At the tender age of 8, what could be better than rounding up as many neighborhood kids as would fit in two Chevy Astros and heading to the nearest McDonald’s for your birthday? For surely, in addition to piles of gifts, you would receive:
1) The admiration and respect of your peers
2) Happy Meals for all!
3) Happy Meal toys for all!
4) The opportunity to frolic in the Playland
6) Most importantly: the McDonald’s birthday cake
The McDonald’s birthday cake was a thing of beauty. The birthday boy or girl could choose from either vanilla or chocolate cake—though clearly, chocolate was widely preferred. The thick, glossy white icing had high edges and an even higher rating on the glycemic index. And, of course, the sugar-and-dye McDonaldland character toppers, each holding a sugary balloon, placed lovingly on top of the cake by a teenage assistant manager named Randy.
The only difficult part of the day for the birthday boy or girl was the task of having to divide up these sugar decorations, usually based on best-friendship status. This was slightly awkward, even for an 8-year-old, as the process “outed” latent rivalries, preferences, and alliances. (It is a widely known fact that the Survivor franchise used this same pick ’em model to make challenge winners “assign” rewards a day or so before Tribal Council.)
But right now, take a moment, because here is your piece, laid out for you upon a Disney character-themed plate. It’s a nice corner chunk, and staring up at you, cheerfully waiting to be eaten, is Grimace. (Or Birdie, Hamburglar, Ronald, or Mayor McCheese.)
Note 1: I will be using the “If Your Parents Loved You” subhead quite frequently, until my parents discover this blog. I, for one, only ever attended McDonald’s birthday parties, but was never given one.
Note 2: That I have lasted even a few days as the editor of an ‘80s/’90s nostalgia blog without typing the words “Mayor McCheese” has been an exercise in steely self-control.