McDonald’s has done it again: The chain has placed its deep-fried finger on the pulse of America with an adult version of a nostalgic fave, leading to a bum-rush of its drive-thru lanes. But its all not “happy,” according to workers at the fast-food behemoth, who say it’s all become a bit too much.
On Oct. 3, McDonald’s released a new, grown-up version of the Happy Meal called the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box. The Golden Arches reimagined the Happy Meal experience through a collaboration with fashion and lifestyle label Cactus Plant Flea Market, a favorite of hip-hop greats and high-wattage celebs like Rihanna.
The box became available inside restaurants, in the drive-thru, by delivery or via the McDonald’s app, with customers able to pick between a Big Mac meal or a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets meal complete with one of four toys.
After the fanfare of its release, chaos apparently has ensued due to the nostalgic pull of the meal on the heartstrings of the American public.
“I can see the stress among my coworkers,” said one anonymous McDonald’s employee to Kotaku. In the same report, employees said that the promotion has caused two to three times more orders for Big Mac meals and increased nugget orders, sending the whole ecosystem of a McDonald’s kitchen into disarray.
This seems to be backed up by other McDonald’s workers who have taken to social media channels to share just how enormous these orders have become. One such post on Reddit outlines a single online order where a customer ordered 10 separate adult Happy Meals and one order of six extra chicken nuggets for good measure.
Other employees have been posting on TikTok to show how busy their drive-thru has become or even to beg people to stop ordering the adult Happy Meals.
“Bro pls I don’t order those adult McDonald’s. Happy meals bro I’m begging,” pleaded user @pimplifewlizzyyy, who claims to be a McDonald’s worker.
The McMelee in McDonald’s stores around the country even has some less-than-nostalgic folks reselling the toys customers can get in the Happy Meals. McDonald’s mascots: Grimace, the Hamburglar or Birdie and Cactus Buddy! (yep, the exclamation point is in its name) have been found on eBay being resold for as much as $270 for a full set of all four, with more than 45 bids at the time of this writing.
Still, with workers and customers facing the onslaught of interest in the adult Happy Meal, things show no sign of slowing down.
“We had a feeling the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box would be big… and leading up to the launch, we prepped crew with training and resources in anticipation of higher traffic in restaurants," a McDonald's spokesperson said in a statement to TODAY Food. "After just a few days, the excitement we’re seeing from fans has been nothing short of incredible. Our restaurant crew members are the best in the business, and we appreciate everything they’re doing to serve customers during this limited-time promotion."
This is far from the first time (or likely, the last) that McDonald’s has caused a fast-food bum-rush: In 2021, a Pokemon card promotion caused a similar resale rush that forced McDonald’s to limit the amount of meals a single customer could buy.
Also, in 2017, irate “Rick and Morty” fans threw tantrums in stores when their beloved Szechuan Sauce (a limited-time promotion) sold out at the chain, leading to McDonald’s apologizing for the panic and pandemonium caused by what was a one-day offer.
Now, in 2022, for many workers who are facing long lines, sold out toys, ornery customers and more, they may just need to find solace in the fact that this is a limited-time offer that will be over soon.