You can get loads of calories or a toy

Children eat a Happy Meal at a McDonald's.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Another vote caught our eye today -- but it had less to do with Republicans and Democrats toying around with politics and more to do with the trinkets in all those so-called "Happy Meals." The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is banning restaurants from giving away toys in certain kids' meals -- ones with too many calories and too few fruits and vegetables.

Typically, the fast food kind. So that got us wondering, how much is the "happy" in the Happy Meal really worth?

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.


Jennifer Collins: For kids, the McNuggets and fries are only part of the fun.

McDonald's ad: You can get wickedly tasty food and a super toy from the new Dreamworks movie "Megamind." There's one in your McDonald's Happy Meal.

For now. But if you're a kid in San Francisco or parts of Silicon Valley, there won't be any toys next year. Officials are banning toys in kids' meals that are high in fat and have more than 600 calories.

Daniel Conway is a spokesman for the California Restaurant Association.

Daniel Conway: Kids in San Francisco are going to be opening boxes next December and be very disappointed to see that they're empty.

They won't be the only ones. The top fast food chains sell more than a billion meals with toys a year to kids. Margo Wootan is with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Margo Wootan: Our kids begging us to go to McDonald's to get the latest toy tied into their favorite movie means the whole family ends up eating at McDonald's.

Happy Meal toys like "Megamind" can also be worth millions in licensing deals and free advertising to movie companies. Edward Jay Epstein is the author of "The Hollywood Economist." He says that toy tie-ins can determine whether a studio actually makes a movie or not.

Edward Jay Epstein: They certainly can't put up the money themselves, they're already strained in their advertising budget. So they might decide not to do the movie.

Yet another reason to cry into those burgers and fries.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

Moon: So what do you think -- should toys should be banned from kids' meals? Take our poll.

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