The New Kids' Meal Selections: Your Thoughts?

McDonald’s now offers a choice of soda, low fat plain milk, or low fat chocolate milk with their Happy Meals. They also offer apple wedges instead of fries.

Wendy’s offers mandarin oranges instead of fries. They also offer the additional milk choices for drinks.

Subway has begun touting itself as a healthy alternative for children in commercials.

To my knowledge, Burger King is offering no alternative selections.
Now, how does this change your opinion on fast food for kids, if at all? Would you buy your child a Happy Meal with milk and apples? A Kid’s Meal with chocolate milk and oranges? Do you think your children would enjoy it? Would you feel better about such a “Happy Meal”? Do Subway’s kid’s meals count as healthier, even with that huge oily cookie?

My experience- We bought Son of Stonebow a Happy Meal, with the chocolate milk, fries, and a cheese burger*, a couple of day ago. He loved it, and drank every bit, whereas the soda was often wasted. I’m quite certain he’d enjoy the apples/oranges, too. He’s almost 3.


*Lest you be concerned over the nutrition of my child, we view such things as a treat and not standard food. My children get McDonald’s food once a week, if that.

That would work for us. We only go about once a month and they are mainly in it for the toys. My daughter actually doesn’t like fries much, and both kids would probably prefer milk to the Hi-C we usually get. Neither of them likes soda at all. How do they keep the apple wedges from getting brown, though?

My son is 15, and when he was little we always got kids meals with milk, at no extra charge. I don’t think they had any fresh fruit, though.

I’m jealous. When my kids were little, the ONLY thing you could get to drink at a fast food place was soda. Maybe, if you were lucky, “orange drink,” which was basically uncarbonated soda. We didn’t frequent those spots often, anyway, but my youngest was completely unable to sit still for a couple of years and if we weren’t eating at home, diners and real restaurants were completely out of the question. I’d have loved to be able to get fresh fruit, juices or milk of any kind, even chocolate.

When I first saw the commercials, my first thought was that it was ‘healthy’ food.
I say ‘healthy’ because I wonder how good for kids that stuff really is.

The apples, IIRC, come with a caramel dipping sauce.
The manadarin oranges come in a syrup.
The chocolate milk sounds pretty sugary.

I realize that these choices are probably better than fries, but I have to wonder if they are a good choice, all things considered.

yes, I know it’s a snack and not eaten all the time. I’m just questioning the validity of their healthful claims, is all.

Being vegetarians, we don’t do the fast food thing, but fruit rather than fries? Milk rather than soda? That can’t hurt, if only to lower fat intake and sugar intake in kids who might otherwise not get any fruit or milk in their diets. (Thinking of the kids who eat a lot of fast food, obviously.) But I’m afraid that this is going to backfire with more parents (especially the dumb ones) thinking that there’s nothing wrong with making fast food a regular part of their kids’ diets, rather than an occasional treat.

Now, as for Subway, their ads touting their food as healthy alternatives for kids are so terribly offensive that I cannot fathom giving them any consideration or any business. They’re advocating having your kids eat Subway in order to lose weight so that other kids don’t make fun of them anymore. I nearly threw up. Subway, and their oily cookies and fat-laden bread (I was surprised how fatty their bread is) can pucker up and kiss something.

I haven’t had it yet - but from the picture, it looks like those apple wedges come with caramel sauce… is it really a healthier alternative or is McD’s just shoving sugar at kids instead of salt & starch?

Bad News Baboon, you may be correct in your assessment about the sugar in the milk and orange syrup. I think it boils down to a “lesser of two evils” choice, rather than truly healthy.

amarinth, if it were me, I’d surreptitiously dispose of the caramel (I believe it comes in a separate package) and let the kid eat the apples. You really can’t make the fat and salt disappear out of the fries.

Anyway, that’ my whole take on it: Not really healthy, but lesser of two evils.


My child is too young for fast food, so I asked my brother what he thought.

He said:

Does it really matter? I can’t tell you how many times they have begged for McDonalds, crying that they were starving. The second the toy was pulled out, the meal was forgotten. It’s not about the food. It’s all about the toys.

My son is 6 and he’s always gotten milk instead of soda at McD’s.

Great idea – Pepper Mill and I have been talking about this for a while, since when we go out anywhere MilliCal seems to inevitably get chicken nuggets and fries.

“There aren’t any vegetables,” my nutrition-conscious wife would complain.

Now, spontaneously, a lot of restaurants have decided to offer such choices. At Applebees you used to just be able to get french fries as a kids’ side. Now you can get celery sticks, carrots, and broccoli. (For some bizarre reason, MilliCal loves broccoli. I don’t know where kids get such things – definitely not from me.)

We go to McDs once a month or so, and the last few times I’ve gotten the apple slices and milk. I like it much better, and the kids are happy as long as it comes in the brightly-printed box. I can’t guarantee it, but I think the caramel sauce was fat free, and it was a pretty small serving at that. For whomever asked above, the slices are all peeled and prepackaged in little plastic baggies, so they stay unbrown and relatively fresh.

If I were a kid now, and I got apple pieces instead of fries, I would feel ripped off.

I’m sure this is exactly what McD’s, et. al. is hoping for.

I suppose it’s a good idea, but I don’t personally take my kids to McDonalds often enough for it to be a concern - maybe once or twice a month - I’m quite happy for them to eat fried, energy-dense foods when they go there - unhealthy foods don’t exist, only unhealthy diets.

I do welcome the diversity though; it used to be the case that I would sit and just drink a cup of coffee while my kids ate their meal, but they do a range of salads here in the UK now and they are actually not bad.

My only concern – and it bugs me each time I see the ads – is that the milk is reduced fat. Wendy’s seems awfully proud of the fact that the white milk they offer for children is 2%.

Um, aren’t kids supposed to drink whole milk? Seems like they’re marketing this stuff to the adults without thinking about what’s actually better for the kids. Not that I thought they were so concerned about the kids before…it just bugs me.

Gakk, 2% is awful, I don’t know how people drink it w/o flavouring, once you’ve had homo milk, you cannot drink 2% etc without gagging.

Really, you can get used to the other types as well. I grew up in Wisconsin (“the dairy state”), my grandparents were farmers, and I switched from drinking homogenized/whole milk as a kid, 2% as a teen, to skim. My husband didn’t think he could handle a change from 2% to skim, but he prefers it now. Taper down the fat level by mixing it with the next-lowest version in ever-increasing ratios of lighter to fatter, and you can wean (no pun intended) down to lower-fat forms.

Kids under the age of 2 are supposed to drink whole milk. Two-year-olds and up should be drinking the same reduced fat or skim milk adults drink, unless for some reason they have very little other fat in their diets.

Actually, I was under the impression that all milk we drink is homogenized. Maybe you’re just thinking of whole milk.

Well, the caramel has 65 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 14 grams of sugar, assuming that all of the carbs in it are sugar (McD’ doesn’t specify.) It also is only 21 grams, about half the size of the nugget sauces, so you’re not really gonna kill your kid with a little caramel. If you choose for him not to have it, though, that’s not really any big deal either. I like them plain or with the caramel.

And people get worked up over this. I got cussed out, like hardcore, from some trailer trash woman that decided that “McDonald’s was trying to get her kid fat (Hello? He’s a f-ing 747 already?!) by feeding him caramel! He wants his french fries, and don’t you EVER try to give him caramel again!!!” Just because I asked whether or not he wanted apple dippers or french fries. I almost pitted that woman, because the argument didn’t stop there.

Oh, the chocolate milk has slightly more calories and fat then the Hi-C Orange, but less sugar.