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Deconstructing McDonald’s Happy Meal and the Happy Meal Toys

One of the most famous items on McDonald’s menu is the Happy Meal. The box, fries, and Happy Meal toys are enjoyed as much today as they have ever been.

McDonald’s Happy Meals are available in three options with prices ranging from $3.29 – $6.49 and include fries, apple slices, and a drink. Every Happy Meal comes with a Happy Meal Toy featuring cultural phenomena like Disney, Pokemon, and Star Trek characters. McDonald’s also has a Happy Meal App for interactive fun.

We are breaking down everything you need to know about Happy Meals and how you can access new, exclusive deals and interactive fun!

What Are the Happy Meal Options?

McDonald’s Happy Meals are available in 3 meal options. You can choose from a Hamburger Happy Meal, a 4-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal, or a 6-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal. Every Happy Meal comes with your choice of a kid’s drink, a kid-size fry, apple slices, and a Happy Meal toy served in the famous Happy Meal box.

All McDonald’s Happy Meals are available for order for inside dining and at the drive-thru.

You can even have your Happy Meal ready for pickup or delivered right to your door with Mobile Order and Pay and McDonald’s McDelivery. However, it is important to note that not all options are available for delivery orders.

There are many ways to customize your Happy Meals at McDonald’s at an additional cost. First, let’s discuss what is included in your standard Happy Meal order.

1. Hamburger Happy Meal

The classic McDonald’s Hamburger Happy Meal features the iconic McDonald’s hamburger. You can make it a Cheeseburger Happy Meal by adding cheese at no additional cost. The hamburger comes with a 100% Canadian beef burger patty, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and onion served on a hamburger bun.

The Hamburger Happy Meal comes with kid-sized fry and apple slices. In addition, you can choose a kid’s drink from the Happy Meals options that include a 1% Low Fat Milk Jug, Reduced Sugar Chocolate Milk, DASANI® Water, or an Honest Kids® Appley Ever After® Organic Juice Drink.

Your Hamburger Happy Meal comes served in the classic Happy Meal box with a Happy Meal toy.

2. 4 Piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal

McDonald’s offers a 4-piece Chicken Nugget Happy meal served in their iconic Happy Meal box. The famous Happy Meal toy is always included in your Happy Meal. This meal comes with a box of 4 white-meat Chicken McNuggets. Your 4-piece Chicken McNuggets also allows for your choice of one sauce.

Your sauce options for Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal include:

  • Tangy BBQ Sauce
  • Honey
  • Spicy Buffalo Sauce
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Honey Mustard Sauce
  • Creamy Ranch Sauce

In addition to your Chicken McNuggets, you will also receive a kid-sized fry and apple slices and be asked to select a drink option.

The included options for Happy Meal drinks are 1% Low Fat Milk Jug, Reduced Sugar Chocolate Milk, DASANI® Water, or an Honest Kids® Appley Ever After® Organic Juice Drink.

The 4-piece Chicken Nugget Meal is also featured as one of McDonald’s MyMcDonald’s Rewards items.

When you order any of your favorites from the McDonald’s app, you earn points that can then be used to redeem a free 4-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal.

3. 6 Piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal

Six white-meat Chicken McNuggets come served in a Happy Meal Box alongside a kid-sized order of fries, apple slices, and a kids’ drink option. A Happy Meal toy is included to complete your McDonald’s 6-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal.

When ordering your 6-piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal, you will be asked to choose your kid-size drink.

You can choose your drink from these options:

  • 1% Low Fat Milk Jug
  • Reduced Sugar Chocolate Milk
  • DASANI® Water
  • Honest Kids® Appley Ever After® Organic Juice Drink

In addition to making your drink selection, you will be able to select one of McDonald’s sauces to go with your McNuggets.

The sauces are Tangy BBQ Sauce, Honey, Spicy Buffalo Sauce, Sweet and Sour Sauce, Honey Mustard Sauce, and Creamy Ranch Sauce.

How Much Does a Happy Meal Cost?

McDonald’s Happy Meals start at a standard price that will vary depending on your location and local McDonald’s franchisee. A Hamburger Happy Meal is $4.69 in Connecticut and $3.29 in Missouri. The 4-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal can range from $3.39 to $5.49, with a 6-piece option from $4.39 to as much as $6.49.

These prices include your hamburger or nuggets, fries, apple slices, and a drink.

However, some franchisees only include milk in the base price and add upcharges for apple juice and water, while others add a service charge for each drink selection.

When it comes to what your McDonald’s Happy Meal will cost you, check your local McDonald’s restaurant or your McDonald’s App to check your local pricing and extra fees.

McDonald’s Happy MealSizePrice
Hamburger Happy Meal1 piece$3.29- $4.69
Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal4 pieces$3.39- $5.49
Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal6 pieces$4.39- $6.49
Prices May Vary Based on Location

More than 90% of McDonald’s restaurants are franchise-owned, so prices and features will vary depending on your location.

There are many ways to customize your Happy Meal order, including other drink options, extra fries, and modifications to the classic hamburger.

These additional options are always available, and you can add them to your McDonald’s Happy Meal for an additional charge. These selections will be added to the base Happy Meal Price.

You can also choose to remove some of the included ingredients for no additional charge.

Customizing Your Happy Meal

You have a few options for customizing your Happy Meal. When ordering a Hamburger Happy Meal, you are given the option to alter the Hamburger itself in a variety of ways. These options are not available for Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal.

You can choose first to change what is included in the McDonald’s Hamburger. Your options are None, Regular, or Extra.

Customization is available for the following ingredients.

  • Mustard- Choose None or Regular, or Extra at no additional charge
  • Ketchup- Choose None or Regular, or Extra at no additional charge
  • Diced Onions- Choose None or Regular, or Extra at no additional charge
  • Pickles- Choose None or Regular, or Extra at no additional charge
  • Meat- Choose None or Regular, or Extra for $1.19
  • Regular Bun- Choose None or Regular
  • Salt- Choose None or Regular, or Extra at no additional charge

Next, you can choose to add ingredients to your McDonald’s Happy Meal hamburger.

American cheese is always available as a free add-on to create a Cheeseburger Happy Meal. All the additional add-ons are available for an extra charge and in customizable amounts.

Here are the prices for each additional add-on, depending on the quantity you choose to add to your hamburger from a McDonald’s in CT.

Item1 order2 orders3 orders4 orders
Shredded Lettuce$0.25$0.50$0.75N/A
Roma Tomatoes (2 slices each order)$0.80$1.60$2.40$3.20

If you prefer your hamburger to be plain, you can also request that when you are ordering for no additional cost.

The next customization option for all Happy Meals is to choose your side. The standard Happy Meal comes with apple slices as the default side option, but you can choose extra fries instead at no additional cost.

When ordering your Happy Meal, there are two other options for customization. You can choose to substitute extra fries for the apple slices at no additional charge, and you can also select your drink.

Drink prices and inclusion will vary greatly depending on your location and local franchise policy.

For example, some locations will offer all the Happy Meal drink options included in the meal cost. Others will only include milk. Some McDonald’s locations also include extra small soft drinks in their Happy Meal price.

Below is an example of upcharge prices from a McDonald’s in Connecticut.

  • Milk Jug- $0.30
  • Honest Kids Organic Apple Juice- $0.30
  • Chocolate Milk- $0.30
  • Dasani Bottled Water- $0.80
  • Any extra small soft drink- $0.30

Be sure to download the McDonald’s app to get accurate and up-to-date pricing on your next Happy Meal.

How To Get a Free Happy Meal

While there are no McDonald’s Happy Meal Coupons, there are a few ways to earn and receive a free McDonald’s Happy Meal. Using the newly launched MyMcDonald’s Rewards program and ordering from the McDonald’s app, you can get exclusive deals that include Happy Meal specials.

When you download the McDonald’s app, you are asked to sign up for the MyMcDonald’s Rewards program.

Every time you order through the app, you earn points on your purchase. Your first purchase using your rewards will provide you with 1500 bonus points. The app also features a QR code that can be scanned at every dining room and drive-thru.

Once you collect your points, you can redeem them for a variety of menu items, including a Happy Meal.

It requires 6000 MyMcDonald’s Rewards points to get a free McDonald’s 4-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal.

The McDonald’s app also gives you access to their exclusive Daily Deals! These deals are for a limited time and circulate regularly.

One of the most popular Daily Deals is a free Happy Meal with the purchase of any regular combo meal. So make sure to check your app regularly to find new and current deals.

You can also register for your birthday with McDonald’s Rewards to receive a birthday surprise. 

This is usually in line with current promotions or a small free menu item, and the rewards program has replaced the long-running McDonald’s free birthday Happy Meal.

However, there are still many franchises that still participate in this tradition. To find out if your local McDonald’s offers children a free Happy Meal on their birthday, call them and ask about the details.

Happy Meal Calories and Nutrition

McDonald’s Happy Meals include more nutritious choices like apple slices, smaller fries, milk, water, and organic apple juice as drink options. The number of calories in your Happy Meal will depend on any changes or substitutions you make to your order. All Happy Meals contain wheat and milk.

The McDonald’s website allows you to build your own meal to access detailed nutritional information, including an accurate calorie count and a list of potential allergens.

Once you access the Happy Meal page, you can choose from Hamburger, 4-piece, or 6-piece Chicken Nugget Meals.

After making your meal selection, you can click the Build Your Own Meal link from the bottom right.

Here, you can make changes and adjustments to your meal and then use the McDonald’s Nutrition Calculator to access your Happy Meals nutritional breakdown.

Each standard Happy Meal item is broken down, and you can access each one’s calorie count. You can then make any changes to access a new calorie count.

A Hamburger Happy Meal has 475 calories and includes:

  • Hamburger- 250 calories
  • Kid’s Fry – 110 calories
  • Apple Slices – 15 calories
  • Low Fat Milk Jug- 100 calories

A 4-piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal has 375 calories, and a 6-piece has 475. They include:

  • 4-piece McNuggets – 170 calories
  • 6-piece McNuggets – 250 calories
  • Kid’s Fry- 110 calories
  • Apple Slices – 15 calories
  • Low Fat Milk Jug- 100 calories

The chart below shows the calories and allergens for McDonald’s Happy Meals without any customizations and including the milk drink selection.

McDonald’s Happy MealCaloriesAllergens
Hamburger Happy Meal475Wheat and Milk
Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal – 4 pieces (no sauce)395Wheat and Milk
Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal – 6 pieces (no sauce)475Wheat and Milk
Happy Meal Calories and Allergens

If you want to order an allergen-free happy meal, you will have to order the Hamburger Happy Meal without a bun and substitute extra apple slices for the fries. This is because McDonald’s fries include both wheat and milk.

It is important to note that all allergens listed do not include any of the dipping sauce selections. Therefore, when you choose a sauce for your Chicken Nugget Happy Meal, you are adding both calories and allergens.

Here are the allergens and calories you would add with each sauce selection:

Creamy Ranch Sauce110Egg and Milk
Honey Mustard Sauce50Egg
Spicy Buffalo Sauce30Milk
Sweet and Sour Sauce50Wheat and Soy
Tangy BBQ Sauce40Wheat and Soy
Happy Meal Sauce Calories and Allergens

What Is McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy?

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy is more famous than the meal itself. Their limited-edition, themed toys have been a childhood tradition since 1979. With exclusive toys featuring Disney, Pokemon, Star Trek, and almost every other pop culture phenomenon, the Happy Meal toy has created generations of collectors and fans.

The first Happy Meal toys were not quite what you know them to be today. When the Happy Meal launched in 1979, the first Happy Meal toys were a stencil called the “McDoodler,” a “McWrist” wallet, and an eraser shaped like one of the McDonald’s characters.

A few months later, McDonald’s would launch their first collaborative promotional toy with their Star-Trek-themed toys from Star-Trek: The Motion Picture.

Since then, McDonald’s Happy Meal toys have become a part of pop culture and even become collector’s items.

The rarest Happy Meal toys are from 1985, and they were only released in St. Louis.

This rare, short-run set of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys was a set of 4 plastic Transformers. Because they were only available in St. Louis., these are the rarest McDonald’s toy out there.

One thing that makes the Happy Meal toy such an anomaly in the fast-food children’s space is the collector’s value that many of their toys carry over time.

The first most notable McDonald’s toy craze was in 1995 with the release of Teenie Beanie Baby toys.

This release was so popular and so sought after that McDonald’s ran out of them well before the promotion was scheduled to end.

The Teenie Beanie Babies toys remain one of the most valuable Happy Meal toy collections, with some of the rarer and unopened ones fetching more than $8,000 apiece.

More recently, in 2021, McDonald’s partnered with Pokemon to celebrate its 25th anniversary. This collaboration attracted both child and adult collectors and Pokemon fans from all over.

These limited-edition card packs caused such a frenzy that people were lining up at McDonald’s to purchase Happy Meals, and full cases of these cards were being sold on eBay for $1000.

Because of these reactions, McDonald’s has prohibited the purchase of full cases of Happy Meal toys, and your local McDonald’s may limit the number of toys you can purchase.

You can still buy a Happy Meal toy without buying a Happy Meal itself. The prices will vary based on location, and you may be required to purchase another menu item.

The Happy Meal toys, according to McDonald’s, are not meant to be gender-specific. However, some promotions are run concurrently, and you may be asked to select a boy toy or a girl toy.

McDonald’s has stated that their policy is to ask parents about their toy preferences based on the theme and not gender.

In addition to the main Happy Meal toy, McDonald’s has also begun offering a toddler Happy Meal toy for children under the age of 3.

McDonald’s changes its featured toy about once a month, with certain promotions lasting longer. The toys are released in collections with the goal of collecting them all.

Every location will likely have different toy offerings as they are delivered randomly across McDonald’s restaurants.

You can view the most current toy collection on the exclusive Happy Meal website.

The interactive Happy Meal website features toy information, downloadable activities for kids and families, games, and more.

It is one of the many ways McDonald’s takes the Happy Meal to the next generation with interactive digital and online marketing. The website corresponds with the very popular addition of the Happy Meal app.

Happy Meal App

The Happy Meal App is available on Apple and Android devices. The app includes exclusive games and creative activities designed to help grow and learn and develop essential life skills and is based on the principles of epistemic play. The app allows kids to scan each Happy Meal box to unlock more features and games.

You can download the McDonald’s Happy Meal App on any Apple or Android device.

The app is safe and anonymous and was designed with the help of child development experts. There is no data collection or third-party advertising allowed.

It is a free app for your children to use, and it does not feature or require in-app purchases for access to any of its content.

The Happy Meal App allows you to scan the QR code on select Happy Meal boxes and the smile on the side of every Happy Meal box.

It also includes a suite of games like “Be an Inventor,” activities like building a recycled greenhouse and popsicle recipes, and free digital books.

The goal of the app is to help kids “think creatively, make things they can be proud of, and strengthen their skills.”

McDonald’s Happy Meal Box

The McDonald’s Happy Meal Box is an important part of the Happy Meal branding and product. It is as important as the food and the toy inside. The boxes are themed to match the current toy promotion and feature the famous golden arches as handles. They are made from recycled paperboard and are 100% recyclable.

The Happy Meal Box is such a major component of the Happy Meal and so well-loved by children that Mcdonald’s released a template for children to create and design their own Happy Meal Boxes at home.

Happy Meal Boxes also find a second life as a collectors’ item. Happy Meal boxes from limited-edition runs can sell on eBay anywhere from $5 a box to $75 a box. Disney-themed and vintage Happy Meal boxes are often the most valuable.

If you’re interested in creating your own Happy Meal Box, you can find the template here.

Does McDonald’s Have Breakfast Happy Meals?

McDonald’s does not have a Breakfast Happy Meal. You cannot purchase a Happy Meal during breakfast hours. A Breakfast Happy Meal was tested in 2016, but it was never launched nationally. Select McDonald’s locations may agree to serve your breakfast items in a Happy Meal with a toy if requested.

Since McDonald’s decided to remove the popular all-day breakfast menu, McDonald’s locations have returned to offering an exclusive breakfast menu from 5 am to 11 am.

Happy Meals are available to order after 11 am for lunch and dinner orders. Some McDonald’s franchise locations still carry the all-day breakfast; however, you will need to check with your local McDonald’s for their policies.

The small test of the McDonald’s Breakfast Happy Meal was run in Tulsa, OK, in 2016 and featured the choice of 2 McGriddles or an Egg and Cheese McMuffin.

That same year, the all-day breakfast menu was launched nationally, and all menu items were available all day. This eliminated the need for a separate Breakfast Happy Meal.

In some locations, you can ask for your breakfast items to be served in a Happy Meal box with a toy when you purchase the toy in addition to your breakfast.

The prices and availability of this custom Breakfast Happy Meal will vary based on location and individual franchisee policies.


McDonald’s Happy Meal has found a way to sustain its reputation as a staple of the childhood experience. From the toys to the characters and even the box itself, the Happy Meal continues to be a fan favorite.

With the addition of the Happy Meal website and the Happy Meal App, the Happy Meal ensures its future will be as famous as its past.

If you’re interested in finding out more tips about McDonald’s, check out the related articles below.

Related Articles:

All You Need to Know About McDonald’s Big Mac and the Big Mac Sauce

A Complete Guide to McDonald’s Breakfast Hours and the Breakfast Menu

McDonald’s Delivery: How to Order McDonald’s Online Using McDelivery

A Complete Guide to McDonald’s Lunch Hours and the Lunch Menu

About the Author

Alison Valsamis is a content creator with a passion for food, specifically cultural cuisine, family-friendly meal planning, and sustainable eating. When she is not working, she enjoys tending to her plant collection and having movie nights with her family.


November 10, 2022