An open letter to McDonalds from Indiana
I adore you and much to the chagrin of my organic eating husband, my lifelong loyalty to you is very well known and very well indulged in at this point. I grew up across the street from McDonalds, worked at a Disney McDonalds in college, and eat McDonalds so much that my regular drive-thru lady (Ms. Mary!) recognizes my voice over the speaker.
I'm sure you're well aware, but Target has recently made the decision to stop dividing and labeling their toy areas as zones specific for boys versus girls. My hope is that McDonalds could follow suit in a smaller capacity.
This past week, as I was ordering my children Happy Meals through the drive-thru (please don't tell my peer mothers at my gym and homeschool playgroup), I was asked if the Happy Meals were for boys or girls. "One of each," I chirped through the speaker. This boy / girl differentiation is common. I know this because I'm a frequent customer but also because the screen reflects our order: "Happy Meal: BOY // hamburger- plain // milk- white".
At the window, I was then given one (awesome) Batman toy, presumably for my son, and one (horrific) Monster High toy, presumably for my daughter. I took one look at the Monster High doll's face, recoiled in terror, and immediately asked if I could have an additional Batman toy instead.
My precocious two year old, the girl, piped up from the back, "The boy toys are fun!" Mind you: this is a girl who was sporting a ballerina tutu and hot pink shoes that day. However, for her upcoming birthday she has requested a car carrier (as well as a pointy birthday hat, but that is neither here nor there). My point is, children aren't typically all pink or all blue all the time, if you know what I'm saying.
Thankfully I was able to do the trade no problem. The drive-thru gal was quite accommodating and didn't bat an eye, except to compliment the girl child on her high ponytail (the ponytail is awesome, and I love my local McDonalds!).
Since then, my two year old daughter has thoroughly loved her last few days with her tiny Joker car. She and her brother have been playing good guy / bad guy with their Batman and Joker toys for a week now... which is approximately six days longer than they usually play with their Happy Meal toys. Bonus: she wants to be Joker for Halloween, which is awesome because last year she was a bucket of chicken, so this will be a marked improvement.
I would be missing this delightful development had I dutifully taken the toy deemed appropriate for a girl. And although the Joker and the Monster High doll share a similar made-up face, the Joker seems less sinister and likely won't invade my nightmares.
As a McDonalds megafan, may I make a suggestion? Could you please have your hardworking crew ask the ordering adults if they'd prefer a [Batman] toy or a [Monster High] toy in their Happy Meals instead of asking if it's for a boy or girl? There's no reason to call a plastic comic book toy a boy's toy and vice versa. Call them what they are. Additionally, it could also possibly make your partnering toy brands happier since each customer transaction would include verbal name recognition. Seems like a win-win-win situation, don't you think?
No need to make a big hullabaloo about this simple change; no press conferences or "official statements" needed. A simple memo and slight retraining will do. Complex social and political issues aside, this is just calling the toys by their brands so parents can make the appropriate decision for their own families and individual children. That's all most parents want: complete information so that we can make the best choices for our kids.
This very small, virtually zero-cost adjustment would be very convenient for a lot of families. It would essentially allow parents (versus marketing) to be the ones to make the distinction of what their girls and boys should play with. As a side effect, personally, I am excited about the possibility of not having to explain to my daughter that she's allowed to play with a toy car that in the past would have been called a "boy toy".
Highest and most golden regards,
If this is McDonald's wish granting day, please also always serve large fountain Cokes in a foam cup and never, ever in a plastic one. I just feel like if I'm getting a large, I'm not drinking it all immediately right away, so the plastic cup gets sweaty and somehow the Coke inside doesn't taste as good. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks this!
If you can only grant one wish, the toy thing is more important, so do that one, please. Thank you. I love you.
Updates and notes:
- Relevant Slate article: Although McDonald's has had a corporate policy in place for over six years for employees to stop calling Happy Meals "boy" or "girl", it is not at all enforced. [source]. I, for one, would like some follow up on this letter.
- Faith-based argument in the comments section as transcribed from my FB page.