The Unhappy Meal, an idea that is mine

McDonald’s has, as many of you may know, a special Happy Meal® for kids, which is designed to slake the appetites of youngsters, give them a fairly healthy meal, and also bring them a bit of fun. Here are the options:

Entree:

Hamburger
4 piece Chicken McNuggets
6 piece Chicken McNuggets

Side dish:

Apple slices
Yogurt

Fries:

Small child-size portion of French fries, or, if you abjure the side dish above, you can get a larger portion of fries.

Drink

1% Low fat milk
Apple juice drink

Toys

The toys change seasonally; the latest is a series of small toys based on the Justice League movie. I’m told that often there is a choice of “boys’ toys” or “girls’ toys, which of course would rouse the ire of many.

These of course are intended as rewards for well behaved kids. But what if your kid is being a brat or a stinker, and doesn’t deserve the above?

My solution was to propose the Unhappy Meal™, a meal designed to take the mickey out of any poorly behaved child. Here are your choices:

Entree:

McLiver: Calves’ Liver with onions on a bun
McMarmite Nuggets: Cubes of tofu with a Marmite dipping sauce (choice of 4 or 6)
McTongue: Cow tongue sandwich with horseradish dressing

Side dish:

Carrot sticks
Raw broccoli florets
Durian slices

Fry-equivalent:

Overcooked asparagus spears

Drink:

Water

Toy:

Minature New York Times Crossword Puzzle (taken from the adult Sunday puzzle) with a pencil stub

I think this is a great idea to help kids in line, but I solicit your suggestions for what else might be part of the Unhappy Meal.™

Here, for example, is the McLiver:

72 Comments

  1. Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Overcooked asparagus spears are tantamount to child abuse! Marginally, cruel and unusual punishment. However they would greatly contribute to an “unhappy meal.”

    • chrism
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 5:12 am | Permalink

      Apart from the overcooked asparagus, which is a crime against asparagus but not against my palate, I’d be happy with all of it. Liver, Marmite, Durian – all great foods! Sign me up for one.

  2. Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Overcooked asparagus spears are tantamount to child abuse! Marginally, cruel and unusual punishment. However they would greatly contribute to an “unhappy meal.”

  3. Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    ooops, sorry for the double post. Hope I don’t have to eat “McLiver.”

    • Posted September 14, 2018 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      Like the vulture that ate bits of Prometheus!

    • Posted September 14, 2018 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      Like the vulture that ate bits of Prometheus!

      • John Ottaway
        Posted September 14, 2018 at 5:05 am | Permalink

        Chapeau

  4. Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Hysterical. My kids stopped getting them a while ago, partly because it’s cheaper to buy the value items and assemble a meal without the plastic toy that ends up in trash in less than a month anyhow.

  5. Vaal
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Please tell me the “McLiver” is a joke.

    Please.

    It’s the stuff of nightmares (especially for a hater-of-liver).

  6. Rita
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Perfect, except for the drink. Surely you can think of a better option!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes! Water is an option in a Happy Meal in NZ. It’s the recommended drink for kids to take to school too. If they have it regularly they like it just fine.

      I’d recommend an option without the toy for McDonald’s themselves. If one kid is playing up, they don’t get the toy but the others do. The threat of not getting the toy is usually enough to make kids behave ime.

      (Most schools here don’t provide lunch, but we do have a free breakfast programme for schools that request it. The breakfasts are provided/paid for by various businesses that sponsor the programme. There are free lunches available in a very small number of areas but it’s been so successful I expect we’ll see more of it. They’re provided by other parents with the help of donations.)

  7. Barney
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    “McMarmite Nuggets: Cubes of tofu with a Marmite dipping”? I’m in! And I would have been aged 4, too. Tofu may be bland and tasteless (only time I had it and liked it was in a wine-based marinade my vegetarian cousin used), but Marmite would rescue it. Because Marmite makes anything good.

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      I’d do Marmite on Tofu, but being Australian would go for Vegemite instead.

  8. Simon Hayward
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Liver and onions in a bun doesn’t sound bad – perhaps reflecting my origins and age, but it’s comfort food that I don’t get any more, wrapped in bread, what’s not to like? You can keep the raw broccoli.

    • David Coxill
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Liver lovers of the world unite .

      • Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Hear, hear!

      • Posted September 14, 2018 at 1:59 am | Permalink

        Yes! The only problem with liver is the tendency for it to be over-cooked which ruins it. Many people’s distaste for liver probably stems from having it reduced to shoe-leather in a school canteen somewhere. Properly cooked it can be delicious.

        • Richard
          Posted September 14, 2018 at 4:27 am | Permalink

          Especially calves’ liver. Lightly floured, quickly pan-fried in butter with sage leaves, served with fava beans and a nice Chianti. Yum!

      • Wunold
        Posted September 14, 2018 at 2:03 am | Permalink

        Another one here. As a kid, I loved the fried liver with onion rings, apple slices, and mashed potatoes. Thus, the McLiver would’ve held no horrors for me – though it may have failed to compete with my grandma’s liver. 😛 (pun intended)

        Damn, now I’m craving liver now, at 9 a.m. im my timezone.

    • Joe Dickinson
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      My wife used to make me prepare liver and onions (I’m the cook in this “woke” family). It’s been a while but, as I recall, frying the liver with some diced bacon helped.

    • David Harper
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 3:00 am | Permalink

      Count me among the liver lovers. Liver and onions is a dish fit for a king.

      • Barbara Radcliffe
        Posted September 14, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Me too. Lightly sautéed calf or chicken liver with perhaps a touch of garlic. Add some red wine on the side, and what else could be wanted?

  9. Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Now that I’ve seen the McLiver Sandwich I am definitely unhappy. Mission accomplished!

  10. Scott
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    This is great! How about adding Haggis to the menu? You can call it the “McHaggis”. And it comes with a full description of what’s in it! 😀

    • Posted September 13, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Or as Margaret Atwood would say, “Haggis McBaggis” )from her great novel Cat’s Eye!

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      That one sounds good too, involuntary mouthwatering response…

    • David Harper
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 3:00 am | Permalink

      Haggis is one of the foods of the gods.

  11. Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    The Unhappy Meal would make me a happy camper, but I’d eschew the overcooked asparagus and the Durian. 🙂

    How about tons of habanero sauce in everything, soggy sandwiches with overly juicy tomato slices right up against the bread, diet soda only or bitter-greens smoothies without the sugar, burned popcorn, and colouring books already coloured in?

    • Rita
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Bitter green smoothies is good, and you get extra points for the coloring books already colored in!

      • Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        I changed my mind about the habanero sauce. That’d be too cruel and cause a lot of tears. Maybe mild wasabi?

  12. Joe Dickinson
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    For my young self, beets, particularly canned, was the worst thing my mother inflicted on us. You must realize that juice from canned beets infects everything else on the plate, ruining an entire meal. In her defense, I don’t think she ever knew how much I detested them.

  13. Neil Wolfe
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    The unhappiest meal for a child is undoubtedly a communion wafer.

  14. Janet
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    As kids we had to eat ONE BITE of everything my mom prepared, which was sometimes really difficult. But over time the method had the intended effect: I now love liver and cow’s tongue and broccoli and pretty much everything.

    • Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      As a kid, I liked to try anything unusual my Dad was eating, and learned to love hot peppers, bitter greens, bitter melon, chicken gizzards, stinky fish, etc.

  15. rickflick
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I detested liver until I was about 16 years old. The smell of it cooking made me nauseous. But eventually I came to love liver and onions! Not sure about chunks in a bun though.

  16. Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Here in Portland, OR the Happy Meal comes with Social Justice League “gag toys.” They’re literally just gags, but they self-identify as toys.

  17. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Any offal would put me right off, though onions tends to make just about anything taste nice. I even had some tripe and onions once that I had to admit were nice. I don’t think even onions could cover the taste of liver or kidneys though.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Sliced stuffed lamb’s heart. Mmmm.

  18. Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Last thing McDonald’s wants is more kids throwing temper tantrums.

  19. max blancke
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    My wife has been using the term “Unhappy Meal” for 20 years, beginning when they were the thing she craved during pregnancy, but could never keep down for more than a few minutes.

  20. Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    As with many foods, I’d be happy to have liver or tongue if they were cooked right (or by the right cooks!) Beef liver browned, but not overcooked (until mealy). Pates can be exceptional. Chopped chicken liver, umm!

    Bad kids’ menu could be Awful Offal:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offal

    Might also try Guinea Pigs, Snake, Crickets or other bugs, Fish eggs, eyes, tails, or feet of any animal,etc.

    So many possibilities.

    Vegetables: Okra in its’ slimy version, overcooked/underseasoned any vegetable.

  21. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    You’re a mamby pamby soft touch PCC[E]! Fit the naughty kids with an ankle bracelet that includes a mobile phone blocking signal with range two metres & advanced ‘Fitbit’ technology that awards a tidy room quotient, mumbles-under-the-breath percentage, dog walking mileage, hamster cage cleaning coefficient etc.

    To earn ANY McDonalds meal requires a SAT over 700. Sorted! If a kiddie doesn’t reform it is sent up chimneys to clean them & it must wear ‘trainers’ at least three seasons out of date – the real baddies wear sandals with socks.

    ** Socialisation Aptitude Test

  22. Posted September 13, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Yes! Great post! 🙂

  23. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Jesus, why not punish the poor kids with a sponge of gall & vinegar, Roman Centurion-style?

  24. Chris Schulte
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    As someone who has ordered bone marrow pho, the unhappy meals sound wonderful! The McLiver and McTounge on a mini French Baguette (maybe with a cranberry chutney?) might actually get me into a McDonalds again.

  25. James
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    My kids happily chow down on liver and tongue, broccoli and carrot sticks. Last time we had tongue my middle child ate about half of mine, little thief. People look down on organ meat, but I honestly think it tastes better than many cuts of meat.

    I think you should go the army route: The Unhappy Meal is made to be as nutritious as possible, but about as tasty as an uncooked potato. This was done to keep soldiers from eating too many emergency rations. For kids, it gives nutrition without flavor.

  26. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Brussels sprouts are also very popular with kids. Be careful though, if you regularly punish them with sproutsh they miggt start liking them.
    What never fails is overcooked and ‘unfresh’ cod (or pout or bib), Had that on Fridays in school. Took me years to like fish again.

    • Marta
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Oh, me too. I began school in England and we had that on Fridays as well. It was a long time ago, but I remember getting whacked pretty often with a ruler for refusing to eat it. Fucking nuns.

  27. Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    My children are adults now and ‘d still be there in maccas waiting for them to eat it, whilst watching them gag on the thought of eating it. I also dont like the idea of paying to watxh them vomit…. i’d be the mac unhappy.

  28. Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    My children are adults now and ‘d still be there in maccas waiting for them to eat it, whilst watching them gag on the thought of eating it. I also dont like the idea of paying to watxh them vomit…. i’d be the mac unhappy.

  29. Hempenstein
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I betcha Harold’s in Edison NJ has beef tongue with horseradish. Tofu/marmite sounds great, too.

    My unhappy meal would be cheap sausage with anything made outta rutabagas, and stewed rhubarb for dessert.

  30. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Instead of a meal, when the kid opens the box, a jack-in-the-box pops out and slaps them across the face. There is no meal because naughty children don’t get food.

    Yep, discipline, 70s style. Traumatizing generations efficiently & effectively.

  31. Posted September 13, 2018 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    While travelling in Spain with a bf in my early 20’s we ate delicious liver and onions, spinach, and flan every night for about a week in Madrid. Seems the whole meal cost about $1. My mother hated liver so I never had it growing up. Don’t think I’ve cooked it in years. Gotta have a ton of onions and/or bacon with it.

  32. Doug
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Drink: Prune juice.

    Side dish: Dog biscuits.

    Toy: “Educational” comic book.

    • David Harper
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 3:02 am | Permalink

      Devotees of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will recall that prune juice is a warrior’s drink. And that verdict was delivered by a Klingon, so who am I to argue?

  33. Posted September 14, 2018 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Make that overcooked canned asparagus spears. Ugh.

    I would dig the tongue sandwich tho.

    Never heard of Marmite, except for the one you cook in, so I looked it up. Sounds absolutely wretched.

    • Posted September 14, 2018 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      Yuck! Canned asparagus. I only eat my asparagoose fresh and grilled in a little olive oil, fresh rosemary, and s&p.

      • Posted September 14, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        You don’t blanch it first. Just pop it in the pan? Sounds good! Except, what’s s&p?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 14, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          Here’s a clue John: “Now my idiot bf has gone S&P he thinks he’s George Clooney”

        • Posted September 14, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          Duh. I think I figured it out. Not my day.

        • Posted September 14, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          No blanching needed. Salt and pepper, and done on bbq.

    • boggy
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 1:46 am | Permalink

      Marmite is a yeast extract; liked by some, hated by others.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted September 14, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        I loved it as a kid, but now I find it too salty.

    • Terry Sheldon
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Canned asparagus, overcooked or not, is listed as a biological weapon and banned by the Geneva Convention. Or at least it ought to be. Being forced to eat canned asparagus in my childhood put me off even the fresh stuff for many years. Now lightly steamed or stir-fried asparagus is a particular favorite of mine.

  34. Posted September 14, 2018 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    That actually sounds quite tasty apart from murdering the asparagus.

    I do remember a buffet style lunch with some of my friends once which included a selection of meats.

    Friend: “This is really nice, I wonder which part of the animal the ‘tongue’ comes from?”

    Me: “The clue is in the name, it’s the tongue.”

    Friend: “Don’t be silly, they wouldn’t give us actual tongue…”

  35. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 14, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Liver is nauseating.

    And I don’t often eat at McDonalds in English-speaking countries.

    However, for someone like me who is totally un-adventurous with their food, in a strange country where I have no idea what the items on the menu might be, a McDonalds is a godsend, since they have pictures and prices and often a computerised push-button screen to select your menu choices, and a menu that resembles reasonably closely that of the MacDonalds at home.

    cr

  36. Marta
    Posted September 14, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    My mother used to dose orange juice with cod liver oil and make me drink it everyday. This concoction would make me belch cod liver oil for hours. To this day, I can’t drink orange juice.

    So maybe swap that for the water.

  37. Jeff Morgan
    Posted September 14, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Ox-tongue and English mustard sarnies are fab.

  38. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 14, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the entrees proposed by PCC(E) are way too appetising! How about some cultural appropriations instead:

    McChickenfeet
    McLocusts
    McMealieworms
    McLutefisk
    McPidans
    McHakari

    Yum yum!

    • Posted September 15, 2018 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      McLutefisk. Any way you eat lutefisk, it’s a bit like eating ground cellophane.


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