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Official Article

Literary Classics at Taco Bell

By: MissM

Very recently McDonald's created some news with their Happy Meals featuring story books instead of their usual toys. For some this was like the first time there had ever been a book in a Happy Meal, but it reminded me of a time long ago when it was pretty common that books would make an appearance in a Kids Meal.


Over this past summer my brother and I went through a major overhaul of our parent’s garage. We do it every summer, but this last summer was special because we removed everything. As a result we found stuff that I had completely forgotten about, but was certainly thrilled to come across.


In the 80’s Taco Bell released a limited series of Fairy Tale Golden Junior Classics that featured the main story and a mini Fairy Tale at the end. The one I found from the attic was this release of Jack and the Beanstalk. I have always enjoyed fairy tales and this version of Jack and the Beanstalk was my very first introduction to the magic beans and everything.


On the inside cover, I apparently felt the need to place stickers on the inside. I did that a lot as a kid. Stickers were everything to me and I had no shame in placing them on just about anything.


The art work and font for the title has a nice look to it. I remember the images so much in this book and decided to share some of my favorite images!


Jack’s twisted house and sad looking cow was such a striking image for me. Everything looked fantastical and I just enjoy checking out the illustrations.


The magic beans on this page reminded me of Chiclets bubble gum pieces.


I so love looking at this sprawling image, because the colors are lush. The beanstalk feels real like at any moment it will grow off the page. I just love it.


Another page that I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid (and still do) is this one. The cook has all this movement in this image. Her face looks completely fearful and with the coloring there is just something unsettling about this image. Where did she come from? How does such a small woman cook with such a huge oven? These were the things I was concerned about with this image as well as a craving for bread. What is it about bread that makes everything better?


This next image always grossed me out as a kid. That ham looks disgusting. It’s dripping ham juice on the table and the giant looks like he’ll eat the ham and the cook at any moment. I like ham, don’t get me wrong, but this picture always felt gross to me.


I always wondered what it would be like to have a giant chasing me. There was so much about this story that had my little kid brain perplexed. How could a giant live in the clouds? How could he have a castle in the clouds? More importantly, what would it be like to literally climb a beanstalk to the sky? This story always had me thinking over the top on things.


One last final image from this story that always spoke to me was this final one of the giant falling down. Jack is chopping the beanstalk down while his mom looks on in horror. I felt sorry for the giant. I really did. Who wants to fall to their death from a beanstalk?


At the end of the Jack and the Beanstalk story, there was also an extra little mini fairy tale. The Princess and the Pea was another story that I had never read until this book, and I always felt like it was an interesting story.


I love this illustration so much. It looks so stunning and full of such grace. So the basic plot of the story is that a Prince is looking for love with a real Princess. Not some random princess, but a Princess. So this Princess shows up at the door and is like, “I’m a real princess.” And the Prince’s parents pull a trick on her to see if she is the real deal! That is so shady!


The trick involved placing a pea under twenty mattresses, and if the pea bothered the princess’s sleep, than she was the real deal. First off, I remember reading this and thinking, “If they were really meant to love each other, why did his parents have to test her like that?” Secondly, I was always terrified of sleeping in a bed with a pea in it for I thought I would be bruised and banged up from an uncomfortable night’s sleep. That is crazy.


The final picture was nothing but love and happiness. The real princess found her prince. At what price though? I feel like the queen and king made a fool out of her. This is why I was always iffy on this story. She proves she is a real princess by complaining that the bed wasn’t comfortable. If that’s all it takes to prove real royalty, than I know a ton of real princesses. I do love the artwork though.


Flipped over, this Taco Bell Golden Classic book shows off the retro Taco Bell logo. (I love this logo, even though I don’t really dine at Taco Bell much anymore.) There was also a list of the other books to collect. I have never read the other books in this series, but I do like this book. Although it is odd that there were only three books made, I feel like four would have been a nicer number.


So there you have it, a classic Kids Meal story. They have popped up every now and then. Does anyone have the other books in this series or even recall them? What about sleeping with a pea in the bed? Does that ever disrupt your sleep? I want to know! Take care everyone!     

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Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 09, 2013 at 05:26 AM

I know Chick-Fil-A did a Berenstain Bears book promotion in their kids meals not long ago. They were essentially shrunken versions of actual BB books on the market. Very neat.

I think instead of toys with meals, Taco Bell should include some Zantac and a portable potty.

MissM Posted on Dec 07, 2013 at 08:05 PM

pikachulover- I totally forgot about the Berenstein Bears books! That is right though, McDonalds had a few Berenstein Bear themed Happy Meals. I remember there was a very big variety of Happy Meal toys back then. They'd make books, items to promote healthy eating and exercise habits, and the usual toys.

Benjanime- yeah, I do feel like kids these days are only getting more and more tech savvy that things like a book will not work compared to other gadgets.

Vaporman- I totally remember that Godzilla commercial! That darn dog. I do remember that. And I don't think Taco Bell offers toys anymore with kids meals. But I might be wrong.

And I know, it is very sad when McDonalds gets a ton of news over placing books in a Happy Meal. Back in the day this was just a common thing. It's crazy. I feel like Happy Meal toys will probably phase out from most stores. As newer generations come up, I don't know that they are going to care about toys, not to mention I see parents buy their children actual value meals when they should be getting them the Happy Meal. It's crazy and sad.

pikachulover Posted on Dec 06, 2013 at 06:21 AM

A lot of places have phased out children's meal toys due to the obesity epidemic. McDonald's did give out books back in the 90s I remember getting some Berenstain Bears books there. I think Taco Bell gave out some other books. I think Little Critter books.

Benjanime Posted on Dec 05, 2013 at 10:41 PM

something tells me that this was their own way of having kids focus more in school with english than to give out the usual toys. nowadays this probably wouldn't be likely to work much due to kids playing games on tablets and playing with other gadgets. great history here overall!

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 05, 2013 at 04:04 AM

Doesn't it seem sad to think that a franchise like McDonald's offering books in their Happy Meals is "newsworthy"?

I'm mean, what do we expect anymore? What WILL we expect in the future? Will Happy Meals have to come with iPhone cases or some other "tech" crap?

Now, for Taco Bell to offer ANY toy or prize seems peculiar, simply because you see so little of that from them these days. The last thing I remember getting there was a Godzilla (American '98 version) cup holder for your car (remember the "Here lizard, lizard, lizard." ads with the dog?).

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