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Monday, 22 March 2010

McDonald's withdraws blasphemous Happy Meal

Hamburgers and religion have proven to be a less-than-tasty combination here in France recently although they've certainly been making the news.

After the French fast food chain Quick sparked a row which took on political dimensions following its decision in November last year to take non-halal products and pork off the menu in eight of its 350 branches, McDonald's has found itself the target of criticism.

And at the centre of the controversy has been its Happy Meal for children, which has upset a Catholic priest in the southwestern département of Tarn, led him to call for a local boycott of the fast food giant and brought about a swift reaction and an apology from McDonald's itself.

It's not actually the food as such that has upset Xavier Cormary, the priest in the town of Saint-Suplice, although there are certainly those who would question its nutritional value and place within this country's cuisine. But that's quite another issue.

Instead it was the booklet that accompanied each meal and which contained a number of games and puzzles, one of which he and some of his parishioners found "bordering on the blasphemous".

The game in question shows a design, taken from the popular cartoon series and books for children, Kid Paddle, in which readers have to try to break a code to discover what a bishop is saying as he addresses a couple about to be married.

Harmless enough in the simple description perhaps, except the bishop, who along with the couple is drawn in the form of a misshapen potato, is holding a crucifix depicting Jesus as a frog, and his words, once the code is deciphered read, ""Do you accept to take Suzanne, here present, for dinner?"

Father Comary was incensed when he was made aware of the puzzle at the end of February and, being more than a little Internet-savvy, wrote exactly what he thought about it on his blog.

"Once again, the Christian faith is ridiculed," he wrote. "Marriage is violated, the bishop is mocked, and the crucifix is represented in a form that is offensive to beliefs that are at the heart of our Christian faith."

The 37-year-old didn't stop there though.

He called on parishioners to boycott branches of the fast food chain in the nearby towns of Gaillac and Lavaur, wrote directly to McDonald's France management and the publishers of the game and the original comic books.

And all to good effect it would appear, because according the local newspaper, La Dépêche, not only has he received an apology, but the booklet containing the game that had "caused offence" has been withdrawn.

Nathalie Febvre from McDonald's France customer services reportedly sent an email to the priest earlier this month in which she stressed there had been "no wish in any way to offend the sensibilities of its customers," and that "McDonald's would no longer be distributing Kid Paddle at its restaurants."

1 comment:

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