I was recently invited to be a McCafe Mom, which means I am a blog ambassador for McDonald’s. I was thrilled and immediately responded yes. I joined the program because we genuinely like McDonald’s and eat there occasionally, plus the McCafe Moms program gives us opportunities for fun events that my kids like. We had a blast at Saturday’s event and my son with special needs did several things I’ve never seen him do before–like he laughed at appropriate places during the Ronald McDonald Show, and he was included in play when the kids were running wild. We had a great day.
Later that day, since we were excited about our new opportunity and in particular working with Ronald McDonald House Charities, several of us posted comments on Facebook. Within minutes, in several spots, there it was. Comments like “Oh we don’t eat at McDonald’s” and “Oh I’d love to help but I don’t want to if it involves McDonald’s” even with some moms saying McDonald’s is a name they neither trust or respect and one mom chiming in that basically we are poisoning our kids.
Shrug and sigh.
It always strikes me as odd when that comes up. Because it seems that whenever “McDonald’s” comes up in conversation, there is no shortage of Moms who are quick to tell you they don’t go there. Lots of things come up in my Facebook feed–some businesses I agree with, some I don’t. Yet I don’t feel compelled to tell everyone all the businesses that I don’t shop at. There are many things other parents do with or feed their kids that I don’t do, but I don’t post it. Especially when those folks have just posted that it’s a brand they are working with and are excited about it.
Even yesterday, a male friend who wasn’t in on any of this, he posted “Well, we’re eating breakfast at McDonald’s, which is bad enough…….” What is bad enough? An egg, an English Muffin–hold the cheese but add the Canadian bacon, plus an OJ and a fruit/yogurt parfait…..that’s nutritionally better than what most parents serve at home.
Somewhere along the line…in between my teens and becoming a parent, eating at McDonald’s became a sign of bad parenting. The “yeah it’s easy and fast and cheap but it’s fake and fatty and processed and loaded with sodium and OMG HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE VIDEO WITH THE PINK SLIME and it’s the reason for all things wrong with kids today and it causes obesity and and and……….” Shrug and sigh, again.
Last year Heather at Family Friendly Frugality mentioned that she does not give her kids juice boxes because she doesn’t want them to have that much sugar. She was met with “but you have posted pictures of your kids at MCDONALD’S!” as if that is the most heinous of all crimes against childhood nutrition. What is it about McDonald’s in particular that provokes this in parents?
I’m not the first Mom or blogger to notice this. LeeAnn over at The Life of Rylie said last year:
I am SO SICK of the “perfect” parents out there who give me the side-eye because I let my children eat fast food. My husband and I both work full time, and we just need a break some nights. Do we eat fast food every day? No way! Do we eat it once a week? You bet! I do try to teach my kids about healthy eating, and for the most part, we try to feed them as healthy as possible, within the constraints of their picky eating habits. We also let them have “treats” occasionally, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Emily, in her post My Kids eat McDonald’s and I am a good mother shared similar sentiments:
Eating healthy is about balance. And finding that balance can be really hard. Eating at a place like McDonald’s teaches my son it is okay to indulge every once in a while, AND it teaches him to make healthy choices from a menu that has all kinds of foods on it.
For the record, I’m not picking on any of my friends who made such comments, they were just the most recent comments I’ve heard on this but certainly not the first. There just aren’t many family businesses out there that are greeted with the same sentiments (usually perceived as disdain) as they do McDonald’s. And to me and other parents, it reeks of judgy-ness. Sorry if you don’t intend it that way, but it does. Given the amount of discussion from both sides that I can find all over the internet about this, I don’t think it’s me being overly sensitive.
I grew up in the 1970s and going to McDonald’s was a real treat. Happy Meals actually weren’t introduced until 1979, so I was a bit too old to enjoy them. But I remember Chicken McNuggets being introduced and I still enjoy them today. Guess what? No pink slime, that’s an urban legend and that chicken processing hasn’t been used by McDonald’s in over 10 years.
Lots of folks would like to blame America’s obesity problem, particularly childhood obesity, on Happy Meals. Last time I checked, the average 6 year old does not have $4 nor the transportation to get to his local McDonald’s and buy one. There have been cries from parenting groups to stop putting toys in them, to “lure” the children into bad nutrition. Yet, there is no call to discontinue the toys in cereal boxes. Know when the first prize (a children’s book) was given with a box of cereal? 1909. And it became industry wide practice in the 1940s. Yet childhood obesity is a relatively new phenomenon, so is it really the toys?
Look, I have two small kids, so I know–SAYING NO TO YOUR KIDS SUCKS. It does. But it’s your job as a parent. So we have to do things in moderation. We have to work at helping our kids make good choices. And you know what, McDonald’s is trying to make that easier for moms.That’s what I like about McDonald’s–is that a bunch of moms said they wanted different choices, and they got them. When is the last time you heard of another restaurant doing that?
Here are some things you may not know.
- Apple slices are now included in every Happy Meal, making McDonald’s the largest nationwide purchaser of apples in the country.
- McDonald’s is now the first restaurant to have the MSC certification, which means it’s Filet O’Fish and Fish McBites only come from sustainable fishing sources.
- For over 38 years, the Ronald McDonald House charities have supported children in need and their families. They provide housing, food and other necessities so that children do not have to face medical treatment without a parent at their side. Proceeds from McDonald’s endeavors, from things like Shamrock Shakes, goes to support this mission.
- When you get an Egg McMuffin, the eggs are there on the premises, whole, and are cracked to make your Egg McMuffin. It’s not an “egg product” in a carton.
- When season offerings such as the blueberry oatmeal are sold, they locally source the ingredients.
- 80% of the national menu choices at McDonald’s are under 400 calories.
I try to be a conscientious consumer–I want to know where my money is going beyond the purchase at the merchant. For me, I’d much rather have my money going to Ronald McDonald House Charities, instead of some bigoted racist hate groups like has happened with other fast food chains. RMHC supports our kids, our families...the ones with special needs. When our kids need extended medical care and hospital stays, RMHC is there to help. This is why it’s a good fit for my blog; why I wanted to be an Ambassador. And why I’m proud to represent them.
I love McDonald’s. We love the play area at the one in Kennett Square. It’s affordable, it’s fast, it’s easy. I don’t have to dress up, nor do I have to expect my kids to sit still for a long period of time after we’ve all had a long day. There is a variety of menu choices so we can all find something, including my son with special needs. They love the Happy Meal toys, even if they lose them within days.
Even though it was 30 or 40 years ago, I still remember that feeling I’d get, when my Mom or Nan would look at our kitchen at dinnertime and say, “Let’s go to McDonald’s.”
I want my boys to share that same feeling.
As I stated above, I am a McCafe Mom and get compensated for blogging about McDonald’s. They did not ask me to say this, in fact, they may be cringing at some points when they read it. I do not sell my integrity for a few coupons for free Fish McBites and some fish stickers~all opinions are my own.