -not the Gov'ts.
So hands off my fries!
McDonald's and fast food in general should be a treat....that means once in a while....not everyday or even every few days. I take my kids to McDonald's once in a while because it's fun and they like a treat sometimes. I get their Happy Meals with milk and apples - I don't give them a choice to get fries or soda. They love it.
Take responsibility people...make your kids go out and play, stop feeding them garbage food all the time, set an example for them by EATING HEALTHY YOURSELF and stop blaming everyone else for your problems!!
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