Foodie Rant: McDonald’s Happy Meal Kerfluffle

Now, I don’t consider the ‘food’ at fast food restaurant McDonald’s particularly tasty (or edible for that matter) however I am slightly amused and concerned about their presence in the news lately as San Francisco has tried to regulate their Happy Meals and today’s news that a Sacramento woman is actually -suing- them over it.

Here’s a heads up in case you missed it. Fast food isn’t good for you.

Let me repeat that… FAST FOOD ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU.

It doesn’t matter if it comes with a toy or overprocessed apple slices (that take -weeks- to brown in their little baggie, by the way), the food is high in sodium, high in fat and low in nutritional value. This goes for the regular adult portions of things as well as the Happy Meals. For those of you that are now pointing to the salad options in protest, sure…they have salads, but be forewarned…just because it’s called a “salad” doesn’t mean it’s healthy either. Their Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken has 430 calories, 42% of which are from fat, and 920mg of sodium. And that’s before you even add a drop of dressing.

Now, the lawsuit is basically stipulating that McDonald’s is engaging in “unfair, deceptive and illegal” marketing practices according to Michael Jacobson, executive director of CSPI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest. I’m going to leave whether or not it’s legal to the lawyers and courts, but last I checked, we had a free market society, so I don’t find it “unfair” that McDonald’s has figured out a way to market their products more successfully than their competitors in the fast food space OR that they’ve essentially outperformed the loyalty to the family dinner table. You want your kids to eat better? Make them dinner more regularly at home and have them -help- you. As for “deceptive”, nope…not buying it. As long as I can remember, McDonald’s has offered a toy or a collectible in their Happy Meals. I distinctly remember collecting a set of Muppet Movie drinking glasses as a child and treasuring them for years until they eventually all broke. Deceptive would be saying that the meals come with a toy and then not providing one or something like that. They are upfront about exactly what is in the meal and what the toys are. Not “deceptive.”

The main problem I see here is not with McDonald’s food (though I completely avoid it now myself) or with their marketing practices in general or specifically in regard to Happy Meals. The problem is with the mother.

According to the article on CNN, she says she is suing because “We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

Sorry honey…it isn’t McDonald’s fault that you are unable or incapable of saying no to your children.

You are.

As parents, my husband and I determine what our three children watch on tv, their commercial exposure, as well as where and what they eat. It is my responsibility. Not the government and certainly not some fast food restaurant.

Find out the Nutritional Value of your favorite McDonald’s Meal

Let the Espresso War Begin

McDonalds lays the smack with a new billboard

McDonald's lays the smack with a new billboard

I tried to think up something witty here… but all that came out was “AMEN”

Starbuck’s is not all that…. neither is McD’s new McEspresso.  However – if I am going to drink espresso drinks that are not the best – why the hell would I pay $4.50 for one…. see the sign above.

McMocha not McBad – although not McGreat either.

I am a “foodie” and not a “gourmet” and there for, have no high brow aversion to falling for the cheap (but effective) marketing gimmicks perpetrated by the folks under the Golden Arches to attempt to convince me to give up my “Char-Bucks” habit.

When I got a flyer in the mail with about 1000 coupons offering me a free breakfast sandwich with the purchase of a McMocha, I said “what the hell?” and headed to McD’s after dropping off my daughter at school.

I was prepared to be underwhelmed, I mean, why should I expect the masters of inoffensive (to all but Vegans and the health conscious) fast food to crank out a passable cup of Joe?

I have to say, I wasn’t really moved either way. I’m a Seattle area guy, so I have been brought up on the Starbuck’s overly roasted, bold flavor and I have to say, I am kind of used to it. The McDonald’s roast seemed… well inoffensive and aimed to please the folks who didn’t know any better. If you could drink regular coffee, you would find a McMocha pretty good – and definitely wouldn’t be turned off by any overly strong flavors or bitterness or burnt notes. In short…. the McMocha is the drink targeted at the every man.. just as you may expect.

Would I go out of my way to order one? Probably not.

Will I continue to victimize McD’s for a free one on Fridays as long as they offer them? Probably ( in conjunction with my $1 Sausage McMuffin of course)

If you are a serious Java-head… will you be impressed? Definitely not.

If you want to find out more about McMocha’s, McLattes’s or McAmericano’s you can check out their well named site at and can even print out a coupon for a free drink