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5 things you probably didn’t know about McDonald’s Happy Meals

The popular kid's meal has its roots during our favorite decade.
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Published Feb. 15, 2018

Oh, McDonalds. We can't quit you – even though at our age our doctors would really like us to. Maybe with the help of changes to their Happy Meals, we won't have to.

McDonalds announced this week that it will offer more "balanced" kids meals as part of its Happy Meal program by 2022. Meals would have 600 calories or less with no more than 10 percent of calories coming from saturated fat.

If you're thinking back to your youth, you'd probably swear Happy Meals were an invention of the '80s – very, very close but technically not true.

Happy Meals were born in June 1979 in fact (so really they were around for your entire '80s childhood).

Here are five things you probably didn't know about McDonalds' Happy Meals.

1. The idea for them came from Guatemala in the mid-'70s where a store operator created a menu just for kids called the "Menu Ronald." The idea made its way to Mickey D's HQ in Chicago. Eventually, the decision was made that the special menu should get its own unique packaging.

2. The first Happy Meals contained one of these toys: a stencil, a McDonald-themed wallet, an ID bracelet, a puzzle lock, a spinning top or a McDonaldland character eraser.

3. Over the years, Happy Meals also have been used to promote family-friendly movies – the first being 1979's Star Trek: The Movie.

4. Sometimes the movie tie-in backfired, as it did with 1992's Batman Returns. Parents complained the movie was too violent and so McDonalds withdrew its Happy Meal campaign.

5. In 1987, on the 10th anniversary of the Happy Meal, McDonalds recognized the the ad exec who conceived the idea by presenting him with a full-sized bronze replica of a Happy Meal box.