The First McDonald’s Happy Meal Movie Tie-In Was For Which Movie?
Answer – Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Happy Meals loaded with little toys and trinkets are a staple of the American fast food landscape now, but once upon a time, there was no Happy Meal and the numerous movie and toy franchise tie-ins that we now expect hadn’t emerged yet. The first official Happy Meals were introduced in Kansas City in 1977 and included a burger, small fries, a packet of cookies, and a surprise gift of some sort (a McDoodle stencil, a McWrist wallet, an ID bracelet, a puzzle lock, a spinning top, or a McDonaldland character-shaped eraser).
In 1979, McDonald’s took the program nationwide and by the end of the year, the perfect opportunity presented itself for a high profile advertising tie-in. Paramount was looking to promote Star Trek: The Motion Picture in order to build up hype around the franchise (especially after their failed attempt to relaunch Star Trek as a TV series). McDonald’s was looking for a promotion that would appeal to kids beyond the simple “here’s a top with a McDonald’s logo on it” fare and would also bring in advertising revenue.
They launched a five box series (six if you include the variant Spock box), briefly rebranded as the Star Trek Meal, that included different toys like a plastic “U.S.S. Enterprise” ring, a Star Trek bracelet, a Starfleet fold-out game, a replica video communicator (with a scroll wheel of comics inside it), or double glitter iron-on sheets—all for $1.47.
Image courtesy of James Sawyer/StarTrek.com