McDonald’s Happy Meal Inventor Dies

( You may never have heard of Yolanda Fernandez de Cofino, but you have definitely heard of her “Happy Meal.”

She is a Chilean-born businesswoman from Guatemala who managed McDonalds in her country from 1974, and is recognized as the inventor of the Happy Meal, a children’s menu that was accompanied with a toy.

Sadly, last Monday, she died at the age of 87.

Known not just for her business acumen, de Cofino was also known for her charitable works. She established Guatemala’s Ronald McDonald Foundation which helps children who suffer severe malnutrition and life-threatening illnesses.

She also hosted the first McHappy Day in Guatemala in 1999, when the profits from all sales of Big Macs were given to the foundation. Today, there are three Ronald McDonald Houses in Guatemala located close to major public hospitals providing residence to disadvantaged children receiving life-saving medical treatment.

De Cofino was born in Chile in 1934 and moved to Guatemala with her family after her father was appointed as the ambassador. She invented the Happy Meal after starting her McDonald’s franchise after noticing that the meal sizes were too large for children. Her idea was also to ensure that there was a cheaper meal available to help parents feed their children.

McDonald’s Guatemala announced the sad news, describing their deep regrets for the ‘sensitive death of its president, Mrs. Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño.”

The statement added that the news is without a doubt “one of the most difficult and sad moments for the family, the company and its thousands of collaborators in Guatemala.”

The world just lost a true philanthropist who used the power of capitalism to change the lives of thousands of people.