Bowing to pressure from health advocates and the government, McDonald’s is putting “happy” in the Happy Meal.
The company announced Tuesday that it would more than halve the amount of French fries and add apples to its popular children’s meal in an effort to reduce the overall calorie count by 20 percent.
And to make children “happy” the company is adding two 20 mg Prozac pills to the meal.
A toy will still come with each Happy Meal. Children will either get a free water pistol or a plastic Pirates of the Caribbean knife.
Happy Meals account for less than 10 percent of all McDonald’s sales, and the signature box and its contents — first introduced in 1979 — have become a favorite target in recent years. Health groups were concerned that the french fries were making kids “fat and sad”.
Now, with the addition of apple slices and Prozac the company feels kids will now be “skinny and happy.”
McDonald’s made it clear that it was changing the composition of Happy Meals in response to parental and consumer pressure. It also said that it had the approval of the American Psychological Association.
“We have been urging fast food restaurants to put Prozac into their meals for years,” said Dr. Wendy McMallter of the APA. “If we get children onto antidepressants early in life – before their brains are fully developed – it could help their brain set to a ‘happy level’ and that could be a great benefit to society.”
The new Happy Meals will be introduced in September and rolled out across the company’s 14,000 restaurants by April 2012.