I Compared McDonald’s New 'Adult Happy Meal' To The Kids One & The Winner Surprised Me
This is how the limited edition holds up to the original!
This Review article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
This week McDonald's released two limited edition meal boxes in collaboration with the streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market.
The new meal boxes are essentially Happy Meals for adults and were created with the intention of inspiring nostalgia.
But after reviewing both of the new menu items, I came to the conclusion that the toys were not worth the $3 upcharge and they left me feeling more cynical than wistful.
Still determined to chase the childlike joy that came with unboxing a Happy Meal, I decided to see how the Cactus Plant Flea Market box compared to the traditional one marketed toward kids.
This is how the limited edition holds up to the original.
The Box — Mcdonald’s Adult Happy Meal Vs. Kids' Happy Meal
The limited edition boxes. Right: The Happy Meal box and special toy.
The artsy Cactus Plant Flea Market boxes feature eccentric designs and a modern twist on the iconic McDonald's characters. They're also almost double the size of the children's box to accommodate larger portion sizes.
The traditional kids' Happy Meal box is one most of us are familiar with: bright red with the signature golden arches serving as a handle. The sides, entrée, toy, and milk all fit snugly in the package.
While I can appreciate the art on the new boxes, the classic, compact Happy Meal box feels cute and classic.
The Food — Mcdonald’s Adult Happy Meal Vs. Kids' Happy Meal
Chicken nuggets and fries from the happy meal boxes.
The product served in both meals were identical. There are no variations between fries or nuggets, the children's meal just has smaller portion sizes.
The kids' Happy Meal comes with two sides, a tiny portion of fries, as well as a package of apple slices. The drink that comes with it is 1% milk, while for the adult meal, you can select a fountain drink of your choice.
The food tasted exactly the same. The nuggets were bland and greasy with a chewy texture that feels distinctly unnatural. The fries were salty, crispy and addictive. It's the classic McDonald's provisions we all know.
The Toy — Mcdonald’s Adult Happy Meal Vs. Kids' Happy Meal
The packaged toys from McDonald's.
The toy is marketed as the star of the show in the adult Happy Meals. The only difference between the limited edition meal and the regular adult combo is the price, the box and the toy.
I got the Hamburgular toy, but instead of the traditional portrayal of the caricature, this version has four eyes and looks like it's been molded out of clay rather than the hard plastic material. It doesn't have any function outside of being a figurine.
Admittedly, I was much more excited to open up the kids' Happy Meal, which has a promotional Lightning McQueen toy from Disney's Cars franchise. I grew up watching the Cars movies, so the children's meal toy held more sentimental value.
Nutritional Value — Mcdonald’s Adult Happy Meal Vs. Kids' Happy Meal
The standard size Cactus Plant Flea Market 10-piece chicken McNugget meal contains 740-980 calories depending on drink choice.
The children's 4-piece chicken McNugget Happy Meal has 430-530 calories.
From a nutritional standpoint, the smaller portion meal is more health-conscious. Substituting apple slices in lieu of a larger portion of fries cuts down on the sodium, fat and carb content.
That being said, no one goes to McDonald's because they're looking for a healthy meal.
The Price — Mcdonald’s Adult Happy Meal Vs. Kids' Happy Meal
My Georgia location sells the Cactus Plant Flea Market meals for $11.89, a $3 upcharge from the traditional adult combo meal.
The kids' Happy Meal is nearly half the price, at $5.59, but is also a much smaller portion size. From a value standpoint, both prices are comparable to the amount of food you're getting.
However, for the adult boxes, I don't feel like the extra $3 is worth it, considering the only difference from the regular combo is the special box and cheap plastic toy.
Overall Winner — Mcdonald’s Adult Happy Meal Vs. Kids' Happy Meal
While the limited edition 'Happy Meal for adults' was intended to inspire nostalgia, I think the anticipated sense of childlike wonder was lost on me.
The boxes felt more edgy than sentimental and since I wasn't super attached to the characters, I didn't really see the overall point.
Ironically, the regular Happy Meal was a much better experience. The tiny red box and ritual of unpacking it felt familiar. The toy inside was a character I grew up watching and left me feeling a bit soft around the edges.
I'm not a huge fan of chicken McNuggets, so for me, the best part of the experience was reminiscing about opening the real deal.
If you're chasing that giddy feeling you once had unboxing the red carton and unwrapping a figure of a familiar cartoon character, the standard Happy Meal geared towards children is the way to go. Besides, you can order it at any age.
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