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December 14, 2021

Should McDonald's be forced to ban toys from its Happy Meals?

When it comes to fast food, it’s not Wendy’s, Harvey’s, Burger King or otherwise that feels the wrath of consumers. It is, as it’s always been, McDonald’s that polarizes the world.

Logos_Par_42787_Image_-1_0_1 Part of that is justified, part of that is because of goofy initiatives like Super Size Me, but all of it, certainly, is not fair.

The latest attack on McDonald’s continues to churn on south of the border, but a) is it legitimate, and b) should Canada consider similar action? Should the fast food chain be forced to dump enticing children’s toys from its Happy Meals?

Recently, a local town in Wisconsin actually took such a notion to city council, defeating the proposal 7-1 to eliminate toys such as Hello Kitty watches and Transformer action figures – the products, it has been alleged, that provoke kids into yearning for the unhealthy fast food combos – from being served alongside McDonald’s Happy Meals.

Similar debates have been raised in other U.S. locales like San Francisco, which turned down the plan, just the same.

Yet, despite councillors displaying reason in their voting, it still speaks to the temperature of consumers that these motions were even introduced in the first place.

It’s the “nag factor,” as proponents of the toy ban are calling it. The toys offered by McDonald’s provide an unfair playing field for parents. Their appeal is so great, so unwavering, that short of locking kids in a basement there is no way to sever a child’s desire to mow down a Happy Meal to get at the toy.

But, what is McDonald’s to do? To suggest they’re alone in offering incentives to sell products would be ludicrous, and, to the restaurant’s credit, they’ve revamped their Happy Meals to include healthier alternatives over the past few years.

So, then, what it appears to come down to is this: is it the duty of McDonald’s to tell our kids what to eat, or is it our parents’?

Do you think offering toys in Happy Meals provides an unfair playing field for parents trying to promote healthy eating, and should banning toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals ever warrant serious consideration?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...