September 28, 2009

Damn, But I Hate You, Happy Meals

It's been a couple of years since some random punk and his dad at the McTable next to us told the kid that there are supposed to be toys in a Happy Meal. [As payback, I told him about the 2/$1 pies.]

Otherwise, whenever the need to eat at McD's arose, I'd order the Happy Meal "sin jugete" [seen who-geh-teh], without toys. Maybe if we lived in Hong Kong or Tokyo, where the McDonald's toys are tiny, collectible masterpieces, it'd be different, but here in the US, they're invariably crap. And they just cause grief and have to be thrown away later, which is wasteful.

And then there are those days when the kid's home sick from school for the fifth day in two weeks, and you have to go out because you're out of diapers, overdue for an oil change, and needing to go to the bank, and you just don't want to make an issue out of it in the drivethrough,

So you give in, only now you have to get two Happy Meals. Because even though the kid doesn't eat fries, and K2 has no concept of a Happy Meal at all, she does have a highly developed sensitivity to sibling injustice. So forget decoupling, you're now literally buying the damn food because of the toy.

And then you pull up, and you see it is. freaking. Barbie. So that ain't gonna happen, scream all you want, kids. But the kid already knows that and goes, "I don't even want Barbie. Can we get the car?" Hot Wheels.

And so you order, and you say, "with the cars," which is off-script, apparently, because the lady asks if it's for a boy or a girl.


We pretty much reserve the Happiness for road trips, but I gave in recently while my husband was on an 11-day trip. When we got home, we discovered that instead of "girl" or "boy", we'd been given the "exercise" video that is supposed to be given out with salads (who knew). The kids insisted on watching it because it had come with the Happy Meal. It featured weird digitized characters, and they were quickly disenchanted. Naturally a return trip to complain was completely impractical, but I guess it was better than an inevitably breaking Barbie toy.

Ha! I H.A.T.E. McDonalds, and haven't eaten at one in about 5 years. My little devil knows that, and almost never asks. Sometimes he charms his way into getting my wife to take him when I'm out.

Generally though, McD's is a 'Grandma & Grandpa' treat.

I'd much rather take him to get some real food and go buy him a Playmobil Special, or an actual, non-shitty, comes-with-screen-printing and-not-lame-o stickers, Hot Wheels car.

I have yet to have anyone adequately explain to me how McDonalds is food, much less good food. (incidentally, I feel the same about almost all other fast/food? type places as well, mcd's is just the greatest offender. )

I can't say that I am in the hate McD's camp, as I enjoy a good QPC once in a while, but I do hate the happy meal machine. My wife has started telling the person behind the counter that we need two toys with our happy meal and they always seem to give in. That way our 14 month old isn't wolfing down a cheeseburger along side her big sis, but still gets the joy of a plastic bed with the covers rolled down and Ronald in it. Really.

You should've heard the fuss when a friend's 2 year old son decided he wanted the doll instead of the appropriate "boy" plastic. Huge scene, including statements like "But he's a boy!" and "He looks like a boy, isn't he a boy?" until finally a manager had to be called to get the "girl" toy for the poor little guy.

Or the flipside...

You're on the Jersey Turnpike coming back from summer vacation and the rest areas are all you've got for meal options. Except the rest areas are all packed beyond belief. What do they have for toy options at the BK? GI Joe.

Once upon a time, the mere totem-like idea of the toy would have been valuable enough, even for my pink-and-purple-bug-loving girl, but at seven, she wants a toy for girls. When informed by the woman behind the counter (who can't even be bothered to look) that Snake Eyes is all she has, she hands the toy to the little boy next to us.

Win for all concerned. I have one less plastic toy to throw away. The little boy gets to be king of the hill with TWO G.I. Joe toys. And his mom gets to see him mollified for an extra few minutes in the midst of a long drive. And the girl? She gets praised for having done something nice for a younger kid.

our NJ Turnpike toy problem is the kid's fascination with the vending machines. literal junk

we had to take the girl to BK the week(s?) they had pokemon crap.

we had the same experience as anna, but with the genders reversed. on a road trip to RI a month or so ago. the toys at the time were a little American Girl book and a little Lego car. my 7-yr-old girl wanted the book; my 4-yr-old girl wanted the car. i could NOT get the woman at the register to accept that the little GIRL wanted the BOY MEAL. at first i tried to draw a feminist line in the sand and refused to call it a BOY MEAL -- i kept saying ONE WITH A BOOK AND ONE WITH A CAR! but she kept saying "but YOU HAVE TWO GIRLS!" and "BUT THAT IS A GIRL!" finally i gave up and said, "OK, let's pretend i have a girl and a boy and give me a GIRL MEAL and a BOY MEAL." because my kids were hungry and this was perhaps not the best time and place for a consciousness-raising lesson.

". . . the need to eat at McD's arose"

Does this actually happen?

I think the New Jersey Turnpike is one of the lower levels of Hell. Even the Soviet Union rarely produced such a perfect device for suffering.

Get off your high horse Curator. I have a 4 1/2 year old, 3 year old twins and I'm 9 months pregnant. We do what we have to do to get through the day. And we don't live in the ghetto, either.

I think if you eat at McDonalds the toy is the absolute least of your worries. I don't consider that food. Yiiichh.

The NJT is awful but lately I have been driving back and forth between Houston and Dallas and the boredom is killing me...but we have the MOST AWESOME store ever to stop at...Bucee's:

It's interesting to hear you say that the Hong Kong toys are masterpieces, I always thought they were the same quality as the US ones. I'll take your word for it, no plans to check this out for myself, however.

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