McDonald's unveils new mascot called 'Happy'

OAK BROOK, IL - There's a new face in the cast of McDonald's characters, but it's receiving mixed reviews on social media.

"Happy" is an animated character that was announced on the restaurant's Facebook and Twitter pages.  The company posted a press release that claims the character "brings fun and excitement to kids’ meals while also serving as an ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating." 

McDonald's claims the character will encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy items and drinks like water or juice. 

Starting July 4, the company will offer Go-GURT yogurt as a side option in kids' meals, in addition to the current option of apple slices.  The yogurt will have 50 calories, according to the company.

"Happy" has been introduced in Europe and Latin America for years, but this will be the first time U.S. customers see the character.

Social media has seen a significant response over the red, smiling character.  One Twitter user called it a "McStake."  Others used the words "terrifying" "scary" and "creepy."  Some users called the animated video on McDonald's Facebook page "awesome."

The company says it is using "Happy" to promote healthier choices and balanced lifestyles. 

The company announced online, "Beginning later this year, McDonald’s USA will also only promote milk, juice or water as a beverage choice with Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals on menu boards and in-restaurant and external advertising and communications."

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