Life | Food and Snacks | 80s | 90s

McDonald's Was Better When We Were Kids, And Here's Why

Going to McDonald's was one of the main highlights of our childhoods. It was a rare event, but when it happened, it was basically like going into an amusement park with chicken nuggets.

Not only did you get a great meal that in your opinion was full of nutritional value, but you got a kickass toy and a fun time in an awesome play place.

Let's revisit all the best parts about your childhood trips to McDonald's:

Obviously you have to start with the Happy Meal

Our mom had a rule where we couldn't open our toys until we ate our food because otherwise we would just get distracted and play with it instead of eating.

McDonald's Happy Meal Bag 1996
Happy Meals didn't always come in a boxDinosaur Dracula

Obviously, it's McNuggets or bust right? Everyone with me on that one? The thing was, when we were kids they didn't try to give us healthy alternatives. I don't even think apple slices were an option until I was already grown up, and you can forget about the yogurt they've added in recently.

It was all nuggets, french fries and soda, eaten at a rate one could only describe as inhuman, before ripping into a plastic bag containing some sort of toy that would bring more joy than you'd think possible.

Then it's time to open the toy

So, I learned when I got older that it was weird that my sister and I couldn't open our toys until we finished our meals. But honestly, at the time it made sense. It was our treat for eating our "real food" and we had the attention spans of gnat anyways so if we had opened it up we would never have eaten.

The best toys ever, at least in my opinion, had to have been the Beanie Babies. I was an AVID collector. I had guide books, I had protective cases, and of course, tag protectors. When McDonald's started giving them away for free I was in heaven.

But even a super fun, totally rad toy couldn't keep us entertained forever. We had much more important things to do, and it involved the McDonald's Play Place...

Play Places were essentially heaven for kids

What do we want? Plastic tunnels! When do we want them? ALWAYS!

So there are two kinds of Play Places, and both are equally great, but very different. There is a completely different feel to the indoor Play Place when compared to the outdoor Play Places, but let's look at both.

Indoor Play Places

Living somewhere that was cold for half of the year meant that our outdoor Mcdonald's Play Places were off limits a lot of the time, so these elaborate and amazing tunnel systems were built inside.

They often were built into these big glass areas that made itself known from pretty far away, so when you were getting close you would get super excited. They would have tunnels that you could climb through that led to slides and ropes, and of course none were complete unless they had a ball pit that kind of smelled like a deep fryer.

You always had to deal with that one weird kid who wouldn't get off the slide so you would be trapped at the top, but eventually our moms would come for us all, no matter how much we wanted to stay.

Outdoor Playgrounds

There is something so wonderful about the summer coming and being able to play outside. Sure, it was sunny and warm, but more importantly, the McDonald's Playground was open again and now you could safely play on all of your favorite structures.  

If you were lucky, there was a little tiny merry-go-round that was pretty awesome, or if not, that really creepy fish burger bouncy thing was there for you to ride around on. Mayor McCheese had his own ride that made us all dizzy, while Officer Big Mac jailed the rest of us.

There were a lot of different variations on which activities there were to play in, but no matter which type of Play Place your McDonald's had it was the best one in your eyes.

But the Play Places aren't the only amazing parts of McDonald's. There was just something about the feeling of the entire restaurant, thanks to the details around the store that we all remember so fondly...

The N64 stations were absolutely perfect

There is no game system better than an N64. I know you may say that the graphics weren't that great or whatever, but I don't care, nothing will ever beat the N64.

When it came out, only a select few of us kids were able to secure their own console for their houses, and I was not one of them. We weren't able to get one until me and my sister saved up for one on our own, which didn't happen until literally a decade later, so needless to say the McDonald's N64s were a Godsend.

Burger stools were just iconic

Okay, yes, they were a little bit slippery and if you fidgeted too much you might slip right off, but that was good for an antsy kid like me! It forced me to sit still and eat my McNuggets!

McDonaldland Cookies were the actual best

I think the Grimace cookies just tasted better. I know that technically they are all the same, but when I was kid at least, the Grimace cookies tasted the best. Also, Birdie's were the worst, but only because they were kind of terrifying to look at.

McDonald's Halloween buckets were essential

Okay, I'll admit it, I never had one of these. Instead I used a pillow case to get the most candy I could, but I always thought the people who did have these were so cool. Although they had to have been carrying around a backup bag right? Because who is done when they fill that small little bucket?

And of course, McDonald's Pizza

The only thing that could steal my attention from a McNugget was a McDonald's Pizza. Gone too soon from our lives, and honestly, we need it now more than ever.

Which McDonald's memory brings you back to your childhood?

H/T - Eighties Kids / Sarcasm Society / Diply