The internet is celebrating a courageous teenager who got pissed off six years ago when a McDonald’s McDouble slinger offered her a “girl’s toy” with her Happy Meal. I know we set the bar for heroes pretty low these days, but I’m not sure we should include someone who is still pissed they were offered a free My Little Pony toy when they were a tween. The girl recounted her horrific tale this week on Slate:
In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”
The girl’s letter begs the question of which is more likely – that her annoying parents wrote the letter, or that there exists an 11 year old who both wants a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy yet is well versed in Title VII discrimination suits? Regardless of who wrote the letter, the McNugget eating little warrior wasn’t satisfied with Mayor McCheese’s legal response:
A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.
This response was unsatisfying, so I began visiting more than a dozen local McDonald’s locations with my father to collect data.
Let the great experiment begin! A girl and her father then began a fried food road trip to (almost) tens of restaurants. The results were shocking, as according to their “evidence,” which I like to believe was written in the 11 year old’s unisex colored crayons, the McDonald’s employees described the toys as “boy toys” or “girl toys” 79 percent of the time. One assumes that “boy toys” are Hot Wheels and Power Rangers, and not how I paid my college tuition with just a banana hammock and a killer pair of pecs.
Now, you may think the way cheap chinese toys are categorized by stoned high school fast food workers is a trivial issue, but you’d be wrong!
The problem with Happy Meal toys may seem trivial to some, but consider this: McDonald’s is estimated to sell more than 1 billion Happy Meals each year.
Did you consider it? Because I did consider it, and my conclusion was that if someone is selling more than a billion of something, it’s probably because customers want it. It’s immediately apparent to anyone without a useless sociology degree (or in this case someone on the fast track for one) that either people don’t give a shit what McDonald’s calls their toy lines, or that they prefer the status quo. In fact, that’s probably why there are two lines in the first place. They saw there was a market for having different toys for boys and girls, and they exploited that market.
Now this high school student, her overbearing father, and a useless non-profit are out for blood via the irrational media. But even if these bold crusaders win, the victory will be nothing – because McDonald’s employees suck. They’re not going to listen to some memo from corporate. Suppose you’re someone who is afraid of whatever the hell special sauce is. Try to go into a McDonald’s and ordering a Big Mac with no special sauce. It won’t work. Does anyone think they the employees purposefully screwing up your meal because corporate tells them to? Of course not. It doesn’t matter what McDonald’s employees are told, they do what they want. Their still going to call them boy toys and girl toys no matter what the policy is.
If people are really concerned with gender toy identity and other bullshit affecting kids, they should start by teaching kids not to be such wusses. If someone offers you a girl toy and you want a boy toy, just say you want a boy toy. Guess what? No one gives a shit. They’ll give you a boy toy. Hell, if you ask for a box of triangle McFlurry spoons as your Happy Meal toy, the pothead behind the counter will give it to you just so he can go on his smoke break early.
In the end if a billion people are happy with the Happy Meal status quo, then it’s not a problem – it’s the way people want it to be. If you don’t want it to be that way, then politely request that it be different for you – like I do with special sauce. If they still put special sauce on your sandwich, scrape it off . Its easier than writing a five paragraph essay – though it may leave the Huffington Post with less “news” to cover.