Fat or Foul?
April 28, 2010


So the news hit today that a county in California has banned fast food toys in some fashion. As someone who designed these toys for many years I’m of two minds on the subject.

First and foremost, it’s not really the government’s job to police what you are allowed to purchase if it is not harmful. Yes, childhood obesity is a pretty bad thing, and is even worse for our future than it is today (see: Wall-E). But I’d much rather see them crack down on the way things are cooked, the ingredients in them, and the choices being offered first. I do applaud that they at least try to make this make sense, and only take away toys from kids’ meals that exceed a certain calorie/fat level. But the sad fact is that pretty much all of them exceed that level.

What makes me not hate this altogether is that I think by leaning so heavily on licenses you are de facto bribing the kids to eat at your restaurant. Fast food places learned in the 1980s that kids are the one who make the decision where to eat in the family, and they saw that by dangling the best toy property in front of those kids they’ll win the battle. Dave Thomas never liked that Wendy’s had toys, because he wanted the food to stand on its own feet. But he was realistic enough to know that he couldn’t compete with McDonald’s and Burger King without them.

I think it you went back to having non-licensed toys that are once again just something to keep kids quiet and not used as a traffic builder/profit center it might make the licenses last a bit longer in the retail toy world instead of burning out so quick, and let creativity and craftsmanship rise in the fast food toys without having the license as a crutch. And maybe then parents and kids would pick the place to eat at that had the best food and not the coolest superhero of the month.


Jason "ToyOtter" Geyer
AFi Editor-In-Chief Jason Geyer has been part of the online pop culture world for nearly 20 years, having founded some of the very first toy sites on the web including Raving Toy Maniac, ToyOtter, and now Action Figure Insider. Along the way he helped pioneer online coverage of industry events such as San Diego Comic Con, E3, Toy Fair, and CES. He is also a former toy designer who is now a marketing genius. If he does say so himself. And he does.
Read other articles by Jason "ToyOtter" Geyer.





  • Hourman says:

    I don’t want the government involved in what goes in my kid’s Happy Meal. Enough is enough, and this is too far to the point of absurdity.

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  • Lt. Clutch says:

    I remember enjoying the old McDonaldland toys and Happy Meal boxes from the early 80’s. I once had a plastic train set which was pretty neat for a kid’s toy. The only huge licenses around that time were stuff such as Burger King’s Star Wars Trilogy glasses. It’s gotten way out of control since then.

  • stewbacca says:

    Just one more reason Im glad I dont live in California…

    Whats next no more video games because its there fault kids dont go outside and are fat.

    How about the fact that to eat healthy costs about 3x as much as “junk food” so to some people that is the only option. Why doesnt the grilled chicken sandwich ever go on the “value menu”.

    Get real..

  • jimster2010 says:

    Do these people know that you can buy the toy without meal at most restuarants. I do it all of the time when they have something Batman related in their happy meals.

  • Danny CantinaDan says:

    Appreciate your perspective on this, Jason! I don’t know what the solution is to childhood obesity but I feel like this county in CA is overreaching.

  • demoncat says:

    i am on you with the restuarants should be looking at different healtheir methods for making their foods not so fat not just ban the toy for the kids will then once the law goes into effect go some where else to eat to get the toy. and the restuarant is going to get the business any way. for the happy meal toy and others like it is one reason kids like and eat fast food. the main reason. restuarants know that to get the parents get the kids.ca is going about trying to make kids eat better the wrong way. for no toy with meal kids will not go to the place to eat.

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