Happy Meals are marketed to kids, but parents will love this news too: Storybooks will replace toys in the classic McDonald’s meal box.
From Feb. 2 to Feb. 15, kids can dig into childhood favorites such as Paddington, Clark the Shark Takes Heart, Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! and Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day Is Cool. Most recently, the fast-food giant offered books with Happy Meals in 2013 and 2015. This year’s effort is in partnership with the literary nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental, and by time it ends, McDonald’s will have given away 50 million books.
McDonald’s offered its first Happy Meal back in 1979, after an employee in St. Louis came up with the idea, according to Time. The first Happy Meal was circus-themed, and its toys ranged from bracelets and spinning tops to stencils and erasers. But long before that, McDonald’s offered an assortment of kid-friendly promotional memorabilia. For example, in 1969, there were Buildems, a small-scale model of the restaurant for kids to assemble, compete with trash cans:
Then there was a vinyl record of Ronald McDonald reading The Night Before Christmas (1972):
Sippy Dipper Straws appeared in 1970:
And while it’s reported that this year is the third time books have been included with Happy Meals, McDonald’s did offer stories more times in the past: In 1989, kids unwrapped Dinosaur Talking Story Books; in 1982, The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, and in 1990, Berenstain Bear Books Happy Meal.
Considering that one-third of U.S. children eat pizza or fast food every day, a little nourishment for the brain is a step in the right direction.