However you feel about McDonald's and fast food in general, it's your decision as to whether or not you feed Happy Meals to your kids.
Or at least McDonald's thinks so.
Responding to a lawsuit that accuses the company of false advertising and unfair competition for its placement of toys in Happy Meals, McDonald's requested that a judge dismiss the lawsuit because parents can just say "no."
Last year, Monet Parham filed the Happy Meal lawsuit alleging that McDonald's toys violate California consumer protection laws because targeting young children is exploitative and deceptive.
In its motion for dismissal, Reuters reports that McDonald's points to Parham's complaint wherein she admits that she frequently tells her children "no."
The company goes on to note that this makes the Happy Meal lawsuit baseless--if she can deny her children, she's clearly not being misled or relying on McDonald's for information.
The fact is that even if lawmakers and parents are perturbed by McDonald's advertising and toys, the company is free to advertise to children as long as it is not deceptive in doing so. A toy unto itself is probably not deceptive--especially when parental consent is necessary.
And as much as it may be painful to accept, McDonald's is correct in what Reuters reports is its assessment of the Happy Meal suit should it come to fruition:
Anytime a company advertises a product to a child, and the parent says "no" despite not wanting to purchase it, the advertisement would constitute an unfair trade practice.