To Skirt Ban, McDonald’s to Charge for Happy Meal Toys in San Francisco

To get around a new law that bans giveaways in kids' meals, toys will now cost an extra dime.

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David Paul Morris / Getty Images

A photo illustration of a Happy Meal at McDonald's on November 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California

In an effort to skirt a new San Francisco law that bans toy giveaways in kids’ meals that don’t comply with the city’s strict nutritional standards, local McDonald’s restaurants have found a McLoophole: charging an extra 10 cents for the plastic toys.

The controversial Healthy Food Incentives Ordinance, which goes into effect on Thursday, was passed last fall by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The idea behind the law was to crack down on rewarding children for eating unhealthy meals full of fat, sodium and sugar, but drew scrutiny from those who claimed it was a form of “nanny politics.”

Instead of just doing away with the toys — or actually making the meals healthy enough to comply — McDonald’s owners in the Bay area decided to circumvent the ordinance altogether. Now, if you order a Happy Meal at one of the 19 McDonald’s restaurants in the area, you will be given a choice to purchase the toy for an extra dime — the proceeds of which will support the Ronald McDonald House charity.

(MORE: How McDonald’s Plans to Make Happy Meals Healthier)

“This law is not what my customers wanted or asked for, but the law’s the law,” Scott Rodrick, owner of 10 McDonald’s franchises in the city, told the San Francisco Chronicle, noting that his restaurants sell thousands of Happy Meals per year.

While McDonald’s establishments in some regions have started to make moves toward healthier meals by offering apple slices and milk instead of sodas and fries, NewsFeed can’t imagine that these wholesome choices are as popular as the original meals. Not to mention that the effort to combat child obesity often begins at home and in schools, and arguably has not much to do with little toys.

Still, we’re glad that San Francisco children won’t be missing out on the Happy Meal toys altogether (the proceeds are going to charity after all), especially their current prizes: Hello Kitty and Bakugan toys. Ah, to be a kid again.

MORE: Mom and Consumer Group Sue McDonald’s For Luring Kids with Happy Meal Toys