Friday, August 17, 2007

You Deserve a Gender Neutral Break Today

Why in the 21st century earth would McDonald's still ask me if I want a "boy or girl" Happy Meal? Is it so hard to say "Hot Wheel or Barbie?" (Or, more likely, "made-up misshapen superhero or plastic big-eyes animal with synthetic hair?")

This is an easy topic to attack, and I know you would rather ask me why I am going to McDonald's in the first place, and then.... why I am ordering a Happy Meal?

And thirdly, why I care what the toy is.
So I'll oblige.

the last 5 reasons I went to McDonalds in descending order of visit

  • Driving on Rt 2, 97 degrees outside, and half an hour to my next stop
  • The one in my town is open 24 hrs; everything else closes at nine. It was 11
  • Out of calories and dehydrated getting off the refrigerator crate known as the Nantucket ferry
  • 2 glasses of wine in an hour, stumbled out to the daylight and realized I shouldn't drive home. The fact that I didn't go back into the bar I just stumbled out of is some measure of how badly I needed some fry soaking.
  • I wanted some Chicken Selects. Don't act holier than thou.

Why I order the Happy Meal

Remember before the Happy Meal (1979 , if you are wondering), when the hamburger, small fries, small Coke combination was under $1? The Happy Meal is an emergency calorie infusion that can usually be purchased with what's in your coin tray. I do not claim this is better for you than eating a Power bar, or even 3 packs of salt and a pixie stick. I am just answering the question.

Why I care what the toy is.
I sort of care. When I had an office (with a fireplace, a couch, and french doors, but don't make me cry) and the disposable income of a 25 year old, AND... when Happy Meal toys were a whole lot better.... AND... I was going through a Disney revival period I have never yet explained except as a compulsion... I had a mantelpiece lined with Happy Meal toys. And in "them days," you were collecting movie characters so you could build a whole playset. No one cared whether you were a boy or a girl.

Today I sort of care because if it is any good, I'll throw it in the toy box I keep for visiting kids, where the rest of the good action figures are.

But they aren't. They are crappy. Dig the Mulan figures from 98. Hand-sized, posable, ripe for play. Today's toys -- right now today -- are a Legion of the superheroes figure (the size of an adult index finger, and made by people who had the specs delivered by cell phone). Below, DC help us, is the Man of Steel. He seems to have just heard the Five for Fighting Song.

or a Build a Bear bear, which is already built, by the way, what you get to do is dress it.

So when the kid says to me, "Boy or a girl?" I said, "what are the toys?" and then pretended to think a long time about it, as if conferring with my child, which he will soon see is not in the car. I chose the Superhero. Don't lick it; you don't know where the plastic has been.
Wonder Woman, even in a sickly version, is not in the collection

They should put this is every Happy Meal. It is clearly unisex.

Finally, I am pleased to report that in preparation for this story, I learned that stories about things found in Happy Meals are easier to find that we might like.


  1. I too was surprised by the strict enforcement of a gender dichotomy at the golden arches. (Yes I have introduced my son to McD's and he loves french fries, but will not eat chicken nuggets)

  2. First of all, Miss Minchin's child is smarter than his years. :)

    Secondly, my office mates think me mad as I often laugh out loud when reading your posts. Exhibit 942.3.8: "I do not claim this is better for you than eating a Power bar, or even 3 packs of salt and a pixie stick. I am just answering the question." Ha!

  3. oh Lord my kid eats the nuggets. And if I get them the fries but I try to be responsible and get the apple slices and avert my eyes at the caramel dipping sauce. Liam is usually disappointed with the toys because they all SUCK. A scary looking random guy who throws wheels out of his head. One of the villians from any movie out - he always gets the villans - this makes him sad. This week it was a weird guy with one arm from a show no one watches on Cartoon Network. But still. He asks for the meal hoping THIS TIME he'll get a toy worth playing with.
    Me - I like the fries.

    Oh and you keep toys? Well then... we may show up one of these days.


Comments Build Community! We thank you for yours. Spam comments are not welcome and will not be posted.