Another Wasteful Lawsuit Over McDonalds Happy Meal Toys

Happy Meal toy (Photo Credit: Albert Jankowski)

Would you like to see an example of a frivolous, unnecessary, complete-waste-of-everyone’s-time lawsuit?  Look no further as we call out the Food Police.

From CNS News:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a liberal consumer advocacy organization, has announced it will sue McDonald’s unless the fast-food franchise stops using toys to market its “Happy Meals” to children.

“This morning, CSPI notified McDonald’s that we will file a lawsuit against the company unless it stops using toys to beguile young children,” said Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

If our justice system still functioned in a rational, mature and just manner, whatever judge gets this turd of a lawsuit on his desk should offer this malcontent Michael F. Jacobson a simple choice: withdraw this lawsuit right now, or be held in contempt of court.

It really is contemptuous of justice and of our nation’s court system to bring complete crap like this before the court and waste its valuable time.  The very idea of bringing a lawsuit against a legitimate company for offering a legitimate product in a legitimate manner reeks and is completely un-American.

Justice demands that law-abiding companies (and the people who own, run and invest in them) not be harassed by do-gooder whinebags like this.  To force McDonalds to waste even a penny to defend themselves from such a frivolous lawsuit would constitute dereliction of duty on the part of our justice system–which exists to ensure justice reigns in our land.

Additionally, this lawsuit is extremely insulting to parents.  While many parents indeed do a pathetic job of instilling discipline and restraint in their children, as long as the parents are not putting their child at imminent and serious risk, that is their prerogative.  Most parents, however, are capable of telling their child “No” when it comes to the choice of buying a Happy Meal, or going to McDonalds in the first place.

Does  Michael F. Jacobson really think we are stupid enough to believe McDonalds is somehow managing to “go around the parents and market straight to the kids to bribe the kids to come”?  Are children driving themselves to McDonalds without the knowledge or consent of their parents? What sort of jobs are these children holding down that they can afford their own car and pay for their own Happy Meals? Or are parents utterly powerless to fight the evil brainwashing of the Happy Meal Toy Brainwashing?  Are parents turned into helpless zombies by Happy Meal ads: “Must buy Happy Meal…Must buy Happy Meal…Must buy Happy Meal…”?  Of course, parents must be too stupid to balance out a trip to McDonalds with some more wholesome eating at home, too.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy being treated like a complete moron, and that is how this asinine lawsuit treats American parents. It also treats American judges and our entire justice system like complete morons–and whatever judge gets this case should respond to the insult accordingly.

30 Responses to “Another Wasteful Lawsuit Over McDonalds Happy Meal Toys”

  1. Well since when have we started holding companies responsible for our children’s well being, when I was growing up it was up to my parents to tell me yes or no. Well I guess that was when you could actually disaplen your child without someone saying they were gonna come and take them from you. And everyone wonders what has happened to our society!!! Well I wonder!!

  2. It is true that fast food is overrunning our country. There are way too many children that are over weight and unhealthy. The problem is not, however, from the fast food franchises; the problem is that parent’s do not take control. Kids should eat healthy home cooked meals and get plenty of outdoor excersize, and the parents’ are the one’s that should enforce it. I would be happy to see the fast food joints closed down, but not because of these stupid lawsuits. The joints should close down because parents care about the health of their children and stop buying fast food. Why focus on Mc’d’s anyway? Don’t all fast food places have kid meals with toys? Not to mention all the restaurants I bring my kid to that give him crayons.

  3. Are Cracker Jacks next? This is crazy!!

  4. For those of you who are stupid enough to think banning toys in a happymeal is a why to make a buck be prepared for a counter suit for what you are going to do to my kids and grand kids and the same to many many other kids. The only problem is that you suck as parents if you can't handle your own kids.

  5. Hope this group doesn't go after Cracker Jacks next. Getting that fabulous Pokeman toy is the only reason anyone buys them at the ' old ball park '!

  6. these people should worry more about their on families instead of everyone elses.
    New Jersey

  7. ok you know what obamas trying to drive us in to a great depressoin again so im going to tell you all mckain would havebenn a much better president and i am a black person

  8. I recently seen an Indonesian 2 year old smoke a cigarette like he had been smoking for twenty years. Astonishingly enough a lot of Indonesians were outraged at the foreigner's reporting of this, than the fact that a two year old was smoking. I would much rather have that as a societal standard, than taking kids away from their parents because they gave them a happy meal or taught them that our government is evil. Okay, maybe somewhere in between.

  9. This has to be one of the stupidest lawsuit's I ever heard of. Not that McDonald's food is particularly healthy but still, suing them to take away a kid's little toy, I suppose they could sue doctor's for giving kid's lollipops. That'll teach'em. As regards eating right there is an interesting article here,

    that makes the case that people should just not eat anything that wasn't a food a 100 years ago. Sure get's rid of all the aspartame, trans-fats, GM foods, etc., that they try and pass off as foods these days.

  10. Before too many folks jump on the “let's blame Obama for this” bandwagon, lol, this has been brewing for several years… possibly even for several decades if you consider that Joe Camel was the first casualty in the war against using cartoon characters and merchandising to advertise unhealthy products.

    Kellogg's was sued in 2006 for using cartoon characters and advertising unhealthy cereals directly to small children, and the fast food industry was similarly targeted in 2007. The lawsuit mentioned here is only the latest attack…

    That said, however, I'm guessing that even the unhealthiest choices on kid's menus are probably still healthier options than the meals most children receive at school and in their own homes.

  11. I hope Mcdonalds slaughters these idiots!! They have the right to advertise anyway they like!!! If people dont like it dont eat there…..Freakin idiots another way to try and screw a terrific company!! If parents dont want their kids to eat it then dont take them there

  12. Speaking of turds, how about the turd that occupies the place where your brain must be? Advertising to children before they develop the cognitive capacity to understand that they are the objects of transactional persuasion is per se deceptive and unfair. Since regulatory authorities like the FTC have abdicated their mandated mission as independent protectors of consumers–particularly children–entities like CSPI have had to take up that role.

  13. well lets see… what about sonic, wendy's, and other fast food restaurants that give away toys with a meal… this is soooo stupid!! i know when i was a kid, i always looked forward to getting a toy with the happy meal… what's next… banning the monoply game at mcdonalds?

  14. Courtlandistan, you must think children's parents have turd-for-brains. You make it sound as if children are sponge-minded zombies that are not only helpless before advertising, but that their parents are, as well.

    The consumer has a responsibility not to be a spineless idiot, and the courts have a responsibility to protect law-abiding businesses from harassment like this lawsuit.

  15. Smoking and eating extremely fatty foods are both terribly injurious to your health. If the cigarette companies must put “Cigarettes can cause you great harm” on their packages, then seems only fair that McDonalds must put ” Eating this food can cause you great harm ” on their Happy Meals as well.

  16. I refuse to buy my kids the Happy Meals because I know they only want one for the stupid toy, not the food. I'd be paying $4.00 for a 30 cent toy and throwing away most of a burger, fries and drink. If there was no toy in a Happy Meal and my kids asked for one, I'd know they actually intended to eat the food and would buy one. That should mortify the CSPI. Perhaps I should sue them if they successfully get McDonalds to omit the toy.

  17. Bob, @sponge-minded zombies–you are correct (and also funny), I think the vast body of evidence suggests that children < 8 are in fact unable to discern the persuasive intent of ads. Elaboration likelihood models and numerous studies support this conclusion.

    I am, however, not entirely unsympathetic to the view that adult parents, along with taking responsibility for their own actions, must extend that to their children. The “nag” factor presents a real problem for parents facing limited budgets and time, and the lures cast to their children by big fast food create an intra-family dynamic tension, often resolved by just giving in to the kids' demands for whatever they want. This is also well documented.

    I think the main idea is to continue to draw attention to nefarious ad campaigns that continue to preach the idea that regular consumption of the foods such as McDonalds serves is “fun” “happy” “healthy” “good for you” etc, when in fact such is not the case (ok, maybe fun!) An extension of this idea is the notion is that perhaps drawing people AWAY from fast food and back to whole (read:non- or less- processed) nutritious food might perhaps be a step in reducing obesity, diabetes, dental caries, and habit-forming lifestyle choices that can cause harm over the long-term. I agree fully that the occasional fast-food snack doesn't pose an “imminent serious risk” but I don't think that McDonalds would the periodicity of visits to their establishments to be anything less than 3x daily, 7x a week. They are trying to drive traffic to their restaurants through manipulating kids into begging for it that often.

    All that said, I don't a court will buy the full connection–I would probably focus on restricting the media saturation of toy-meal combos in programming primarily directed at kids 8 or younger.

    (PS: I only used 'turd' because you did … and because it's a funny word–I am sure you brain is a grey as my own)

  18. I expect grownups to be just that: grownups. And grownups can not only make rational decisions regardless of advertising appeals, but can also make decisions for their children. We are not the powerless lumps of clay that liberals would make us out to be.

    And McDonald's should not be shaken down and forced to spend money to defend itself against an idiotic lawsuit that contends we are the aforementioned lumps of clay.

  19. So to paraphrase in the form of questions, 'the right' of McDonald's to engage in commercial speech–a less protected form of speech than say, political protest–to push it goods is, in your mind, more sacrosanct than deterring children from starting down the road toward lifestyle choices that might cause them to die earlier than their parents by restricting ad campaigns directed at them?

    And if the parents are too uneducated or time-strapped to make the best choices for their kids, you say “F-it! They had the kids, and if they can't do a better job of raising them, then the kids should be relegated to a burger-fry-soda saturated set of meals until they become a health-care drag on the nation”?

    You're all heart. Let me know when your screed against public schools comes out.

  20. Unless McDonald's is offering a product that is inherently dangerous (no, despite any liberal whining to the contrary, McDonald's food is not inherently dangerous) or are issuing misleading information, they have done nothing wrong, and there is no legitimate reason to curtail their freedom or punish them for offering a legitimate product.

    If one tried to live on McDonald's food entirely, that probably wouldn't be the most healthy choice, but it isn't inherently dangerous. If parents are doing their job, they will teach their children to eat a balanced diet which can include trips to McDonald's.

    Please, don't insult the parents of America by implying they are so stupid that they can't figure out how to teach and/or discipline their children.

    If you want to make a case that a parent is harming their children, then depending on the circumstances, one might be justifiable.

    But to even consider punishing a legitimate business for offering a legitimate product in a legitimate manner? That is completely un-American.

    Were it not for idiots like those pushing this lawsuit in the first place, I would be totally incredulous to find myself having to explain this to someone as I am right now.

  21. Sure, Brian, just another small slip down the slippery slope of total government control of our lives. What right does the federal government have to tell people what to eat or how to run a lawful business? Is there any aspect of our lives that we can say is only our business? Is there a line that the government cannot cross? If so, who decides where the line is placed?

  22. As for cigarettes, why doesn't the government just ban them outright? At least there would be some historical precedent for that (the1914 Harrison Narcotic Act). As long as they remain legal, then the federal government should just stay out the dispute and leave regulation to the states.

  23. Does one cigarette hurt any one ? No. Does one Happy Meal?No.But repeated abuse of either does and in the case of fatty foods we are seeing an epidemic of childhood obesity, childhood Diabetes and wiill soon see the early vascular damages due to this diabetes such as renal, heart and brain disease which will shorten lives just like cigarettes and it may even be a bigger problem.

    I don't know where the line is, but if we can put out warnings on cigarette packs for children and adults to see, why can't put warnings on Happy Meals and the like for children to see?Seems like either both or neither should be under government perview to me.

  24. I think we agree then the government should stay out of this since smoking and eating fatty foods are legal, but when we leave it to the States, they still have to decide where to draw the line so the problem still exists. Should the individual States decide if women should vote or not in their state or should the states decide to warn people about the dangers of smoking and fatty foods.

    The same problem exists and kicking it down to the states doen't change the initial dilemma how how much power does the government have, whether it be Federal or State.

  25. Incredulity is merely substituting emotion for earnest consideration of what is at stake. CSPI isn't looking to have McDonald's punished, for there is no absolute liberty to engage in commercial speech, particularly when that speech is advertising directed at kids, and thus there is no punishment. Rather the thrust of the threatened action (as I understand it–I have not read the complaint yet) is to (a) bring some restrictions to child-focused advertising and (b) draw attention to the fact that what is being advertised–crap food bundled with toys (yippee!!)–is over the long haul unhealthy to consume.

    It is per se deceptive and unfair to advertise to children, given their limited cognitive processing skills at early ages. McDonald's doesn't face a liberty threat–give kids a break while they are developing and then when they hit their teens, McDonald's can have their crack at them. Perhaps the kids, by that time, will be able to distinguish between healthy choices and garbage without the potent allure of cute cartoon characters inveigling them to suck down shakes and fries and nuggets.

    Back when cigarettes were sold in vending machines, it was commonplace at my junior high school (Addison Jr. High, Roanoke, Virginia) for 13-year olds to smoke at the “smoking wall” on school property, The tobacco industry fought with all its might to curb any restrictions on sales, arguing that (a) their liberty to advertise and sell cigs was threatened, and (b) that there was nothing addictive or harmful about their products.

    Now I am not equating smoking with fast-food consumption (though we are learning just how bad for one's health most fast food is). But free-marketeers who see every challenge to a business's “right” to advertise and sell products to kids–some who might drop into a McDonald's with their lunch money after being dropped off at the school bus stop–as some unpatriotic act seem to have no concern for the health of society as a whole and kids specifically.

  26. I do concede that one logistical problem might be that when one lives in “flyover” country, Mickey D's (and its retail-store analogues) might be the only game in town …

  27. …lol, exactly.

    The problem is not the parents who take their kids to McDonald's… those kids are getting exercise. One bite of the burger and the kids are up and running out the door with their new toy to go play in the McDonaldland PlayPlace 🙂

    The problem is the parents who bring McDonald's food home to their kids and sit in front of the tv to eat it.

  28. McDonald's, as well as every other company in America, has every right to engage in free speech (whether you brand it “commercial”–as if that were some dirty word–or not; your language has a socialist flavor to it). And your snobbish comment about “flyover country” concerning anyone so provincial as to live outside of California smacks of socialist elitism, too.

    It might also interest you (or maybe not) to be told that few children have money of their own, especially those of a tender young age that get excited over Happy Meal toys. Fewer still can drive themselves to McDonalds, especially without parental supervision.

    I'm afraid we're approaching this from two fundamentally different philosophical points. I'm approaching it from the principles of Americanism which holds that people and groups of people have the right to conduct their affairs and interact with others without harassment so long as they are not doing something directly immoral or harmful to the other person. Socialism assumes the average person is too stupid and powerless to think for themselves and must have the government meddle in every area of their lives–at the cost of freedom and self-determination in almost every instance. So I don't think there's much point in continuing this dialog.

    But to leave you with something to think about, consider how this situation might be looked at another way, using just an ounce or two of your own philosophy:

    If there is a certain kind of speech that people should be protected from, it is yours. You undermine the American way of life, as well as suborn the harassment and taking of freedom from a legitimate company conducting legitimate business in a legitimate manner. If anyone's speech is a threat to others, it is yours.

    Something to think about.

  29. My definition of speech? Try Googling “commercial speech Supreme Court” and I believe you will find a well defined approach to the various layers of protection our Constitution (one I served 8 years in the military to protect and defend) confers on various types of speech. I also voted for Reagan in 84 (though honestly that was mainly to avoid the ineffectual Mondale).

    I am not sure I have ever encountered the term Americanism as a defined political philosophy. Perhaps what you are embracing is that version of America where politicians are bought and paid for by business interests to the extent that any challenge to their cozy arrangement can be vilified by slapping the socialist label upon it and letting the wheel spin.

    And spin it has–witness Enron, Dot-bomb rampant stock fraud, mortgage backed securities market meltdown, and of course the zero regulation inspired Gulf oil spill. All examples of government letting rapacious over-reachers play in the markets … who picks up the tab on the back end? You and I, brother. (Is calling you “brother” too Internationale for you?)

    I think that McDonald's people are not necessarily acting in a way they know for sure will cause harm, but I do think that that fast food way of life is, over the long haul, harmful and that kids should be protected from its insidious creeping manipulations, at least until they can form the cognitive skills to deal potentially with the onslaught.

    The American way of life used to be defined by slavery, gender and sexual orientation discrimination, child labor, segregation and even dirty water– but hell, even Nixon had the prescience to know that regulating clean water would be a boon to public health. Was he a Socialist?

    At any rate, whether we pay on the front end via regulation or pay in the aftermath of some tragedy, we have to pay. And when the country, whether flyover (I knew that would get your old goat) or Left Coast is swollen with high-fructose corn syrup (subsidized no less!) and greasy factory hamburger patties (have you seen Food, Inc.?) to the point where medical intervention is necessary, we will pay in another way.

    I hope we never stop this discussion, but right now I have some '05 Napa Valley Cabernet to savor while watching some World Cup highlights. Talk about a Socialist sport!

  30. “Commercial speach” is a construct, a classification of freedom made up by those who despise capitalism and successful businesses. There is nothing in the Constitution which classifies or distinguishes the freedom of one individual from the freedom of many individuals joined together into a group, organization or business. Under the Constitution and the American way of life, a business or organization should have the same freedom of speech and the same basic protecdtions as an individual. We aren't a Marxist nation that seeks to punish success (or we shouldn't be, if we were true to our foundations).

    The fact that you are operating from the Marxist philosophical foundation is evident both from your inherent animosity toward business, as well as your statement about “politicians are bought and paid for by business interests.” That may very well happen, but it is not the fault of business, but rather the fault of those who sell their favors. The corrupt politician should be punished (with rejection at the ballot box or, if applicable, criminal punishment); the business should not be punished for making campaign contributions.

    It has become pretty transparent that your inherent Marxist loathing for business is driving you to a position that is indefensible both by common sense and the principles of Americanism. That is why I said there is no point in us continuing a conversation.

    Your assumptions are diametrically opposed to the American way of life and are eroding freedom and prosperity in our nation. I am committed to repairing and maintaining the American way of life, and will not under any circumstances surrender those principles that have brought us unparalleled freedom and prosperity. So there is no point in us butting heads any longer, until you recognize that you have embraced a mindset that is in direct opposition to the foundational principles of our country, and change your way of thinking.