The year 2010 began as any other. My blogs were about family nutrition and health. In January, I wrote Waste Less…Save More and Babies Need Whole Foods, Too. Turning my focus to labeling in February I posted Ludicrous Labeling and 5 Label Traps.
Things Got Real Interesting
The beginning of March, I was looking around my office for an idea for a blog topic, I saw the Happy Meal I purchased in 2009 sitting on the shelf behind my chair.
The Happy Meal went with me to Mom’s groups and I passed it around for “show-n-tell.” I also used it as a starting point for Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog. My last posting in Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog was December 14, 2009.
Pulling it down from the shelf, I saw that I’d written the date I purchased the Happy Meal, March 3, 2009, on the outside of the box. It was a year old.
Grace can’t believe that the Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal blog actually went viral.
“Why not?” I took the Happy Meal into the kitchen and snapped another photo. Copying the year-old photo from Nonna’s Happy Meal Blog I posted the new photo next to it.
Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal
Then I quickly wrote a satirical blog, Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal. I began, “Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You. Happy Birthday, Dear Happy Meal, Happy Birthday to You! I know it’s hard to believe. Time flies, doesn’t it? My eyes tear when I think today, March 3, is my Happy Meal’s first birthday. They grow up so fast, don’t they?”(Click Here to Read the entire Happy Birthday Blog.)
I promptly forgot all about it. I overstated a few things to make a point. But then, I thought the parents. who regularly read my blogs, would appreciate my lighthearted look at fast food.
The one line, I came to regret was “Flies ignore a Happy Meal and microbes don’t decompose it, then your child’s body can’t properly metabolize it either.” Some people thought I was an idiot. Okay, what I meant to say was that trans fat has a half-life of 51 days. Children (and adults for that matter) are dealing with trans fat after eating fast food for almost two months. Your body never utilizes (not metabolizes) trans fat. Oh well, nobody’s perfect…right?
A few days later, I got quite a bump on my site. Three thousand visits in one day. WOW! The traffic began to slow a little and I figured that was the end of it.
I was WRONG. And some people were really ticked off. Imagine, the nerve, that someone would promote JUNK SCIENCE. The Happy Meal experiment was unscientific and biased. Doesn’t she know anything about dehydration?
Oh, but I NEVER called it an experiment. In the second paragraph I thought I was clear about my intent, “I purchased a Happy Meal, not to eat, but to observe and blog about.” Notice the word “observe.” Nevertheless, some people were incensed. (Then, there were those who got the drift of my blog and enjoyed it.)
Cough, Cough, COUGH…Happy Birthday Goes VIRAL
Within a week, I had remarkable increase in traffic. So much traffic that my site crashed. Turns out some really big sites (The Consumerist and BoingBoing) had seen my Happy Birthday blog and linked to it. We got Baby Bites up again only to have it crash within minutes. I was on a shared site and they ended up closing me down, because Happy Birthday was sucking all the life from the server. We had to find another server and in a day we were up again.
Since posting Happy Birthday, there have been 170,000 visits to that blog alone. At the height, in one day there were 15,000 visits. I have no idea how many people tried to get to my site and were unable to access it.
I wrote Freaky Fried Food and Land of Denial in an attempt to reconcile some of the misunderstandings in Happy Birthday. Then I posted Urban Legend to document McDonalds’ response to the Happy Birthday blog. Happy Birthday is still attracting about 200 visits a day. Once in a while, I’ll get a bump. Yesterday, there were nearly 500 visits.
Would I change some of the things I said in Happy Birthday? In a perfect world, I would. BUT, if I had been more accurate, perhaps Happy Birthday would not have had the appeal it did. Turns out, that my off-the-wall remarks are what helped to germinate the Happy Birthday to My Happy Meal virus.
This Year, May Your Holidays Be Happy And Healthy.