4 terrible Happy Meal toys you've repressed
Introduced in 1979, McDonald’s iconic Happy Meals have brought joy and juvenile diabetes to children the world over, and is one of the few things that can get children to frequent a restaurant using what is clearly a serial killer as a mascot.
The actual prizes given out with the meal have varied a lot over the years, and not all of them have what you’d call collectors value. Oh sure, everyone remembers the awesome Disney tie-ins that always made the poor bastards who got Burger King’s crappy Kids Club meal weep with shame and envy, but it’s not all Aladdin toys and limited edition Pokemon cards. This is the kind of stuff that make up most of the US landfills, along with old Simpsons merchandise and MC Hammer pants.
Okay, so what’s the first thing you think about when it comes to McDonald’s? Oh, not manual labor? Well, somebody screwed up then, because that’s what you got as a prize back in 1988.
That’s right, those are gardening tools. Someone at McDonald’s thought your kids would want vegetables as part of their fast food experience. And not just vegetables: vegetables they had to grow themselves and would take months to get, like the world’s worst vegan restaurant. And just to add insult to injury, they also gave you the seeds to go along with your breakable plastic tools. It wasn’t a small collection of junk either; they really seemed to think kids would want to catch all the crappy utensils.
So how could you top that for lack of imagination? Well, how about a toy that’s literally just a bucket?
That’s right, the “McDonald’s Halloween Pails” wins the prize of most uninspired giveaway ever. The Halloween Pails are basically just a bunch of plastic buckets in different colors, with a different stupid face drawn on each of them. Because if there’s one thing your kid will want, it’s a Halloween accessory you can literally buy for a quarter at any gas station in the country. Oh, but that’s not the best part; these things were recurring prizes, and popped up pretty much every year as an easy Halloween gimmick. Somewhere out there is a house full of these fucking things because the guy living there has been obsessively collecting all of them for the past 20 years.
It would be hard to top that level of creative sterility, so let’s move on from boring to just pants-shittingly terrifying. Few may know this, but McDonald’s prizes for kids actually predated Happy Meals by quite a few years, as shown by our next item, which is probably the single most horrifying thing McDonald’s has ever put out that wasn’t shaped like a hamburger.
This is a 1968 Ronald McDonald hand puppet, and by puppet, we mean it’s just a plastic bag with Ronald painted on it in the most nightmarish way they could imagine. That’s right, it’s not just a lazy product, but terrifying as well, kinda like their Chicken McNuggets. I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to play with a plastic sack with a dead-eyed clown painted on it? This thing looks like Tim Curry should play it in a disappointing miniseries. Yet for some reason, McDonald’s thought it would be a good idea to bring the damn thing back for modern consumers as well, though with a design that made the puppet look slightly less like it was possessed by the vengeful dead.
Okay, so we’ve seen boring, more boring, and boring and terrifying, so what’s left? Well, how about boring and annoying? And who does boring and annoying better than anyone? Why, Nickelodeon, of course!
Back in the ’90s, before Cartoon Network had completely eviscerated Nickelodeon and held its spine aloft in a corporate battle to the death, McDonald’s did a tie-in with them. Not based on their shows, but with these plastic monstrosities.
Behold the Nickelodeon Game Gadgets, which might look like a mashed-together mess of plastic nonsense, mainly because thats what they were. These rattling abominations drove the parents of any kid who got them insane, with the exception of the blimp, which was given to younger children to keep them from choking to death on the break-away parts on the other toys, which fell apart so easily you’d think the people who designed them had sworn a blood oath against toddlers. While the Gotcha Gusher Squirter and Applause Paws were bad enough on their own, there’s a special place in hell reserved for the man who designed Loud-Mouth Mike, the thing that looks like an ice cream cone mixed with vomit, which was actually an echo microphone.
And you thought Furbies were annoying.