Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Some companies occasionally look at themselves in the mirror.
McDonald’s has clearly decided to see a shrink.
It’s begun to address so many of the issues that, for years, frustrated real people.
On Thursday, however, the company went even further toward, well, changing itself.
It’s decided to make Happy Meals healthy.
Or, at least, healthier.
In a possibly momentous statement, the burger maker is promising that at least 50 percent of its kids’ Happy Meals will meet its nutrition criteria.
You have to decide how stringent these criteria are.
They must contain 600 calories or less, have no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, no more than 650 mg sodium, and no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar.
Added sugar. What a concept. Somehow, these fast-food chains actually needed to add sugar to make their meals attractive.
McDonald’s says that 28 percent of its Happy Meals already meet its criteria. Which means that 72 percent don’t.
That’s how much work needs to be done.
You also have to decide how much progress this represents.
For McDonald’s, it’s all about a promise to offer “more balanced meals, simplify ingredients, continue to be transparent with Happy Meal nutrition information, reinforce responsible marketing to children, and leverage innovative marketing to help impact the purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food groups in Happy Meals.”
How strong are all these commitments?
Yes, McDonald’s is making its chocolate milk with less sugar. It’s also making the fries that come with its Chicken McNuggets smaller. (Kiddie Fries, anyone?)
But parents will still have to monitor how much kids eat, what and how often.
Some countries are already testing new additions to Happy Meals.
In Italy, for example, they’re trying a Junior Chicken, a leaner, healthier chicken sandwich.
There might even be a drift toward more vegetables and even vegan options.
And McDonald’s certainly wants to offer hopeful statistics. It says that “for the first time, more than half of Happy Meals ordered in the U.S. have included water, milk or juice as their beverage of choice.”
The question, of course, is whether the kids themselves will begin to rebel.
And, of course, whether parents will be disciplined enough to order Happy Meals that make kids’ bodies happy, not just than kids’ appetites.
Progress is rarely swift when it comes to fast food.