Happy Meal the Motion Picture

Let me tell you why Star Trek and McDonalds are inseparably linked in my mind.

Trek Happy MealIt was December 1979, my father was going to take my brother and I to see a movie. We had never heard about Star Trek until he told us about the movie, but when we saw commercials on TV we saw that it had space ships and aliens and we were all for it!.  On the way we stopped for lunch at McDonalds, our favorite place of course. Where else would an eight year old want to go? When we got there we saw this thing called a “Star Trek Meal.” It was apparently a new movie themed version of the Happy Meal, which until now, we hadn’t ever had before.

The Happy Meal was first sold  earlier in 1979, and until Star Trek The Motion Picture came along, there hadn’t been a movie themed Happy Meal. From what I’ve read, the toys that had come with them before were pretty boring. Well it seems that the Paramount Pictures marketing team learned a few new tricks in 1979, and with the cooperation of our friends at McDonalds, children everywhere benefited, at the expense of their parents money and sanity.

So lets review a bit. Until this weekend in December 1979, I had never had a Happy Meal, or seen any episode or movie relating to Star Trek.

Trek Happy Meal 3My brother and I got our Happy Meals and we were as happy as carbon units could be. We had hamburgers, french fries, comics and a little thing they said was a communicator, whatever that was, but it scrolled through a comic strip, and that was neat. When we were done consuming our food, we took our trays to the waste receptacles (we later found out that when you throw trash away, it just gets recycled back into the food replicator). And then we were off to the Showcase Cinemas in Milan, Illinois (a great theater that is unfortunately no longer in existence).

Trek Happy Meal 2My memory regarding the wait in line to get tickets and the begging for popcorn (even though we had just had the most AWESOME meal ever) is kinda foggy, so we won’t waste time with that. However, I have very clear recollections of watching the movie itself. I was fascinated by the Klingons in the opening scene, what with their ridged heads, even though I had never heard of Klingons without them. It was the long and unnecessary Enterprise flyby that hooked me though. I’m sure it was that scene that eventually led to me having seen every single episode of every single Star Trek TV series, and having seen every single Star Trek movie. When it came to the rest of the movie though, the transporter accident scene nearly made me lose my Star Trek Happy Meal. Even though they never showed what happened to the two unlucky crew members, it was enough to put an image in my eight year old brain that nearly made me sick. But I did hold on, through the long arduous middle of the movie, until finally being fascinated by V-GER and the tie in to recent human history.

Yes I would likely have been just as fascinated with Star Trek without that tasty McDonald’s happy meal, but in my mind, the two can just never be separated. And now that I think about it, when the next Star Trek movie comes out, I may just have to organize a trip to McDonalds before we go see it. Hopefully they’ll have a Star Trek themed Happy Meal.

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