Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Meal Ban: McDonald's Outsmarts San Francisco

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 3:13 PM

click to enlarge He's got good lawyers, that one
  • He's got good lawyers, that one

Update: Read about how city and health officials say they were blindsided by McDonald's.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the city's de facto ban of the Happy Meal commences. San Francisco has accomplished what the Hamburglar could not. Or has it?

In order to include a toy with a meal, restaurants must now comply with city-generated nutritional standards. Those are standards that even the "healthier" Happy Meals McDonald's introduced earlier this year don't come close to meeting. (As SF Weekly noted in January, the school lunches our children eat aren't healthy enough to qualify, either).

And yet it seems McDonald's has turned lemons into lemonade -- and is selling the sugary drink to San Francisco's children. Local McDonald's employees tell SF Weekly the company has devised a solution that appears to comply with San Francisco's "Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance" that could actually make the company more money -- and necessitate toy-happy youngsters to buy more Happy Meals. 

It turns out San Francisco has not entirely vanquished the Happy Meal as we know it. Come Dec. 1, you can still buy the Happy Meal. But it doesn't come with a toy. For that, you'll have to pay an extra 10 cents.

Huh. That hardly seems to have solved the problem (though adults and children purchasing unhealthy food can at least take solace that the 10 cents is going to Ronald McDonald House charities). But it actually gets worse from here. Thanks to Supervisor Eric Mar's much-ballyhooed new law, parents browbeaten into supplementing their preteens' Happy Meal toy collections are now mandated to buy the Happy Meals.

Today and tomorrow mark the last days that put-upon parents can satiate their youngsters by simply throwing down $2.18 for a Happy Meal toy. But, thanks to the new law taking effect on Dec. 1, this is no longer permitted. Now, in order to have the privilege of making a 10-cent charitable donation in exchange for the toy, you must buy the Happy Meal. Hilariously, it appears Mar et al., in their desire to keep McDonald's from selling grease and fat to kids with the lure of a toy have now actually incentivized the purchase of that grease and fat -- when, beforehand, a put-upon parent could get out cheaper and healthier with just the damn toy.

Hard to kill...
  • Hard to kill...
Messages for Mar and his legislative aides -- who are, at this moment, in a Board of Supervisors meeting -- have not yet been returned.

In any event, it appears the fast food chain's sharpie lawyers have McTopped San Francisco's legislators. Count this city's lawmakers as the latest among the billions and billions served. 

Previously in SF Weekly:

  • Pin It

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"