McDonald’s to revamp Happy Meals because you’re too dumb to watch what your kid eats

posted at 7:59 pm on July 26, 2011 by Allahpundit

Fair headline? Well, until now, when ordering a Happy Meal you had a choice between the traditional burger and fries and a more nutritious but-mom-I-don’t-want-that burger with apple slices. But it turns out most of you were choosing “poorly.”

And so your choice had to be taken away.

McDonald’s on Tuesday said that it would add apple slices and reduce the portion of French fries in its children’s meal boxes beginning this fall, effectively taking away consumers’ current choice between either having apples with caramel dip or fries as a Happy Meal side…

Critics wasted no time complaining that McDonald’s changes don’t go far enough. Kelle Louaillier, executive director of a group called Corporate Accountability International, said McDonald’s is just trying to get ahead of impending regulations that will restrict the marketing of junk food to children and require restaurants to post nutrition information on menus, among other changes…

Cindy Goody, McDonald’s senior director of nutrition, said that the new directives are “absolutely not” related to new regulations. Rather, she said, they’re a response to customers asking for healthier choices.

But apparently, customers aren’t making those choices in practice. Indeed, only about 11 percent of customers were ordering apples with their Happy Meals, even though 88 percent were aware they had the option, the restaurant said…

“The key is, will this get parents to go to McDonald’s one more time each month than they would have otherwise?” said Marek, whose company helps restaurants forecast whether new programs will drive sales.

In fact, per the article, they already offer leaner, healthier Happy Meals for calorie-conscious parents. The McNuggets meal features apples and contains just slightly more than half the calories of the traditional meal, in case the thought of your child splurging every few weeks on a little bag of fries is too much to bear. How you reconcile that fact with the theory that pushing healthier kids’ meals is somehow bound to increase McDonald’s business, I have no idea. Any parent who frets enough about their little one’s caloric intake to care whether apples are being swapped for fries is probably already ordering the healthier Happy Meal for them. And if you’re taking your kid to McD’s every two weeks, say, you could get the same effect as the new menu change by ordering the traditional meal one visit and then a healthier one the next. See how easy it is to improve your child’s health, even sans regulations or outright prohibitions, if you’re barely sentient and paying the slightest bit of attention to what they’re doing and eating?

But then, McDonald’s isn’t doing this to attract customers. They’re doing it to reduce the hassles from pains in the ass like this. In fact, I’m tempted to say this creates an opening for Burger King to produce tasty yet fatty fare for parents who want to treat the younglings to a splurge — but guess what. Exit quotation from the White House’s unofficial food czar: “I’ve always said that everyone has a role to play in making America healthier, and these are positive steps toward the goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity.”

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