Taco Bell Says Adios To Kids' Meals And Toys | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Taco Bell Says Adios To Kids' Meals And Toys

That Crunchy Taco will no longer come with a side of toy.

Taco Bell announced Tuesday that it is ditching kids' meals and the trinkets that come with them at its U.S. locations. The items will begin to come off menus starting this month, the company says, and should be completely gone by January 2014.

"As we continue our journey of being a better, more relevant Taco Bell, kids' meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind," Greg Creed, chief executive officer of Taco Bell, said in a statement announcing the move.

The decision may be a financial one, but nutrition advocates have been calling on fast food chains to drop the use of toys in menu items aimed at kids for years. Critics have long argued that such toy accompaniments serve as a lure to hook young eaters on food that's often loaded with calories, fat and salt.

A few years ago, the city of San Francisco passed an ordinance banning freebie toys that come with meals that fail to meet nutritional standards set by the city. But as our colleagues at KQED reported, McDonald's found a way around the ban by charging parents 10 cents for the trinkets.

With Tuesday's announcement, Taco Bell becomes the first nationwide chain to voluntarily stop selling kids' meals with toys, though regional chain Jack in the Box nixed the plastic playthings in its meals for children in 2011.

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was among the advocates who praised Taco Bell's decision.

"We urge McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and others to follow Taco Bell's lead and stop using toys or other premiums to lure kids to meals of poor nutritional quality," Wootan said in a statement.

In 2009, fast food restaurants spent $714 million on marketing to kids, according to a Federal Trade Commission report released last year. A 2008 study from the FTC estimated that the fast food industry sells more than 1.2 billion kids' meals each year.

Saying adios to kids' meals is probably a lot less financially painful for Taco Bell than it would be for McDonald's, whose Happy Meals are rumored to account for about 10 percent of sales, as NPR has reported. By contrast, kids' meals account for just half of 1 percent of Taco Bell's overall sales, according to USA Today.

And as Wootan notes, items that used to be on the Taco Bell kids' meal menu will still be available a la carte on the regular menu.

"Dropping the kids' menu may lead parents to order higher calorie meals off the regular menu, and it's not as if its adult menu is full of health food," she says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Awarded MacArthur Fellowship

She is one of the first cartoonists to be recognized. Besides her graphic novels and memoirs, Bechdel developed a simple three-question test for how women are represented in films.
NPR

Sweet: Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme Pump Up Pledge On Palm Oil

Two major doughnut chains have bowed to consumer pressure to better police their palm oil purchases. Environmentalists say it's a win for consumers, trees and animals.
NPR

Congress Quietly Extends The Budget — Past Election Day, Anyway

Since the GOP retook the House, the chamber once brought the country to the brink of a debt default and once shut down the government. But in election years, including this one, there's no such drama.
NPR

Look, Mom, I Finally Made It To Broadway!

NPR's Michel Martin will sit down with a panel of award-winning playwrights to ask about diversity in theater. Follow here or join us on Twitter on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, using #NPRMichel.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.