Everyone knows you can torture your kids by substituting apple slices for fries in a Happy Meal, but what about the important part of the kid's meal: the toy?

Burgerville is an unusual burger chain found only in Oregon and Southwest Washington. They use sustainably raised beef and Northwest fruit. The fish and chips is made with fresh Alaskan halibut. You can put Rogue Creamery's awesome Smokey Blue cheese on your burger or salad.

Recently, my daughter, Iris, got the kid's meal at Burgerville (plain burger and fries), and the toy was a plastic cup, a small trowel, and a packet of zinnia seeds. Iris loved planting the zinnias on our balcony. The other seeds in the series are sunflowers, forget-me-nots, and baby snapdragons. Collect all four! Dirt not included. (The regional chain has since moved on to a bird-watching toy series now that growing season has come to an end.)

Meanwhile, as I learned from the blog Mombrarian, Wendy's is including audiobooks such as Arthur and Junie B. Jones in its kid's meal.

Of course, some parents consider Junie B. Jones the literary equivalent of trans fats.

Wendy's also offers an audiobook about a mouse named Geronimo Stilton, but the cheese pictured on the package looks more like Emmentaler than Stilton. If you get this CD at Wendy's, promise me you'll explain to your kids that Stilton has mold in it, not holes. Thanks.

About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.

Photograph from iStockphoto.com


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