Well, if our parents sent in the money each day (I think it was only something like $1.50 for lunch, possibly less), along with a note of what to order. Back then the choices were simple, we were allowed to chose either a hamburger, cheeseburger, or fillet o'fish sandwich (I don't even think they had chicken nuggets back when I was in elementary school. How's that for showing my age?), small fries, and either milk or a small soda pop. Yes, I said a soda pop. To children. Children in elementary school. I sure bet our teachers back then were lovin' it. Probably not so much.
This was the 70's and it was also at a small private school in Duarte, California. The school has since moved to Azusa, CA and it's even smaller than it was when I attended, all those years ago. I can't find a web site for Light and Life Christian school, otherwise I'd link. It wasn't long after I left the school that they stopped providing McDonald's and built a cafeteria. Thankfully my own daughter's private school provides hot, healthy lunches every single day, locally sourced, and with nary a McNasty anywhere in it!
While my mom didn't let me get McDonald's every day, I do remember begging her pretty often. I'm certain that those early fat and sodium laden meals helped contribute to other unhealthy eating habits I'd develop later in life.
Eventually the marketing team at McDonald's discovered that if you stick a toy in with a hamburger or cheeseburger, and call it "Happy", they'd have the perfect missile to deliver straight to the hearts and arteries of America's youth. This was 1979. I was still wearing plaids and ponytails secured with big, bright yarn, and it was my last year at Light and Life. My parents had joined the Mormon church and decided that secular school was good enough for me.
I don't know if Light and Life ever offered McDonald's for lunch that morphed into the Happy Meals, but I do remember thinking, as I stared into the mystery meat that the lunch lady had slopped on my tray at my new public school, that I sure was missing a nice hot hamburger, salty fries, and a fizzy Coke . . . and maybe even a toy McBurgler or Ronald McDonald. I remember being seriously bummed when the Star Trek Meal was introduced in December of 1979 and how I was losing out on Star Trek comic strips and games that were given out with the meals. I always kinda hoped they'd stick a furry little Tribble in there, nestled amongst my fries.
Fast forward more years than I care to calculate and McDonald's has adopted almost every beloved children's television and movie character and marketed those along with their unhealthy Happy Meals to children the world over. I know I know, you're running around picking up Ashley from ballet, Jackson from soccer, and your oldest, Mason from football practice. There's no time to put together a quick, fresh, healthy meal. The kids are all moaning about how they're going to starve to death so you pull the minivan in through your local McDonald's and ply your kids with Happy Meals and a Extra Value Meal (super-sized of course for your linebacker), for your kids. Being a bit more health conscious you order yourself a large Diet Coke and a small order of french fries. Your kids are happily munching their meals, and playing with their toys. All is peaceful and happy in minivan-land until Jackson grabs the Zooble from his sister's happy meal and tosses it in the back of the van to the family's napping schnauzer, Rowdy. You make a quick stop on the way home to the emergency veterinarian's office in order to have the Zooble removed from Rowdy's stomach.
OK so maybe the weeknight scenario doesn't play out exactly like what I painted above, but I imagine there have been times when it's similar. McDonald's has masterfully marketed their crap to our kids for over the past almost 25 years, and we've bought it, hook, line, and sinker. Is it any wonder that we've also seen an alarming rise in the rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure among our kids? Obesity among our youth is at epidemic rates in this country. What's that? You can't hear me over the cacophony of Burger King's creepy king on TV trying to interest your kid in one of their own children's meals, while your kids gripe about how they got stuck with either a Bey Blade or Zooble in their Happy Meals and there's King Creep, hawking an actual live monkey (or not) in it's kid's meal!
As we watch our children grow fatter and sicker, parents have finally had enough of the direct marketing of this crap to our kids, and this Mother's Day, parents are singing another refrain, "we're not lovin' it!" Marketing this McJunk to our children is predatory and it's time to hold the corporate suits at fast food companies accountable.
This Mother's Day, let's send a message, a loud and clear message that we don't need to wake up to a tray covered with McMuffins, sugar laden, food starch stuffed, crap they call oatmeal, with a side of greasy hash browns to boot, and a lukewarm cup of coffee. McDonald's marketing refers to parents as "gatekeepers", instead, let's step up and show them we aren't just gatekeepes, but we're actually parents who have had enough of this, that we're actually #MomsNotLovinIt, and that enough is enough!
Join me and women like Jessica Gottlieb in letting McDonald's know loud and clear that it's time to leave our kids alone, by adding your voice and signature at MomsNotLovinIt.org, and then as Jessica asks, " share the message far and wide." Use the hashtag #MomsNotLovinIt on Twitter and Facebook.
Because this is so important to me, through Sunday I'm going to hold a flash giveaway of sorts, that was inspired by Leah Segedie of Mamavation offering the same, that I'll randomly chose one person and give them $50.00 either in the form of a VISA gift card or direct deposit to your PayPal account for using the hashtag, #MomsNotLovinIt. Yes m'dears, I'm putting my money were a Big Mac used to be . . . my mouth! When you Tweet (be sure and follow me on Twitter!) or use Facebook (if you aren't already friends with me on Facebook, what are you waiting for! I'd love to connect with you out there!) be sure and use the hashtag #MomsNotLovinIt, and cc @Barking_Mad on Twitter or tag me on Facebook. Sunday at 10PM EDT I'll choose a winner of the $50. 00.
Listen, I'm not judging you for the occasional Happy Meal, or Big Mac. I'd be a hypocrite if I did. However, don't you think it's time we stood up for our kids, asked these companies who have been heavily profiting off of our kids, while our kids grow sicker and fatter, to back off?
This giveaway has not been sponsored by #MomsNotLovinIt.org or any other entity. Further Contest/Giveaway Disclosure and Rules can be found here.