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Major Fast Food Chain Pulls Kids' Meal Toys. Progress?

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jack in the box, kids meals
5th-largest burger chain yanks toys from its kids meals.

Is today the real beginning of the end of toys in kids’ meals?

National fast-food chain Jack in the Box is no longer including a piece of flashy plastic kids’ movie referencing junk in their all-in-one meals marketed to kids.

What makes the chain’s move different from banned Happy Meal toys at McDonald’s is that it’s completely voluntary. And happening in all of its restaurants — right now.

Jack in the Box spokesman Brian Luscomb told Reuters that the San Diego-based company’s decision is not related to recently passed laws in a San Francisco and one of its suburbs, which requires meals to meet certain nutritional standards before they can include enticements for  children.

Instead, a spokesman for the company, Randy Carmical, said they wanted to focus on offering better food options. Interesting that these better options look a lot like the ones McDonald’s has to offer — apples with caramel dipping sauce, for example.

The burger (and 99-cent taco) chain has won praise from the harshest of critics, the Center for Science in the Public Interest. From Reuters:

It’s terrific that Jack in the Box has taken this step,” said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the [CSPI]. “It’s really a monumental step that I hope their competitors will emulate.”

Me, too. This feels somewhat monumental, for whatever reason they’re doing it — which is more due to expense than anything altruistic like establishing a connection between kids and a brand, a brand that, in the end, offers up nutritionally empty, unhealthful offerings. Those cheap plastic toys that typically wind up in the trash make up half of the fast-food industry’s marketing costs, so Jack in the Box, the fifth largest hamburger chain in the country, could save a bundle.

Interesting that the one group to voluntarily stop handing out toys is the only chain named for a toy. Totally irrelevant, just wanted to say it.

I’m all for industry — no matter how its individual members were named — taking responsibility. But I’d also like to see more regulation when it comes to advertising directed at kids — not just for fast food, but in general.

Do you think this is progress?

Photo: prosavage2600 via wikipedia

This mom didn’t want to give her kids fast food at first — find out what happened once she did.

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