Breaking the Toy / Kiddie Meal Bond

In May, the Board of Supervisors in Santa Clara County (the county in which I live) passed an ordinance prohibiting local fast food restaurants from advertising toys to children. Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the ordinance, took the creative political step in order to sever the tight link between marketing toys to kids and selling them high-cal, high-sodium foods. The ordinance applied only to restaurants within a well-defined unincorporated area of the county, but was widely seen as a test-case for similar, broader-reaching initiatives elsewhere. It gained widespread media coverage.

Now, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is taking things one step further. Last week, the nonprofit watchdog group announced it “will sue McDonald’s if the fast-food chain continues to use toys to promote Happy Meals.” According to CSPI’s press release, all of McDonald’s Happy Meal combinations exceed 430 calories (one third of calories recommended for 4 to 8-year olds) and the toy tie-ins violate consumer protection laws in several states. The group is giving McDonald’s 30 days notice to change its practices before filing suit.

When I first heard about the local ordinance, I thought it would gain neither interest nor traction. Clearly, I was wrong. The tight bond between kids’ toys and fast food has sparked a raging debate—one that may eventually play out in a courtroom far from my county.

Do you think McDonald’s is wrong to give out toys with their kiddie meals? Chime in Below!


Like this? Read these!
- How to Make Fast-Food Dishes at Home
- The Unhealthiest Fast-Food Meals
- When Fast Food is the Only Food

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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