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10 Things You Loved About McDonald’s as a Kid

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Posted October 16, 2014 by Melanie Heggs

slideshow-prev-red-8820268PREV NEXTslideshow-next-red-4676365 By Illegitimate Barrister (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

What kid didn’t beg and plead with their parents to pull over once they saw those lit-up golden arches? The Playplace, the Happy Meals, the toys and, of course, the delicious food, were what drew us all to McDonald’s as a kid and what made us love the place so much.

Every kid loved Happy Meals. You received just enough food to satisfy your tiny stomach, including simple food that kids love—those perfect, salty fries and juicy burgers and chicken nuggets. But the best part was the free toy that came with each meal. Every kid loves toys.

By Simon Burchell (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons By Simon Burchell (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ronald McDonald was the ambassador of Mickey D’s, and he appeared in commercials, ads and in statue form outside of restaurants. He was a friendly character and a great marketing gimmick by the franchise—unless you were one of the unfortunate children who had a clown phobia.

Around Halloween, Mickey D’s would always offer these pails, which were put to good use while trick-or-treating. They came in different designs, but the one we wanted the most was the glow-in-the-dark pail. Anything that glowed in the dark was automatically cool to kids.

By JGKlein (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons By JGKlein (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Is this the best marketing scheme, or what? A playground is a kid magnet, so putting one in front of your restaurant is a sure way to get children to flock there. Who didn’t love the ball pit? Unfortunately, the Playplace is a rarity nowadays, as many restaurants have gotten rid of them. Isn’t this the opposite of what they should be doing if childhood obesity is rising? Kids need to get outside and be active.

By Christina Kennedy (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons By Christina Kennedy (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It seemed way cool to receive a meal in a box with handles that resembled the golden arches. The outside of each Happy Meal box usually had a fun theme that included crossword puzzles or word searches.

Ronald McDonald’s sidekicks, the Hamburglar, Grimace, and the French Fry Goblins, were probably bigger favorites among kids than Ronald even was. The characters lived in “McDonaldland”, a fantasy world. Kids love colorful characters and fantasy, so of course we loved them.

The cute collectibles always had the best costumes and themes. Every kid wanted to collect them all.

A packet of shortbread cookies was included in each Happy Meal, until they ended it in recent years, replacing the yummy cookies with apples. How could they, you ask? The childhood obesity epidemic has put pressure on McDonald’s to cater to a healthier outlook. But taking cookies away from kids just seems plain wrong.

McDonald’s commercials featured Ronald McDonald and his sidekicks from McDonaldland, always getting into shenanigans and doing something to make us laugh.

Every year, McDonald’s would offer the miniature Barbies and Hot Wheels toys in each Happy Meal. This was reason enough to beg a grown up to drive you there, even if you weren’t all that hungry. Even if they had real, regular size Barbies and Hot Wheels toys at home, kids still had the lofty goal of collecting each and every Mickey D’s doll or toy car. Why? Because that’s what kids do!