Happy Meal: Would You Like Apples With That?

An institution of American childhood is changing again, and the Happy Meal you grew up with may look somewhat different from the one your kids will come to know.

The kids’ meals at McDonald’s fast food joints are undergoing a makeover- one that promises to reduce calories by 20%, and add an actual fruit to the standard rugrat fare. (Or, as the Wall Street Journal spins it, “effectively taking away consumers’ current choice between either having apples with caramel dip or fries as a Happy Meal side.” Free market capitalism, we hardly knew ye.) Portions of french fries are shrinking from 2.4 ounces to 1.1 ounces, and the apples with caramel dip with join the fray as standard- not an infrequently selected option, as they are now.

Critics are sharply divided between people who feel like the change is forcing apples on the American consumer and those who feel that the change doesn’t go nearly far enough in forcing apples on the American consumer. To wit:

“McDonald’s is taking steps in the right direction, but we should be careful in heaping praise on corporations for simply reducing the scope of the problem they continue to create,” said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of a group called Corporate Accountability International.

So when the protests start, which side will you be on- the one saying you can have our 2.4 ounces of french fries when you pry them from our cold, dead hands or the one that feels McDonald’s is a poison-shilling obesity factory that should have its products labeled as a Class A controlled substance?