Arkansas McDonald’s celebrates Happy Meal 40th anniversary with favorite toys from past four decades


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — McDonald’s is unlocking that childhood joy across the globe in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first-ever Happy Meal by introducing the limited-edition Surprise Happy Meal, featuring favorite throwback toys from the past four decades. Starting Thursday, Nov. 7, the Surprise Happy Meal will be available in Arkansas and more than 90 countries around the world through Monday, Nov. 11 or while supplies last. Through this global event, fans of all ages are invited to join in the fun and discover what old or new favorite awaits them.

“Since the Happy Meal was introduced on the menu, it quickly became synonymous with our brand,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO. “Today, this iconic red box creates lasting memories for billions of families annually across the world.”

First introduced as a Circus Wagon Happy Meal in June 1979 nationally in the U.S., the early iterations of the Happy Meal featured a decorative box including various toys such as a spinning top and McDonaldland character erasers. The Happy Meal global footprint has expanded to more than 38,000 restaurants around the globe – with the iconic toy still a beloved staple, serving as a symbol of surprise, playfulness and fun.

Curious which toys stood out as most popular over the past 40-years? The official lineup of the 17 toys coming to the Surprise Happy Meal in Arkansas includes:

  • Cowboy McNugget (McDonald’s): 1988
  • Fireman McNugget (McDonald’s): 1988
  • Mail Carrier McNugget (McDonald’s): 1988
  • Hamburger Changeable (McDonald’s): 1989
  • Grimace (McDonald’s): 1990
  • Dino Happy Meal Box Changeable (McDonald’s): 1991
  • McDonald’s Hot Wheels Thunderbird (Mattel): 1993
  • Hamburglar (McDonald’s): 1995
  • Power Rangers (Hasbro): 1995
  • Space Jam Bugs Bunny (Warner Brothers): 1996
  • Patti the Platypus (Ty Beanie Baby): 1997
  • 101 Dalmatians (Disney): 1997 – only available in the U.S.
  • Tamagotchi (Bandai): 1998
  • My Little Pony (Hasbro): 1998
  • Furby (Hasbro): 1999
  • Mickey’s Sorcerer Apprentice (Disney): 2002 – only available in the U.S.
  • Hello Kitty (Sanrio): 2013

“Parents tell us how fondly they recall their favorite toys,” said Colin Mitchell, McDonald’s Senior Vice President, Global Marketing. “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.”

In addition to creating fun, family moments with memorable toys, the Happy Meal is well-loved for delicious favorites like Chicken McNuggets and hamburgers. Over the years, many new, balanced choices have been added around the world, such as fruits and vegetables, to evolve with consumer expectations and increase families’ access to recommended food groups. In the U.S., McDonald’s has served more than 3.4 billion fruit, low-fat dairy and water options in the Happy Meal since 2013. Following the removal of soda from U.S. Happy Meal menu boards in 2013, there has been a 15 percent increase (from 37% to 52%) in the number of Happy Meals served with milk, water or juice.

Beginning in 2020, McDonald’s will introduce a Reduced Sugar Low Fat Chocolate Milk in the U.S. as the latest step in this evolution. The version will have 25% less sugar than the previous fat free milk offered. Additionally, this version will have 25% less sugar than leading quick service restaurants’ low fat chocolate milk options. As part of McDonald’s Global Happy Meal Goals announced in 2018, the company announced that chocolate milk would be reformulated to reduce the amount of added sugar.

The Surprise Happy Meal will only be available for a limited time so fans both young and old are encouraged to visit their local McDonal’s starting Thursday, Nov. 7 to get their hands on one of the throwback favorites!


Surprise Happy Meal Toy Images:

Surprise Happy Meal Toy Reveal Video:

Surprise Happy Meal Toy Infographic:

History of the Happy Meal Infographic:

Historical Happy Meal Images from the McDonald’s Archive:

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories