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From now until January 22, youngsters will get one of four books with their burgers, instead of the usual toys
If you give a kid a Happy Meal book, he’s going to want a library card. Hopefully.
McDonald’s is trying to encourage kids to read with the fast-food company’s newest promotion: a book giveaway. The two-week campaign, which puts books in Happy Meals instead of the typical toy cars and dolls, began January 9 and will end January 22. During these two weeks, McDonald’s expects to give away 17 million copies of the four available books in collaboration with nonprofit organization Reading is Fundamental and HarperCollins: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond; Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce; Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean; and Flat Stanley Goes Camping by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan.
This isn’t the first time that McDonald’s ventured into the world of reading. In 2013, a similar promotion distributed 20 million kids’ books to its littlest customers. This year, the books were all selected with McDonald’s consumers in mind.
“This is the latest step in our ongoing efforts to enrich the lives of families, and part of a broader book strategy to combine the fun of the Happy Meal and support of our partners to inspire more family reading time,” said Julie Wenger, senior director of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s.
McDonald’s Selling Books to Kids
McDonald’s latest attempt to market its Happy Meals as something other than pure dietary evil has the fast-food chain taking a page from Amazon: It’s selling books to children. According to British newspaper the Telegraph, McDonald’s is including nine million vouchers for the popular Mudpuddle Farm series in its Happy Meals sold in the UK. The meals also come with a book-related finger puppet.
Like everything McDonald’s does, particularly where marketing fried, fatty foods to children is concerned, critics are divided. Those in favor of it point to the deeply depressing statistic that one in three British children doesn’t own a book by that measure, anything that promotes literacy (and finger puppetry) can’t be all bad. Those opposed point to the fact that, literacy aside, the books are being used to sell Happy Meals, and that is indeed very bad. There are six books in the Mudpuddle series, which means that children will pester their parents for Happy Meals at least six times between now and February 7, when the promotion ends.
McDonald’s could, of course, appease both sides and have a more lasting effect on the quality of children’s lives by selling them better food. But then one could also argue that if politicians made education a greater priority than, say, military spending, fast-food chains wouldn’t have as much room to do double duty as school libraries.
Although McDonald’s hasn’t announced plans to sell books in the States, Chick-fil-A already beat them to it. Through a partnership with Random House, the Atlanta-based corporation hands out book vouchers with its kids’ meals. Given Chick-fil-A’s track record, the chain might win over skeptics by promoting titles like Heather Has Two Mommies, Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z, or The Berenstain Bears and the Bully.
McDonald's Says Goodbye To Happy Meal Toys
If you're looking to score a mini Hello Kitty or Star Wars figurine with your kid's burger at McDonald's, then you're out of luck. The fast-food chain is removing toys from its Happy Meals&mdashat least for the next few weeks.
Now through February 15, Happy Meals will include a book instead of a plastic, pop culture-driven toy. McDonald's plans to distribute more than 17 million children's books to kids who chow down on their pint-size fries during this time.
There are four top titles in the mix, including Paddington, Pete the Cat, Clark the Shark Takes Heart, and Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse. Each book has been specially made to fit inside the trademark Happy Meal box, with the petite paperbacks measuring about 4 inches by 5 inches. The brand is even offering Spanish-language versions at some locations.
This campaign is the result of a partnership between McDonald's and a literacy nonprofit, Reading is Fundamental. And this is actually the third year that the Golden Arches has swapped toys for books. McDonald's also donated 100,000 books to the organization this year. Happy Meal, indeed.
McDonald’s giving away books with Happy Meals
McDonald’s is offering books instead of prizes in their Happy Meals.
The fast food chain started giving children’s books instead of prizes away since Tuesday and will last until February 15.
Book titles include “Paddington” and “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!”
This is the third time McDonald’s has replaced toys with books in an effort to get children to read more.
By the time this year’s giveaway is over, McDonald’s will have distributed 50 million children’s books.
“Ensuring children have access to books has proven instrumental in combating illiteracy in children in the United States,” Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading is Fundamental said in a statement.
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27 Beanies and Babies
In other words, Beanie Babies! These toys are one of the most prized toys to ever come out of McDonald's. Outside of the restaurant they earned quite a reputation as being highly sought after and adorable. These adorable bean-filled dolls were paired with happy meals in the early 2000's, and while experts predicted they'd be valuable in the future, no one could have imagined they'd be priced at over $400 for an average doll and over $750 for the rare Beary the Bear doll. You read that right.
A rare beanie baby, known as Beary the Bear, is being sold online for over $750.
How on earth is that possible? It's so strange to imagine that these toys of simple cloth and beans came together to form one of the collector world's most infamous fast food collectibles. So be ready to shell out a lot of money for these incredibly rare toys.
The "Mudpuddle Farm" books are a series, meaning that kids hooked on the books may want to head back to McDonald's for more tales — and more french fries.
Critics say a Happy Meal is a Happy Meal, whether it comes with a book or not.
"It's not the most healthful choice," said Stacia Helfand, registered dietician from Nutritious Life. "It's not a good idea to link fast food and education," she said.
"If McDonald's wanted to do more to enrich children's lives, it would raise the quality of the nutrition in its kids' meals."
Gareth Helm, the company's chief marketing officer in the UK, said: 'We care passionately about the environment and are committed to reducing plastic across our business including within our Happy Meal.
'Families have high expectations of us and we're working as hard as we can to give them the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible.
The chain will also run a 'toy amnesty' whereby customers can bring in unwanted plastic toys to one of its 1,350 sites in the UK and it will melt down the plastic to make new toys for its charity
'Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we're making today have the potential to make a big difference.'
McDonald's first introduced its Happy Meal in the US in 1979 - over 20 years after it was founded in 1955 - and since then the children's meal and toy has become a staple for the restaurant.
In Australia last month, the chain introduced children's books with its Happy Meals. A series of 12, written by Cressida Cowell - author of How To Train Your Dragon - will be released throughout the year with the first two books already available.
The Treetop Twins Wilderness Adventures series is written in cooperation with the Australian Federation of SPELD Associations (AUSPELD) who assist children and adults learning how to read.
In the past, McDonald's has committed to reducing its emissions by 36 per cent by the end of the decade, and to use recycled or renewable materials in all its packaging by 2025
McDonald's, which is in 120 countries and has almost 38,000 global restaurants, hopes this will be its latest step in a master plan to curb its impact on the environment.
In the past, it has committed to reducing its emissions by 36 per cent by the end of the decade, and to use recycled or renewable materials in all its packaging by 2025.
It has already removed the lids from its McFlurry ice creams - saving 385 tonnes of plastic - and replaced its salad boxes with ones that can be recycled as paper.
Last year the chain rolled-out paper straws to replace its plastic ones in drinks.
- Initiative will come into effect from October and will take place in some stores
- Plans to expand the initiative to include swapping toys for books next year
- Latest step for the company's mission to curb its impact on the environment
Published: 16:34 BST, 18 September 2019 | Updated: 18:32 BST, 18 September 2019
McDonald's and Burger King are on a mission cut out plastic waste from their fast food restaurants and are getting eco-obsessed children chowing down to help.
The rival firms are each launching rival initiatives which will see the popular toys in children's meals a thing of the past.
Burger King will be completely removing all plastic toys from its King Junior Meals in every store in the UK as of tomorrow.
And McDonald's has revealed it will start a trial next month in a handful of restaurants where the plastic toy can be substituted for a fruit bag.
The popular chain, which has almost 1,300 UK outlets, also plans to expand the initiative to include swapping toys for books at the start of next year.
The opposing fast food behemoths are hoping to improve the public image of the industry as the public becomes increasingly aware of the damaging affect of plastic and large-scale industrial agriculture.
The fast food behemoth also has plans to expand the initiative to include swapping toys for books at the start of next year. The firm is in 120 countries and has almost 38,000 restaurants (stock)
Burger King claims their project will save an estimated 320 tonnes of single use plastic annually.
Katie Evans, Marketing Director at Burger King UK, said: 'It is impossible to ignore the growing problem excessive plastic waste is causing and we are glad to be taking action.
'At Burger King we know we can positively contribute to finding new, more sustainable solutions, long term.
'We're inviting customers to donate their unwanted plastic toys and working with Pentatonic, we're excited to give them a fresh start.
'We recognised that by replacing them with a more sustainable solution there was an opportunity for us to make a radical change with Meltdown – one of the first of many.'
Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King, added: 'We are a global brand, and the UK market will be leading the way in making this first step towards change, which is part of our wider commitment on reducing plastics.
'Work is currently underway across all of our markets to look at how we can completely move away from non bio-degradable plastic toys by 2025.'
Happy Meal 2.0
The fast food giant has now promised to follow Burger King and eliminate plastic toys entirely.
Chief marketing officer for McDonald’s UK & Ireland Gareth Helm said: “Families have high expectations of us and we’re working as hard as we can to give them the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible. Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we’re making today have the potential to make a big difference.”
From this month McDonald’s said it will start trialling paper packaging for all its Happy Meal toys, and from May customers will be able to choose between a book or a plastic toy, giving them the choice to “opt out” of receiving plastic. The company also announced plans for a five-week “toy amnesty” starting in May, with unwanted plastic toys collected and melted into playground equipment.