The History of McDonald’s Happy Meal

The birth of McDonald’s Happy Meal was a big deal, but there was a lot that went into the creation of the fast food staple. Learn more!

It feels like the McDonald’s Happy Meal has been around since the dawn of the golden arches, but that’s not the case. In fact, for a while, the fast food chain felt they were already marketing to families and had no intention of marketing to children specifically. Oh, how wrong they were. So how did this classic boxed meal take over the United States?! Let’s find out.

In 1974, the owners of a Guatemalan McDonald’s location realized a strong need to have child-sized food available as such small mouths couldn’t be expected to consume a whole Big Mac. “The Menu Ronald” was created with smaller portions and specific menu options selected just for kids. This is the first time a special children’s menu was created in the restaurant’s history. The result had corporate shifting their marketing strategies and developing options for kids worldwide. Still, there was no special box and no toy; this wasn’t the Happy Meal we’ve come to expect today.

The first actual Happy Meal came together after one of the marketing executives realized how kids responded to cereal. Certain cereals came with puzzles on the box and toys on the inside, and children would pressure their parents into buying these options. What if they did the same thing with The Menu Ronald? Thus, in 1977, the Happy Meal was born!

Learn even more about the Happy Meal’s history and evolution over the years in the video below!