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McDonald's Makes Happy Meals Healthier By Adding Diluted Juice

In the past, McDonald's has attempted to make its Happy Meal healthier through various methods. They've cut down the French fry portions, added sliced apples, and even took soda out of their advertising. Now, McDonald's is switching to a more diluted juice product to lower added sugar in their apple juice.

Photo: Target.

The new drink, from Honest Kids, will replace the Minute Maid juice boxes currently in Happy Meals, according to the Wall Street Journal. Comparatively, while Honest Kids is an organic juice and Minute Maid is not, both juices are made from apple juice concentrate. However, while Minute Maid's boxes are 100% juice, Honest Kids only checks in at 42% juice.

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Federal regulations require the labeled percentage of juice to be calculated based on the amount of water used to dilute the juice concentrate. Thus, Honest Kids' more diluted concentrate, leads to a less sugary but more healthy product. The Honest Kids juice only has nine grams of sugar per pouch compared to Minute Maid's 21 grams, nearly a 60 percent reduction. It also contains natural flavors and organic natural flavors, ingredients not found in Minute Maid that likely boost the juice's apple flavor. Overall, that means that Honest Kids is giving you a more healthy and equally flavorful juice product, something any parent can get behind.

Minute Maid and Honest Kids are both brands owned by Coca-Cola, making a switch from one product to another relatively easier for McDonald's. Coca-Cola declined to comment on the financial impact of the change. However, it is known that Honest Kids is quickly taking over as the new fast food juice. While Minute Maid's sales have plummeted 18% between 2012 and 2016, Honest Kids has been added to menus at Wendy's, Chick-fil-A, and Subway. These deals, plus the McDonald's substitution, will contribute to an estimated $600 million in revenue next year for Honest Tea, the parent brand of Honest Kids.

Of course, there is still plenty more that can be done to make Happy Meals healthier, like adding in more fresh fruits or vegetable options. Still, utilizing this diluted juice is a great way for McDonald's to get more sugar out of children's diets.