The Happy Meal
Hello, I'm glad that you stopped back in for another helping of yesteryear. Pull up a chair and get comfortable.
When I was younger, McDonald's was an inexpensive place to take your kids to eat. I can remember when you could get a hamburger, regular fries, and a regular soft drink for less than a dollar (99 cents to be exact). In the early 70's they had a venerable plethora of characters who lived in McDonaldland. There was Mayor McCheese, Big Mac (the cop), Captain Crook (the pirate), The Professor (who invented gadgets to create the food items), Hamburgular, Grimace, and of course, Ronald McDonald himself.
In the mid 70's, due to a lawsuit by Sid & Marty Krofft (makers of H.R. Puffenstuff and other Saturday morning offerings) the majority of those characters went by the wayside. If you didn't have cartoon characters to interest kids, what else could you do?
In 1979 (my Freshman year) McDonald's introduced "The Happy Meal". It involved a hamburger or cheeseburger (chicken nuggets hadn't been invented yet), regular fries, a packet of McDonaldland cookies & a regular soft drink (when I worked for McDonald's we were told NEVER to call them "small" because McDonald's doesn't have a small anything). This was packaged in a colorful box with games and activities printed on it. It was a monster smash, dynamite hit. The Star Trek Movie that came out later that year was the first movie-themed Happy Meal.
Some people think McDonalds invented the idea of giving toys away in their children's meals. I remember being about 10 or so and getting a kid's meal at BBF (Borden Burger Foods). One of their kid's meals was called "Drum & Fife" and it consisted of a chicken drumstick, french fries, a soft drink and a toy. I remember getting a cowboy figure. I also remember getting something at Burger Chef, but I don't remember what it was.
What has been your favorite meal associated prize?