The House of Mouse is returning to the Golden Arches after a decade-plus breakup that stemmed from childhood obesity rates. Children from the ’90s and early aughts will remember that Happy Meals and Disney toys from the company’s latest animated flicks once went hand-in-hand. But then in 2006, Disney decided to sever its relationship with McDonald’s, mainly due to fast food’s link with childhood obesity.
Though Disney had declined to discuss the breakup at the time, Steve Jobs, who was Pixar’s chief then, said, “There are also some concerns, as our society becomes more conscious of some of the implications of fast food.”
Not coincidentally, 2006 was also the year Disney first developed nutrition guidelines for its branded food products and food items sold at its resorts; the goal was to promote the consumption of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
So what’s changed now? The menu at McDonald’s. Earlier this month the fast food chain announced it was revamping its Happy Meal menu to offer healthier selections, including those that are lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat, and sugar.
Though previous staples like cheeseburgers and chocolate milk will be available for purchase, they will not appear on the Happy Meal menu, which means there is less likelihood they will be bought. All told, this seems to explain why Disney is back in business with the global fast food franchise.
In a statement released earlier this week, Tiffany Rende, senior vice president of corporate alliances at Disney, said, “McDonald’s commitment to balanced Happy Meals allows our two companies to collaborate on new ways to bring the magic of Disney to McDonald’s consumers.”
This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has added healthier fare to its menu. Previously, the company reduced the portion size of fries and restricted soda from its Happy Meals, and recently, it added a McVegan burger in some countries in Europe.
McDonald’s plans to keep its menus in line with Disney’s nutrition guidelines — just in time for the summer release of Incredibles 2… and new toy figurines.
A McDream come true.