8 Happy Meal Toys That Should’ve Stayed in the Box

McDonald's toys are just an approximation of reality, much like their food.
8 Happy Meal Toys That Should’ve Stayed in the Box

The McDonald's Happy Meal toy is an American staple. A tradition teaches kids an invaluable lesson at an extremely young age. And that lesson is, of course, that you can set your expectations and standards far lower than you could possibly imagine. The toy inside the Happy Meal was never good. Much like the "food" you had to eat to get to it, it was always an approximation of the real thing. 

But even with the standards for these toys in the absolute cellar, even though you could be certain that the neon hunk of plastic waiting for you at the bottom of the box would surely be in the garbage hours later, there have been some Happy Meal toys that go below and beyond their traditional trash call of duty ...

Michael Jordan Fitness Challenge

Hey, kid, after you polish off that burger, why don't you bust out a plastic stopwatch and see how long it's going to take before you hurl that thing back out?

The Michael Jordan Fitness Challenge was full of crappy sports-related items that honestly probably made any kid who used them a worse athlete and torpedoed any future playing career on the spot. With everything from a garbage frisbee (you know, because MJ was known for this love of … frisbee) to a jump rope that was wildly short and impossible to use even for the smallest kid, it's safe to say that when this promotion rolled around, the future got a little fatter going forward.


McDonald's Step-It


The awful fitness-related toys kept coming in the modern age, too. But this time, with burns! It wasn't enough to not-so-subtly suggest that you get your fat little kid self into better shape, but that humiliation would come with blisters and burns, too. This one was recalled when wearers reported these symptoms, and frankly, it makes sense. 

I like to picture Ronald himself in some big tech think tank, conceiving some horrific Black Mirror technology for the future, and while a wearable step tracker that burns kids was just the start, keep an eye out for the McMicro Chip brain implant that turns the smell of a household gas leak into the smell of a fresh batch of fries.

Ronald McDonald Sunglasses

Ronald McDonald Sunglasses


I think these horrific chunks of plastic should become the new mandatory shades of aggressive cops across the country. Forget their usual, blocky, equally-horrific Oakleys that they put on and instantly turn into Low-T Punisher cosplayers. This could bring some needed humility back to the force. Having pervy Ronald peering out at everything you see might tone the ego back a pinch and just lighten up a routine traffic stop or even bring a few yucks to a hostage situation.

The point is, someone should be arrested by a man wearing these for ever giving these out to kids.

Gardening Tools

McDonald's Gardening Tools


Giving kids gardening tools with their fast food dinner is so goddamn cruel that you almost have to respect it. You're basically giving them chore equipment, but even worse versions of it. Done with those nuggets? Great, dig around in the box, and I think you'll find a neon green toilet brush that's going to snap at first use and cause you to fall into the toilet, accidentally flush it with your leg, and begin your journey in the best '90s movie ever where you befriend a giant turd elaborately designed by Jim Henson, voiced by Howie Mandel, and you learn that sometimes … number two just wants to be number one.

… And now I've convinced myself that maybe these were actually a brilliant goddamn idea and the best toy line ever produced.

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Sky Dancers

Look at this toy:

Seems pretty innocent, right? Your standard plastic piece of trash toy? Hell no. That's a military-grade weapon you're looking at. Something that I'm sure we lined up and fired at countless caves in Afghanistan during our quest to kill Bin Laden. That's a Sky Dancer, and that thing would absolutely rip through the air and hone in on children's eyeballs with lethal precision. 

Like many of these toys, these had to be recalled because kids were getting absolutely messed up by them. Can you imagine being one of those parents? You had the longest day at work, so you said forget it, not cooking tonight. Let's get McDonald's and take it easy. Finally, get home, turn on the TV, and kick back. A few minutes later, you hear a scream, both of your daughters have been turned into Snake Plissken, and the family cat has a plastic ballerina impaled through its skull. That's the kind of thing that will turn you into a Wendy's family.

Idol iPod

Idol IPod


Some Happy Meal toys are harmlessly bad. And then some escape from a CIA torture lab and find their way into a child's French fry container. This is the latter. 

The Idol iPod was a little mini mp3 player that did one thing and one thing only: play the American Idol theme song on a goddamn loop. That's it. Purpose-built to drive kids insane, I truly think they'd have been better off with a recording of a Paula Abdul therapy session than this madness. It's equally awful to think about just the absurd amount of plastic produced and discarded on something that is more than worthless; it's actively harmful.

I truly do hope that one day, in the landfill where millions of these live, one grows to Kaiju size and roams and stomps and crushes our world while the American Idol song plays on a low-fi loop so loud, it can be heard throughout the galaxy. This is the way we deserve to go out.

Camp McDonaldland

Camp McDonaldland

Alex Vining

An alternative name for these toys would have been: how to get kids seriously hurt in the woods.

The idea of sending kids out into the wilderness with useless plastic McDonald's toys as the backbone of their survival just goes along with so many other toys in this list that suggest they actively have the kid's worst interest in mind sometimes. From a leaky, garbage canteen that holds minimal water to a plastic frying pan, you're better off climbing Everest with a CamelBak full of Oreo McFlurry than counting on this stuff out in the woods. We don't need Smokey Bear warning us about forest fires; we need him going door-to-door like the Terminator to eliminate any parents who'd let their children use this stuff with a big old tonk to their head with his shovel.

Shark Tale Jellyfish

This is … not good. This is not good, McDonald's.

I don't personally believe that a toy in your children's meal box should be a purple, stoned dildo man. You can call me crazy here. You can say that I'm overreacting. That it's not as bad as it looks. But McDonald's, I really, REALLY do not believe that the toy at the bottom of your meal box for children should be a purple dildo man that is outrageously high. I'm sorry if this is a controversial opinion, but I'll come out and say it: there should not be a faded purple dildo man given out to children. That's all.

Top image: pvcs/Ebay

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