Happy Meal will have apples unless you ask for fries
Published: July 26, 2011
There will still be toys in the bags, but apples will soon reign supreme over French fries in the iconic McDonald's Happy Meal.
The fast food giant on Tuesday announced a long-term project to overhaul the Happy Meal, along with many adult items too, and generally improve the nutrition makeup of menu items.
For starters, the new Happy Meal will come with apple slices, not fries, as the standard option.
And for kids who pitch a protest and demand fries, they will come in a smaller size, 1.1 ounces, instead of the current 2.4-ounce bag. The caramel dipping sauce will go away.
Together, the choices could cut the overall calorie count by 20 percent.
Parents will still have the option of choosing chicken nuggets or burgers, and whatever drink they like – soda, milk, orange juice or water.
The prices won't change.
For now, the switch will go against the current of customer preferences.
McDonald's executives say that given the choice between fries and apples, only 11 percent of customers pick apples.
The changes are part of a multi-year drive at McDonald's to improve the nutrition makeup of its overall menu to have less sodium, lower fat options and more fruits, veggies and whole grains.
It's also part of a drive at McDonald's to shed its role as a major target in the debate over childhood obesity.
Happy Meals have long been a target of health advocates and even city councils, which fault them as ways to tempt kids into eating unhealthy fast food.
Asked if toys would go away, McDonald's officials said absolutely not.
"That's what makes them happy," said Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA.
New Happy Meals will start appearing in restaurants in 10 markets this September, with a full rollout to all 14,000 U.S. locations by the second quarter next year.
Overall, they'll still weigh in at just under 600 calories.