McDonald's is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Happy Meal by bringing back some classics for a limited time.

By Mike Pomranz
November 01, 2019

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the McDonald's Happy Meal (if you don't know what that is, I don't know whether to congratulate your parents or scold them) which first launched nationwide in June 1979. And McDonald's is celebrating in the most Happy Meal way possible: The burger chain is bringing back 17 of the most beloved Happy Meal toys of the past four decades and will be doling these retro treats out in new, limited-edition Surprise Happy Meals.

McDonald's

Are you ready for a nostalgia trip? Here are all the toys that will be returning for just a handful of days next week: 1988's Cowboy McNugget, Fireman McNugget, and Mail Carrier McNugget, 1989's Hamburger Changeable transforming toy, 1990's Grimace, 1991's Dino Happy Meal Box Changeable, 1993's McDonald's Hot Wheels Thunderbird, 1995's Hamburglar, 1995's Power Rangers, 1996's Space Jam Bugs Bunny, 1997's Patti the Platypus (yup, the Beanie Baby is back), 1997's 101 Dalmatians, 1998's Tamagotchi digital pet, 1998's My Little Pony, 1999's Furby, 2002's Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey, and 2013's Hello Kitty.

Hammering home the global impact of the Happy Meal, McDonald's will be offering Surprise Happy Meals in over 90 countries—though two of the toys (101 Dalmatians and Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey) are U.S. exclusives. In the States, this promotion will only last from Thursday, November 7 to Monday, November 11 while supplies last—and if the past 40 years have taught us anything about coveted Happy Meal toys, supplies may not last.

"Parents tell us how fondly they recall their favorite toys," Colin Mitchell, McDonald's SVP of global marketing, said in the announcement. "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."

But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement either. McDonald's is also using this anniversary to announce that, in 2020, the chain will introduce Reduced Sugar Low Fat Chocolate Milk as a new, healthier Happy Meal option. That said, it will also be interesting to see what happens to the Happy Meals toys themselves moving forward: As environmentally-conscious diners continue to push back against plastic waste, we've seen increased discussion about whether plastic toys should be replaced or at least be optional. Revisiting the toys of the past is certainly cool, but the future could be equally interesting.

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