To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the very first Happy Meal ever served, McDonald's is throwing it back old school and releasing a limited-edition Surprise Happy Meal. But just what makes McDonald's Surprise Happy Meals something parents are going to want to pick up? Each of McDonald's Surprise Happy Meals includes a throwback toy from past Happy Meals, meaning your kid's next meal just might come with a blast from your own past.
First rolled out in 1979, the McDonald's Happy Meal has since become something of a childhood icon. And while what's inside a Happy Meal has evolved over the last 40 years, the meal continues to serve up a hamburger or chicken nuggets, with a side, a drink and, of course, a toy. To celebrate 40 years of Happy Meals, McDonald's announced plans to re-release a number of fan-favorite toys as part of its limited-edition Surprise Happy Meals on Thursday. According to the fast food chain, 15 throwback toys will be released globally with two additional retro toys — both Disney exclusives — set to only be released in the United States.
"Since the Happy Meal was introduced on the menu, it quickly became synonymous with our brand," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement. "Today, this iconic red box creates lasting memories for billions of families annually across the world."
The throwback toys set to get nestled in Happy Meal boxes around the world will span the late 1980s through to 2013. They include the McNugget Buddies from 1988, McDonaldland's Grimace and Hamburglar from the early 1990s, Power Rangers action figures from 1995, a "Teenie beanie Baby" from 1997, Tamagotchi from 1998, Furby from 1999, and a Hello Kitty toy from 2013.
And while the toys brought back into circulation for McDonald's new Surprise Happy Meal are ultimately meant to delight little ones, the fast food chain hopes parents and caregivers will be able to get in on the fun of potentially reliving a bit of their own childhood. "Parents tell us how fondly they recall their favorite toys," McDonald's Senior Vice President of Global Marketing Colin Mitchell said in a statement. "So, unboxing the Surprise Happy Meal together creates a real moment of bonding with their children. We hope these toys are something that they will treasure and remember."
Parents worried about the fried foods once synonymous with Happy Meals, may also take heart at the changes McDonald's has introduced to the kid's meal over recent years. Since 2012, McDonald's has moved to make a number of healthy swaps, including exchanging soda with milk and bottled water, adding fresh apple slices or a Yoplait Go-Gurty Yogurt to every Happy Meal, and removing artificial preservatives from both their hamburgers and chicken nuggets.
But like most flashbacks, this one won't last long. McDonald's Surprise Happy Meals will only be available while supplies last from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11. Get yours — and indulge in a little retro playtime with your child — before their gone.