Although kid's meals at fast food places ostensibly exist to provide children with an appropriate volume of food for their size, let's face it: We were all only in it for one thing, and that thing was the toy that came included with the meal. And if you're of a certain age, odds are you remember pretty much the same things I do — namely, these 14 Happy Meal toys you definitely had when you were a kid.
To be honest, the fact that I did actually own a number of the toys on this list is something of a mystery to me. As a family, we didn't really eat at fast food joints all that much, and when we did, it was usually Burger King. The nearest McDonald's was several towns away; we only had to go one town over for Burger King, though, so we usually opted for Whoppers over Big Macs. As such, I have absolutely no idea how I ended up with so many of these toys in my possession. None whatsoever. It's weird. Really weird.
But hey, weirdness aside, it's still a good Throwback Thursday topic, and guess what? You can even get them all on eBay, links included. So come along with me as we explore some of the Happy Meal toys of yore. Youth is so fleeting, is it not?
2. Tiny Toons Flip Cars
Nothing beats a two-for-one toy, right? Tiny Toons debuted in 1990, with this Happy Meal promo arriving shortly thereafter in 1991. I definitely had the Babs Bunny/Plucky Duck and the Buster Bunny/Elmyra ones; I have vague memories of using them as bath toys. Underwater tub races are intense, y'all.
3. Teenie Beanies
Technically Teenie Beanies weren't a Happy Meal toy — you had to purchase them separately for about $2 a pop — but good gravy, were they popular. They actually inspired physical fights in some places. For reals. I am not making that up. Fights… for a Happy Meal toy. Somewhat remarkably, there have been seven different series of Teenie Beanies ranging between the years 1996 and 2014.
4. The Little Mermaid Toys
Although The Little Mermaid is frequently thought of as a '90s Disney movie, it was actually released in 1989 — and the fact that I can remember going to see it in theaters makes me feel really, really old. The Ursula Happy Meal toy had a gigantic suction cup on her back. Once you stuck her on the wall of the bathtub, she was next to impossible to pry off again. Sorry about that one, Mom.
5. McNugget Buddies
It's kind of funny to think that the McDonaldland characters were coveted items in their own right, isn't it? The McNugget Buddies made their first appearance as members of the Happy Meal Gang in 1984; they showed up in Happy Meals fairly frequently, each time with a different costume change. The ones I recall the most vividly were the Halloween ones from 1993, probably because the television commercials for them were so memorable.
6. McDonaldland Lunch Box
Perhaps not the showiest of toys, but eminently practical. I definitely kept my colored pencils and crayons in one of these.
Barbie has made so many appearances in Happy Meals I've lost track of most of them. The ones I remember look like the ones seen here, which I believe are from the very early '90s — but Barbie has always evolved with the times, so your memories may differ.
8. Hot Wheels
I always remember theBarbie and Hot Wheels toys being offered at the same time, presumably because both items are owned by Mattel. Like Barbie, Hot Wheels have shown up in Happy Meals time and time again; something tells me they'll never go out of style.
9. Camp McDonaldland Items
Even if you weren't into camping, these Happy Meal items from 1989/1990 were pretty dang cool. I still kind of dig collapsable cups, even though I am far, far outside the appropriate Happy Meal demographic now.
10. Power Rangers Toys
I wasn't really into Power Rangers as a kid—I was more of a Ninja Turtles girl—but according to Fusion, these Happy Meal offerings from 1995 were notable for not having one bad option among them. That's quite an achievement, all things considered.
11. Boo Buckets
Like Teenie Beanies, the almighty McDonald's Boo Buckets weren't Happy Meal toys; they were, however, the absolute best thing you could collect your Trick-or-Treat haul with on Halloween circa the late '80s and early '90s. They tried to bring them back as “Halloween pails” in 2014, which was an admirable effort… but in this case, vintage rules.
12. Hook Toys
As an adult, I have come to realize that Hook is actually a pretty terrible movie. I still love it, though, and I always will — especially because the Rufio Happy Meal toy is a water squirter. And no, that is not a euphemism.
13. Rescue Rangers Cars
Like The Little Mermaid toys, these Rescue Ranger cars hit Happy Meals in 1989 — and also like The Little Mermaid toys, they make me feel so very, very old. In fact, there's only one thing that could make me feel older, and that's…
14. Fraggle Rock Cars
Yeah. Those. From 1988. As a side note, is anyone else kind of curious about why so many '80s and '90s Happy Meal toys were vehicles of some sort?