Monday, May 20

The lost childhood innocence


THERE is no usual hype to McDonald’s Happy Meals but whenever they introduce a whole new line of cartoon-themed toys (a new character launched each week usually for a stretch of four weeks), a bizarre demand is set off for them.

For instance, just to catch a smile on my nephew’s face whenever McDonald’s introduced a new set of Happy Meal toys, I would queue up

and try to get my hands on the toys to surprise him when he came to visit his grandmother in a neighbouring state.

The most complete set of Happy Meal toys I collected was that of the infamous little yellow minions. I managed to buy each variation and without my nephew knowing, would secretly arrange them in his room.

Although, as a child, he soon got bored with the toys, that instant joy when he saw a line of yellow minions waiting for him in his room was a priceless childhood memory any adult could give a child.

Back then, when I was queuing up to buy the little minions, I saw people snapping up dozens in one go but I never bothered to wonder why.

Not long after, I heard about people throwing untouched meals into rubbish bins. Apparently, they just wanted the toys and I figured they must be over-zealous fans.

Nevertheless, I was bewildered this time around when McDonald’s released their new series of Hello Kitty and Car toys.

On the day the toys were released, the few people lining up in front of me actually bought about 20 of them. I thought they might be collecting them for a group of children.

But on the second week, a customer was arguing endlessly with one of the cashiers. McDonald’s had introduced a new policy limiting a customer to only a maximum of two Happy meals per transaction. If a customer wanted more, he or she had to re-queue.

Two women, in frustration, asked for an explanation and the cashier unhesitatingly told them: “This is the company’s new policy and no compromises are allowed.”

At this time, I overheard students lining up behind me whispering they saw Happy Meal toys being sold at RM15 a piece under a charity’s name. Whereas an original Happy Meal that comes with a toy costs less than RM10.

Presumably, what McDonald’s cashiers saw the most during this limited period were not the happy faces of children but all kinds of greedy countenance.

A few days ago, I discovered people selling the Kitty Cat Teapot, just released last week, for RM35 – and some for even RM100! Obviously, these people were buying limited Happy Meal toys just to turn a profit.

I finally understood McDonald’s well intentions. Happy Meal toys should be enjoyed the most by children

or at least cartoon fans who cherish them, not the greedy who just want to make a quick buck.

Hopefully, when you see someone selling limited edition Happy Meal toys at a high price online, you will not buy them. These toys are for children and should not be used to make money.

Toys can only play their full role when they fall into the hands of an innocent child or even an adult with a child’s heart. If they fall into the hands of the greedy, the true meaning will be distorted.

This brings up one crucial question. Of the massive crowd lining up to get their hands on these toys, how many are actually sincere?

Well, your guess is as good as mine. (Translated from Oriental Daily)