Customers now have another option other than fries when ordering McDonald's Happy Meals for their kids. The fast food chain has announced the addition of a 50-calorie version of Go-Gurt Low-Fat Strawberry Yogurt to its menu. McD's also introduced a new animated character named Happy to promote its meals with kids. The response from child health advocates and social media to the news was probably not what the chain had hoped.
The new yogurt option comes with 25 percent less sugar than the same brand sold in retail stores. While parents and public health advocates have asked McDonald's to improve the nutrition in the company's Happy Meals, the vast majority of customers have chosen French fries over apple slices, the other more nutritious option on the menu.
"It's good they're adding another option, but they've still got a long ways to go," Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at Center for Science in the Public Interest, told USA Today. "I'd be much more excited if they added more fruit or vegetable items."
McDonald's is also introducing its new Happy character this week. The character is intended to represent a smiling Happy Meal box and is meant to promote eating healthier foods for kids. While some, including Ms. Wootan, like the idea of Happy, the character is eliciting negative responses on social media for being too scary.
While McDonald's asks people to say hello to its newest friend, here are some tweets posted on the chain's Twitter page:
"This looks so scary"
"This was a Mcstake"
"Who thought this was a good idea"
"I think I'm going to have nightmares"
"It's the meal that eats you"
The reviews of a video introducing the new character didn't go much better on Facebook either with some claiming the character was "creepy" and thought up by someone who didn't have small children of their own. Beyond that, quite a few posts suggested that Happy was a not too subtle borrowing of the minion characters from Despicable Me. One poster wrote, "Within five seconds, I knew it was going to be a wannabe minion from Despicable Me. You got caught, Mickey D."
Which is the bigger problem for McDonald's to deal with when it comes to marketing Happy Meals?