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Friday, July 24, 2009
You may have seen Ronald McDonald in the news this week as he met with a collector of Happy Meal toys. The occasion? McDonald's is celebrating the Happy Meal's 30th anniversary.
In 1977, Dick Brams, a McDonald's Regional Advertising Manager, commissioned the first Happy Meal and called it McDonaldland Fun-to-Go. The "Fun-to-Go" part of the name was because its mission was also to promote the new drive-through window service that was being introduced.
Two years later, the kids' meal was rolled out nationally with a Circus Wagon Train theme. The toy prize that came withe the meal became the key to its success and changed the way children ordered food.
In 1991, the museum accepted a set of eight McDino Changeable Happy Meal Toys into the permanent collection (above). It was an unusual addition to the tens of thousands of objects in the museum's care, especially since the toys did not have a significant relation to Lake County. However, they complemented the museum's advertising doll collection. Photo by Deanna Tyler
Each toy is shaped like McDonald's food items and unfolds or transforms into a different dinosaur. The McDinos were donated with their original packaging as shown in this photo.
What was initially meant for children and to draw young families to the restaurant, quickly became collectibles for adults.
To date, billions of meals and toys have been sold, and the toys and the Happy Meal packaging serious collector items. The cheap trinkets of the early Happy Meals have been gradually replaced with increasingly sophisticated toys, many of which are a tie-in to some existing toy line or motion picture.
Here is a close-up of the Meal-O-Don. Cute!