February 1, 2019

McDonald’s to give away Roald Dahl books with Happy Meals


A Happy Meal: now with added literature. Photo by [email protected] licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fast food leviathans McDonald’salready no strangers to combining books and burgers—announced this week that their New Zealand branches will replace Happy Meal toys with Roald Dahl books, as part of their latest global reading scheme.

As Hattie Gladwell  reports in the Metro, “Six specially-created [read: fun-size] books will be given out to those buying Happy Meals, including Wonderful Mr Willy Wonka, Fantabulous BFG, Lucky Charlie Bucket, Matilda, Brave Little Sophie and Marvellous Miss Honey.”

An impressive 800,000 books will be given away between January and March this year. The Independent runs a quote from Jo Mitchell, director of marketing at McDonald’s New Zealand:

The Happy Meal Readers programme is all about helping parents to get their children to enjoy reading … The Roald Dahl characters are ones that many parents will have enjoyed growing up, and it’s great to play a part in introducing them to a new generation.

Ditching the plastic toys (albeit temporarily) and promoting reading among young people can only be a good PR move for Maccy D’s. Certainly it’s a more palatable news story than the inclusion of their comestibles on the most infamous banqueting table since the Last Supper.
Dahl’s popularity shows no sign of abetting among young readers – although David Walliams is making a darn good go of taking the crown, as reported in The Bookseller this week—and the inclusion of his work in this context should ensure Charlie Bucket, Matilda et al reach a newly-engaged audience.
Why stop at just the books, though? Maybe they could throw in a few examples of Dahl’s unique confectionery: an Everlasting Gobstopper, a slice of Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake, or even a packet of neatly-chopped Snozzcumber sticks … all washed down with a lovely glass of Frobscottle*. Now that would get the kids reading – although it would probably contravene the restaurant’s much-trumpeted healthy eating policies.
*If you think I’ve gone stark raving mad, well … now you know how I feel when you people talk about Harry Potter.



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.