McDonald’s Sued for Allegedly Bribing Kids With Toys

The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a class action lawsuit today against McDonald’s, accusing the mega-chain of using Happy Meal toys to lure children into its restaurants.

The CSPI suit was filed in conjunction with Monet Parham, a Sacramento mother of two, who claims that her young daughters ask to go to McDonald’s to get toys based on popular characters like Barbie, i-Carly, Shrek and Strawberry Shortcake. ”The food seems almost beside the point to the kids,” says Parham via CPSI, “because the toy monopolizes the attention of Maya and her two-year-old sister Lauryn.”

Parham goes on to state via the CSPI, “I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience. But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say ‘no’ to our young children so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

For more info on this, see Mitch Lipka’s Consumer Ally blog.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you think the lawsuit against McDonald’s is warranted or feel that it’s a parent’s responsibility to set boundaries for their children and if Parham has a problem with the chain, she should simply avoid it?

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  1. by Jeannette

    On December 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Stupid, stupid. The kids may see the commercials for the toys, but if the parent doesn’t take them to McDonalds then the kid won’t eat McDonalds. You can also buy the toy separately (I believe, I know you used to be able to.) You need to be a parent and say no. Or say, maybe once a month. I love fast food, I really do. But I also know it, mostly, is unhealthy. But there are some healthier options for kids. The parent needs to take responsibility of what their kids eat.

  2. by Carolyn

    On December 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    This is ridiculous. Grow a backbone mom and learn how to say no!

  3. by Amanda

    On December 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    all i gatta say is that the child doesnt buy the freakin happymeal…the parent does….this parent needs 2 get a life and find another way 2 make alot of money…not by suing 4 STUPID reasons…this just makes me mad and this parent needs 2 GROW UP…..

  4. by Christie K

    On December 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    This is ridiculous and this mother is an idiot… she clearly has no control over her children and takes no responsibility for that lack of control. If she can’t set boundaries about McDonald’s now… just wait to see what happens when her kids are teenagers and she can’t set boundaries. McDonald’s is not doing anything wrong here. Every patron of the chain’s is contributing to McDonalds’ bottom line at their own free will. If this woman thinks they are in the wrong, she should go someplace else.

  5. by Stephanie

    On December 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! This is worse than when that lady sued over hot coffee. This woman is trying to blame someone for her lack of responsibility! If she doesn’t want her kid to have a toy, either don’t give the child the toy or go somewhere else! The Happy Meal has been in existence forever. Please, McDonalds! Don’t change anything for this pathetic excuse for a parent. Learn to set limits on your own. Don’t expect the restaurant to do it for you. This makes me so angry.

  6. by Ami

    On December 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Another example of a parent not being a parent and taking responsibility on what they are providing for the children. The rule in my house when my children were younger was no toy until at least half the food was gone. Also use McDonalds more as a treat than a staple. This is a ridiculous lawsuit and I hope it gets thrown out of court.

  7. by Karen

    On December 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I am so tired of these silly lawsuits. I hope that it gets thrown out, but unfortunately it probably won’t. It is your responsibility to be a parent to your children and say NO to them. You are the parent. The kid didn’t drive there or buy the happy meal. Maybe next she should sue the TV station for broadcasting the commercial that the kid saw that made them want the toy!

  8. by rachel

    On December 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I feel the same way that many other do on this topic. I feel that parents should be just that.. The parent! If your child wants to go to McDonald’s and the parents doesn’t want to than it is the parents job to say No. The child does not rule the house. Many parents look to pin the blame on someone or something else to make them feel better about the choices they have made. I am not saying that I support fast food chains but may of the chains are making changes to better the health of their consumers. McDonald’s had begun to offer all white meat chicken as well as apples and milk in place of fries and sugary sodas. Sure its quick and cheap but if we as american’s focused more on the our health than saving a few dollars we would be a much healthier nation. If a parent is dead set against “fast food” in most cases subway can be found just around the corner. Or better yet be a parent and come prepared. Pack snacks or little travel meal if you know you are going to be out for a while.
    As far as the toy is concerned..No matter where you go someone is offering some form of toy or incentive to get your childs attention and it is the parents job to make the right choice and decide if its really worth it. Don’t sue a company for your poor parenting choices.

  9. by Kathleen

    On December 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Ditto, Ditto & Ditto….I agree with all of the other sane people that have left comments regarding this lawsuit against McDonalds. I saw this woman being interviewed on one of the morning shows today and she’s not the brightest bulb on the tree!!! She needs to wake up and realize she is the parent and makes the decisions – don’t blame McDonalds for your lack of responsibility as a parent!

  10. by Melissa Fish

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Ya know what. DON’T BUY YOUR KID A HAPPY MEAL. keep you and your kids at home and feed them and stop blaming others for your lack of parenting skills.

  11. by Lu

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:04 am

    The lady is just looking for a quick buck – probably to go to Wendy’s and buy a frosty.
    Stop blaming other people for YOUR choices!! (directed at the ‘lady’) Arrrrgh!

  12. by Michelle

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I completely agree with all of you!! Instead of taking her kid to McDonald’s so he can see the toys that “lure” him in why doesn’t she make him a meal at home! Obviously she’s looking for a way to get cash fast. I don’t think this is going to work though! She’s crazy!

  13. by Toni Thomason

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:08 am

    The parents are responsible for what their children eat and what they do. Growing up Happy Meals were considered a treat, once a month, if we were good and did our chores that month. But, we had to use our won allowance to pay for them. We didn’t want to spend our hard earned money on happy meals. So, we did not get them that often. Now, with my own children, we do happy meals every now and then. But, they do NOT watch TV enough or know what the toys are in the meals. When we buy, and not often, happy meals, they do not get the toys right away. In fact, that is not even the reason they want the happy meals. They want to eat the cheeseburger.

    I think its up to the parent to decided and to blame someone else is ridiculous. Take some responsibility for yourself and don’t blame society.

  14. by Amy Nicole

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I’m sorry, but that last time I checked “kids” weren’t borrowing the car from Mom and Dad, driving themselves there and ordering/paying! Someone needs to slap this woman and all the others who have anything to say. You are the one buying for the child, so if they pick a Happy Meal and you allow it, then it’s on your head. Also, it’s not like tha average person is going there daily and eating, besides if they were…choose apples instead of fries or juice/milk instead of coke and as for the toy, just donate it if you don’t want your child to have… Grrrrrr…leave Micky D’s alone bc the rest of us don’t have a problem with the childhood tradition of a Happy Meal, toy or no toy!

  15. by Nancy

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I don’t think is valid. I’m not a big fan of McDonalds but they are not the only ones that give the toys away. They may have better advertising so what are they going to sue them for that. Many kids go through this phase but it’s up to he parents to control what they eat. I have two daughters and I can honestly say they don’t care too much for mcdonalds. They were giving her favorite toy away and she still said no when I asked her if she wanted a happy meal. This is just going to affect the kids that do enjoy the toy every now and then.

  16. by Kate

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Is she going to sue Toys r Us next?

  17. by Chad Brower

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

    so is she going to sue walmart and toys r us next for advertising their toys as well. If this lawsuit holds up what is next. I still have mcdonalds toys from when I was a kid if she is that upset with it then why doesnt she just shut the t.v. off that way her kids don’t see what they have and stay away from it, but let the rest of our children enjoy them

  18. by Julie

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I believe it’s true that McDonald’s marketing works on kids. There is many a time that my son wanted to have McD’s just because of the toy, but you know what, I said no. He wasn’t happy with it, but hey, that’s what being a mean mom is all about. It’s not McD’s fault that you don’t say no to your kids. What’s next, are you going to sue Toys’R'Us because they sell toys that your kid wanted so now you’re filing for bankruptcy. I really hope they don’t win. If they do, it’s just another sad comment on society that everything is always someone else’s fault.

  19. by loucretia

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

    as a mom this is silly you are the mom and when you say no it should be no. you cannot blame McDonald’s for lack of parenting and the toys aren’t the bad stuff it is the food and now the have choices like the apple slices and milk. they are also not the only fast food franchise that gives away toys with kids meals.

  20. by Monica

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I think this lawsuit is totally stupid. As a parent there are many things you have to say no about. This shouldnt be any harder to say no about a happy meal. McDonalds should not be sued because a parent feels bad,I meen seriously grow a backbone. I have 4 kids and they get Mcdonalds once in a while but they have the choice to get the happy meal when they get the choice. If you dont want your kids to eat Mcdonalds happy meals than dont buy it!!

  21. by Amy Holgersen

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:21 am

    SAY NO! Or if you can not do that, why I have no clue, you can JUST buy the toy. Its like $1.99. I have done it, and AMAZINGLY I avoided ordering french fries and those so called “chicken” nuggets.

  22. by Lisa G

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Utterly ridiculous!!! My comment mimics all the previous before mine. Parent’s don’t HAVE to bring the child to McDonald’s they make the conscious and educated choice and ultimately make the decison. If you do not want to bring your children to McDonalds then simply say no and move on. And yes…It IS that simple.

  23. by Dana

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

    The fact of the matter is that many corporations hire psychologists to help them determine the best way to undermine the authority of the parent with the child. I’d be shocked if McD’s wasn’t one of them. No matter how many boundaries a parent sets with their children, the constant nagging/whining/crying eventually wears down even the most consistent of parents. Then the corporation wins. We live in a consumer driven society and that needs to change. The best thing to do is get rid of the television and limit the types of advertising that our children get to see. Unfortunately, asking a parent to get rid of the TV is like asking them to cut off their right arm. Maybe the only way to take back some of the control is to hit the corporations, like McD’s, where it really hurts them…in their pocket through law suits such as these.

  24. by Becky Bossert

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I think this is RIDICULOUS!! If you can’t tell your kid NO then you have issues! I saw this on GMA and couldn’t help but laugh. When asked why she just doesn’t say no she replied with I can’t because it’s always on tv. Well so are toys and food, etc…You’re the parent and the buck stops with you!! My kids enjoy McDonalds as an occasional treat and I would be upset if they changed it-they offer other menu options such as apples and milk that sometimes my kids take advantage of and other times they want fries. You made the decision to have children and you can tell them NO! Don’t ruin it for others!!

  25. by crystal

    On December 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    oh please Mcdonalds doesn’t lure kids in with a crapy little toy the kids don’t walk in there them selves and order a happy meal the parents go buy it for them because aparently now a days no one can tell there kids NO for crying out loud if you dont want your kid to eat there then be a grown up and tell your kids no

  26. by Naomi

    On December 16, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Most fast food chains put toys in their kids’ meals. It’s up to the parents to say “NO” when their kids beg for fast food or kids’ meals. From a purely financial standpoint, it’s WAY cheaper to either split an adult meal with your kid or just get a couple things for your kid off the regular menu. It’s not the restaurant’s fault–it’s time for parents to start refusing to buy the meals for their kids. That will speak louder than this ridiculous lawsuit.

  27. by Belinda

    On December 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

    DITTO! This mom is a money hungry person. Next she will probably sue cereal companies because they put a prize in their box. What about cracker jackets – watch out! :-) Like everyone said, this lady needs to get a backbone and say NO to her child. No one forced her to buy all those meals for her child.

  28. by Jamie Freedman

    On December 16, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Um…NO…It is the parent’s fault that her child is having Mc Donalds in the first place…Utterly ridiculous!!!!

  29. by jill

    On December 16, 2010 at 10:21 am

    yes i think she’s right because my son begs for a happy meal says he’s hungry then barely eats anything. Then I find out he just wanted the toy. He does it all the time!!! But it’s nothing to sue over she’s just trying to get paid in these bad times.

  30. by AB

    On December 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

    The children aren’t allowed by law to drive, and aren’t expected to be roaming the streets alone, so how are they getting to McDonald’s? I know how my kids get fast food – with my decision and my money. And if you really can’t say no to your child – which is most concerning – you can always get those same toys on ebay or ask to buy the toy at the restaurant without getting the meal. She needs counseling, not a court settlement. But there is unfortunately a precedent of those without personal responsibility or common sense being awarded.

  31. by beth

    On December 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Wow. I have a three-year-old who likes McDonald’s toys just as much as any kid, but prefers eating the lunch I pack for her over fast food because I have chosen to set a good example for her and to set boundaries. We do eat fast food once or twice a month, but she prefers Chic-fil-A for the books that come in the kids meals and the fruit salad she gets with her chicken. My point, as a parent your job is to teach your kids how to make good choices. If she is so against McDonalds, she doesn’t need to take her kids there. A two-year-old is certainly too young to be making decisions about what she gets to eat anyway, unless she is choosing between two options her mom is presenting. Our country is way too sue-happy and anti-responsibility!

  32. by Jackie

    On December 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

    How can you ‘lure’ children to buy your product? Do they have money? Do they drive a car to get there? Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Aren’t parents responsible for what their young children eat? Do you have to say yes to be their friend…or do you say no and be the parent?

  33. by liz

    On December 16, 2010 at 11:23 am

    “No matter how many boundaries a parent sets with their children, the constant nagging/whining/crying eventually wears down even the most consistent of parents. Then the corporation wins.”- This is the problem. Parents need to stay consistent- even when it is difficult. Believe me, my daughter wears us down daily. WE DON”T GIVE IN. Otherwise, we are failing her.

    “The best thing to do is get rid of the television and limit the types of advertising that our children get to see. Unfortunately, asking a parent to get rid of the TV is like asking them to cut off their right arm.” – Well, that is pretty pathetic. My daughter gets to watch two shows a day- if she chooses to do so. Most of the time, she forgets about it and we don’t turn it on at all. Offer your kids other activities to keep them occupied. Mine colors, plays with cars or dolls, builds towers, plays with her baby brother, etc. while I get work done. She also helps me with chores around the house. Engage your children with positive things, and they won’t care about missing out on TV or crappy fast-food toys. You’ll also most likely have fewer behavior problems.

    What happened to parental responsibility?!

  34. by Mari O

    On December 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

    That is so stupid. Seriously? Is she that desperate for money that she has come down to this? Of course they lure kids with Happy Meals that’s how they make their money. Just like Toys R Us has commercials with songs and toys, to get kids to ask their parents. I’m embarrassed really for this lady.
    Like the lady who sued over the coffee. If only I could slap her lol. It’s just ridiculous, I can bet you that is that coffee had been anything but hot she would have gone in thrown the cup at the employees and complained about her coffee being cold.

  35. by Netters2570

    On December 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    She’s a greedy woman who is blaming her own parenting failures on others. It’s time for her to realize that she needs to be a responsible parent and either teach her children that they’re not getting toys at the restraunt or not take them to the restraunt…and go through the drive through… It’s not hard at all.
    We always give our son toys at home (usually as a good behavior reward), that way he doesn’t associate the toy with the restaurant or store. We don’t let him play with toys in the cart and then take them away later, either. If he wants to look at something that’s fine, we look at it and then put it back on the shelf, waving bye-bye and saying, “We’ll see you next time we visit.” It has made it so that we don’t have fights at the stores or in the restaurants over toys.

  36. by jolene

    On December 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I think her Idea of sueing is McDonalds is complete ignorance on her part. That isn’t even a valid point. Today, we live in a society were everyone is so eager to sue anyone for any reason. Plain ignorance that is all it is. I don’t think any fast food restuarant should have to change their menus completely. It is up to the parents to take them there knowing what is on their menus. She is just money hungry!!!

  37. by ann Williams

    On December 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I guess this means I can sue target because their ad every week is so tempting… what is wrong with people these days?!?!?

  38. by Jenny

    On December 18, 2010 at 2:17 am

    WOW. Now that’s parenting at its finest. How about improving your parenting skills… A LOT. I don’t even know what to say, except this is ridiculous. Nice waste of time and money for everyone. Go mom! (Man she is pathetic. Can’t wait to see what her lack of parenting does to her children as they grow… I already feel bad for them.)

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    I think most of the people are missing the point.

    Sure, parents need to learn to say no, but that doesn’t make it the issue. The issue is that they shouldn’t have to have their kids brainwashed into glorifying a $0.3 cent made toy in a $.99 happy meal and then begging their parents for it to end in an outcome where the child hates the parents for that choice when the parent shouldn’t be faced with the decision in the first place. I think McDonalds is evil for capitalizing on children AND parent mentality. It really comes down to social psychology and Mcdonalds has mastered it in the marketing department.

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