Update: McDonald’s has released a statement addressing the Pokémon Happy Meals issues. We have included it at the end of our original post.
Overzealous Pokémon collectors are turning a McDonald‘s promotion into a nightmare for kids. Recently the fast food chain began celebrating 25 years of Pokémon with Happy Meals featuring Pikachu’s face. The limited-time boxes also come with special edition booster packs of Pokémon Trading Card Game cards.
Each pack includes four exclusive cards. In total there are 24 “first partner Pokémon from the many regions in the Pokémon world,” plus a Pikachu card. And there are both standard and foil versions of each one, totaling 50 different cards, all with the special Pokémon 25th logo.
If you know anything about the world of Pokémon collectibles, you already know where this is going. Fans of the franchise are, predictably, doing everything they can to nab these special cards. (A phenomenon we first learned about at Polygon.)
People are getting up bright and early to get in line at their local McDonald’s. Then they are buying as many Happy Meals as they can so they can collect all the cards. That’s if the cards even make it into a box at all. Some unopened cases have been popping up on the secondary market. Fans are, understandably, not happy.
@McDonalds please fix the pokemon anniversary card promo to stop people buying the entire stock in a single transaction!— LussCollects (@LussCollects) February 9, 2021
"Cannot be purchased separately" would help a lot!
All of this hoarding is preventing actual children from even being able to enjoy the promotion. And it’s also leading to a whole lot of food waste. All at a time when so many are struggling to stay fed.
Fortunately not all collectors are being so callous with their card chasing.
I decided to go to McDonald's to grab some of the new Pokemon Card packs! Since you couldn't buy the packs separately I bought 10 happy meals and I'll be giving out the food to homeless in the area 😁— JT Valor (@JT_Valor) February 9, 2021
If you only want the cards then do the same!#Pokemon #McDonalds pic.twitter.com/xPb7lNKQw0
Both McDonald’s and Pokémon should have seen this coming. Fans will go after anything and everything Pokémon related. That includes used popsicle sticks. And there’s no item that has the potential future value of a special, hard-to-find trading card. They can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
No wonder these meals aren’t making most people happy.
McDonald’s Official Statement:
“We love seeing fans’ passion for our limited-time Happy Meal promotion celebrating 25 years of Pokémon. With such significant demand for our promotional Pokémon TCG cards, and some fans even going to extreme lengths to get them, we’re working quickly to address shortages and also strongly encouraging restaurants to set a reasonable limit on Happy Meals sold per customer. We want to offer the full Happy Meal experience to as many families as possible, and help ensure everyone is able to get in on the fun!”
The company has also confirmed it will take specific steps to address the problems. That will include working with their supply chain to get additional cards to locations that are experiencing a shortage. And it will also provide backup toys to ensure all Happy Meals come with an item. The company also says their official policy is to not sell full cases of Happy Meal items to any customers. However, generally reasonable exceptions can be made for direct toy purchases. And McDonald’s also hopes customers will avoid food waste that comes with buying excessive Happy Meals.