The McDonald’s Happy Meal, the fast-food giant’s signature offering for kids, officially turns 40 this year. To celebrate, the company has unveiled its latest themed meal, the Surprise Happy Meal, which will feature an assortment of throwback toys from years past. McDonald’s mascots Grimace and the Hamburglar, the McNugget Pals, Tamogotchi, and even the Power Rangers are all represented.
Here’s the full line-up of toys being offered, including the year they were originally included in McDonald’s Happy Meals:
- Cowboy McNugget (McDonald’s): 1988
- Fireman McNugget (McDonald’s): 1988
- Mail Carrier McNugget (McDonald’s): 1988
These McNugget Pals sparked a lot of memories for members of The Beat staff. The little plastic accessories can be mix-and-matched to create entirely new McNugget Pals. Your McNugget can wear a cowboy hat and carry a mailbag!
- Hamburger Changeable (McDonald’s): 1989
I definitely had a full set of these as a kid. There was a fry carton with fries in it, and a milkshake, and a McMuffin carton, all of which turned into different robots. Remember when Happy Meal toys were awesome?
- 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
A modern classic, according to some. I don’t know why.
- Patti the Platypus (Ty Beanie Baby): 1997
- 101 Dalmatians – U.S. Exclusive (Disney): 1997
(Remember the 101 Dalmatians Happy Meals? You would have to have gotten 101 Happy Meals in order to get all of the unique toys. McDonald’s offered official collector sets of those figures—you can get one on Amazon today for $180. Woof.)
- Tamagotchi (Bandai): 1998
- My Little Pony (Hasbro): 1998
- Furby (Hasbro): 1999
- Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey – U.S. Exclusive (Disney): 2002
- Hello Kitty (Sanrio): 2013
I’m legitimately shocked to see licensed properties like the Power Rangers, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Helly Kitty included among these offerings. Licensing has played a key role in the history of the Happy Meal, though; the first partnership was the Star Trek Meal, which tied in with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture during the first year of the Happy Meal’s existence.
The Happy Meal as we know it today officially debuted in the United States in 1979, but was adapted from the “Ronald Menu” created by Yolanda Cofino, co-proprietor of a McDonald’s in Guatemala, in the early ’70s.
For me, my favorite Happy Meal toys—or at least the ones I have the fondest memories of—were a set of four Berenstain Bears figures they produced. Each figure had a vinyl body and a flocked plastic head, and came with accessories they could hold or ride.
(Wow, 1986? I was three years old when these came out. No wonder they imprinted on my impressionable brain.)
The McDonald’s throwback Happy Meal toys will be available while supplies last at participating stores for less than a week, from Thursday, November 7th, through Monday the 11th.