Clown World: The ‘Adult Happy Meal’ is Finally Here

It might be low-hanging fruit, but the new adult Happy Meal from McDonald’s demands coverage on this blog. If only because it’s the quintessential intersection of my Lost Generations model and the Pop Cult.


McDonald’s is serving up nostalgia with new “boxed meals” for adults that look like Happy Meals and even include toys.


The second someone mentions “nostalgia” in relation to a product, you know it’s marketed at Generation Y.



Gen Xers are too bitter about their loss to get off on nostalgia. Millennials’ zeitgeist revolves around destroying the past.


The only people I’ve seen getting excited about adult Happy Meals are Gen Y Pop Cultists and a few Zoomers engaged in Hamburger Nationalism.


The limited-edition combo meals launching today are part of the fast-food giant’s collaboration with popular streetwear fashion label Cactus Plant Flea Market and will be available while supplies last.


Because nothing gives me a hankering for soy-infused starch boiled in submarine lube like “cactus” and “flea market”.


Seriously, those words are to me what Pavlov’s bell was to his dogs.


McDonald’s said it is reimagining the “feeling of pure joy when you ordered a Happy Meal as a kid” with the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box for adults to reignite “a new generation’s love for our food and the brand.”


More brazen pandering to Gen Y. They try for plausible deniability in the self-contradictory closing statement, but everybody knows they’re not targeting a “new generation” with this ploy.


Even people who’ve forgotten about Gen Y picture the typical adult Happy Meal consoomer as a white 36-year-old with 50 extra pounds and 50% of his hair gone wearing a Marvel tee and cargo shorts.


Here’s how we got to this point: McDonald’s became the top capitalist enterprise of all time thanks to kid-based marketing. Throughout the 80s, they aired ads starring clowns and muppets between Saturday morning cartoons. Sugar and salt-addicted Gen Y kids then bugged their Boomer parents to take them to McD’s for Happy Meals. Which the Boomers did in their ongoing attempt to buy their second kids’ love with cheap pieces of plastic. While they were there, Dad got a Big Mac, and Mom got a salad. The Happy Meals were loss leaders more than made up for by the adults’ add-ons.


1987 McDonald's Fry Kids Commercial


Business was great, but then the post-Boomer generations stopped having kids. By the early aughts, McDonald’s was in trouble. They’ve been trying gimmicks like the Dollar Menu, “health food”, and hipster coffee ever since, but nothing’s worked.


So now they’re going back to the well and marketing to Gen Y again.


Which is hilarious since corporate marketing was responsible for memory holing Gen Y in the first place.


Of course, no attempt to cash in on Gen Y nostalgia is complete without desecrating Ys’ childhood memories somehow.


Scroll back up and look at the adult Happy Meal toys. They’re not quite the colorful characters you remember from those long-lost Saturday mornings. They’re your beloved characters reimagined as weird four-eyed mutants. Plus a “show me where he touched you” doll, also with four hideous bug eyes.


Because they want to take your money, but they also hate you.




Just don’t


Originally published here

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Brian Niemeier

Brian Niemeier is the #1 best selling author of Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You. His sci fi horror books have racked up Dragon Award nominations and won. Let him edit your book to perfection. Read more of his work at or pick up his books via Amazon.