As part of McDonald's "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices," an initiative they announced in July, the restaurant chain will launch a new Happy Meal menu in Chicago that defaults to healthier options.
Starting Friday, the pre-packaged kids meals will be served with fewer French fries, a helping of apple slices and fat-free chocolate or one percent white milk, Crain's Chicago Business reports. Diners can request more fries or soda.
Fruit has been offered as an alternative option at the chain for the past seven years, but NBC Chicago reports that only 11 percent of customers voluntarily make the switch.
"The new Happy Meal aims to address the challenges kids face in meeting the recommended daily consumption of produce," the Oakbrook-based company said in a statement, according to Crain's.
Specifically, the changes will reduce the current 2.4-ounce serving in a small order of French fries to 1.1 ounces and about 100 calories, and replace the 3.1-ounce Apple Dippers that came with caramel sauce with a 1.2-ounce serving of apple slices, Crain's reports.
The change will begin at Chicago franchises and expand to all 14,000 U.S. locations by next March, Crain's reports. New York, San Francisco and other California towns had previously proposed Happy Meal bans if the food didn't meet certain nutritional standards. The current changes don't meet all local requirements, but McDonald's plans to cut sodium by 15 percent across its menu by 2015.
Janney Montgomery Scott LLC led a survey of franchises Oct. 19 where two respondents predicted the new ingredients would drive sales up, nine said they would decrease sales and 16 didn't expect the change to make a difference, Crain's reports.
"Expect customers to try the apples and then revert to asking for all fries," one franchise owner said in the survey, according to Crain's.
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