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There is a clear reason why the insanely unhealthy--and inhumane--food of McDonald's continues to draw long lines at the drive-thru and entire sports teams on the bus ride home from a game: MARKETING.

The McDonald's brand is synonymous with comfort, consistency, and even family.

Nowhere is that core essence reflected better than in the "Happy Meal."



Introduced in the mid-70s, the "Happy Meal" was conceived as a way to drive business in one of the most effective ways imaginable, by making kids love McDonald's so much that they scream at their parents about it from the back seat of a car.

A complete fast food meal with a little toy thrown in, all served in a fun cardboard box that looks like a little smiling face, the "Happy Meal" has stood the test of time, albeit with some healthier changes in the recent years.

But a recent Reddit thread ran a thought experiment. They imagined a 180: a "Sad Meal." People from far and wide offered interpretations of the very opposite of fun, family, and delicious.

lukeamotion asked, "If McDonald's sold a 'Sad Meal,' what would be in it?"

Some people offered up ideas that still had a foot in the McDonald's universe.

They imagined what shocking preparation faux pas might be at hand, or they modified existing meal choices to be only composed of their very worst elements.

Bad Toys and Worse Food 

"Cold fries, an apple pie that's been under the heat lamp so long the filling has dried out, and a warm flat coke. The toy is a used game pass code." -- score_

"Same stuff just the stuff that's been sitting a couple hours under a hot lamp, with a broken Jar Jar Binks toy." -- adanipse

"Nuggets are burnt, fries are cold, unsalted, and the bag is only half-filled. Soda has too much ice and the toy is just a note that says :(" -- Avicii_DrWho

All About the Buns 

"Two buns that hold nothing but a fat slop of mayo" -- turquoisepurplepink

"Just the weird middle bun from a Big Mac" -- octupleunderscore

"and the juice from a mc rib lol"

"I'll take one to go. But idk if I want it stale or still frozen, or maybe just untoasted. and a moldy frape for the drink" -- Idabro

Repulsive Imagery

"A large container crammed with french fries and chicken nuggets that are lathered in ketchup."

"It doesn't come with any utensils - you'll have to place the container on the floor, get on your knees and eat it like a dog."

-- reachthepromiseland

Other entries left the boundaries of the McDonald's food world. They imagined other foods that kids--and even plenty of adults--would hate to receive at a fast food joint.

Brace yourself for healthy boredom and truck stop favorites.

Quinoa Quips 

"A container of plain quinoa, and a cup of heavily chlorinated, room temperature water" -- D3vilUkn0w

"'Ever snorted up a big loogie that had some weird hard bits in it? Quinoa is pretty close' -original quinoa marketing campaign" -- loptopandbingo

The Anti-Health Movement 

"That's just called salad" -- I_N_C_O_M_I_N_G

"Healthy food. Makes me gag just thinking about it" -- JeffCalledMeSushi

"Liver and onions with prunes for the fruit option." -- greg_reddit

All Enjoyed While Cruising Down the Highway 

"A cup of water served at room temperature, fruit slices, onion nuggets, and a mislabeled sauce packet." -- ReadingReddit66

"Natty Ice and a slim jim" -- tmcg6

And then there were the entries that took a broader approach.

These Redditors put the "Sad" in "Sad Meal." But for them, sadness relied on an extensive context surrounding the meal. They developed character sketches and relied on tropes of middle age apathy.

The Decisions That Led There 

"Exactly what's in a Happy Meal but you're 36, divorced, and ordered it by accident when you forgot that you don't have the kids this weekend." -- wanderweather

"Hey, what's wrong with someone in their 30s wanting a collectible kid's toy? ;)" -- Some_Random_Android

"I was gunna comment something but yours blows mine out of the water" -- I_Nocebo

Bombshell To Go 

"A 23andMe report showing your real dad never loved you." -- wheniwascake

"How does McDonald's know this?" -- strangehitman22

"The fact you're in McDonalds is proof enough." -- wheniwascake

A Litany of Options: It's a Cruel World 

"Crippling anxiety accompanied with back pain, with a side of hamburger flavour vodka" -- Screwloose1985

"Mirror" -- PMForDickGraysonPics

"Student Debt" -- jbro145

Earning Your Meal 

"The cashier would ask you what happened and caused you to buy it."

"And then gives you a note inside the sad meal box that roasts you about the problem that you told the cashier that caused you to buy it."

-- Arvindjor


We're happy to report that you don't have to worry about receiving anything quite like this the next time you swing by the McDonald's drive-thru.

Perhaps it might make you feel a touch more grateful to have that 1000 calorie beast in a bag.

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