My coauthor (and 16-year-old daughter) Antonia Ayres-Brown just published a piece in Slate about a project that started 5 years ago when we bleg’d Freakonomics readers to tell us about how McDonald’s refers to Happy Meal toys. Antonia was disturbed by the kinds of questions we encountered when we ordered Happy Meals at the drive-thru. We’d be asked things like “Is it for a boy or girl?” or “Do you want a girl’s toy or a boy’s toy?”
I asked readers whether they encountered similar questions. According to seventy nine reader responses, approximately one-fifth of the time McDonald’s employees did not ask a toy-related question. But when employees did ask a toy-related question:
47.7% Asked “Is It for a Boy or Girl?”
31.8% Asked “Do You Want A Boy’s Toy or a Girl’s Toy?”
15.9% Described the toys in non-gender terms.
I’ve waited this long to report the results because Antonia have I have been engaged in a long-term project to encourage McDonald’s to describe the toys without reference to children’s gender.