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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The McDonald's Happy Meal has become a childhood staple around the world, but few know the marketing idea began in Guatemala as "Ronald's menu."

What happened: Jose Maria Cofiño and Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño founded the first McDonald's in Guatemala in 1974. Fernández de Cofiño noticed that children were not able to finish the meals the restaurant offered, so she came up with the idea of offering smaller portions for kids and including a toy to make the meal more fun.

What she's saying: "I noticed how mothers would arrive with their children who did not know what to order, so they'd get a Big Mac but were unable to eat it entirely because the meal was too large" Fernández de Cofiño said in a video.

  • "I started thinking about what could be done so that people could stop wasting their money in that way. I came up with the idea of creating a children's menu with a smaller burger, smaller fries, a small soda and a small sundae," she added. Fernández de Cofiño named the offering "Ronald's menu," after Ronald McDonald, the company's clown mascot.
  • Fernández de Cofiño also included toys in the "Cajita Feliz" that she would buy at a local market.

The intrigue: Cofiño did not ask for permission from McDonald's main executives to create the menu, but it drew positive feedback, which motivated her to introduce the menu during the 1977 World Franchisee Convention.

  • McDonald's corporate officials adopted Cofiño's idea and began to implement it worldwide in 1979, calling it the "Happy Meal."
  • The company awarded Fernández de Cofiño with a "Ronald award" in 1982, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the company.

Don't forget: Fernández de Cofiño passed away in September at the age of 87.

  • McDonald's released a statement, saying her death was "without a doubt, one of the most difficult and sad moments for the family, the company and its thousands of collaborators in Guatemala ... Her light will live in our hearts forever."
  • Fernández de Cofiño is also responsible for hosting birthday celebrations in the restaurant: She came up with the idea of having specific party areas to host large groups of children at once, for which she was recognized with a second "Ronald award."

Go deeper for Hispanic Heritage Month:

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Go deeper

Updated Oct 14, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on equal opportunity in education

On October 14th, Axios race and justice reporter Russ Contreras discussed how education systems are preparing their students for equal opportunity and sustained success in life after school, featuring Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) and California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro.

Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández demonstrated how the federal government can aid states in addressing education inequalities, the difficulties of recruiting teachers in rural areas, and her focus on alleviating poverty to give children better educational opportunities.

  • On the importance of hiring teachers who can relate to students on a community and cultural level: “We need to make sure that we are training teachers that come from the community that reflect the children that they are teaching, because then that’s where the aspiration starts.”
  • On improving infrastructure to support greater broadband access: “Creating that infrastructure in those communities so there’s good broadband, so they can stay connected to the world, so they can assign subjects and projects that require that students plug into the internet and gather information. That’s the broadband work that we need to do.”

Joseph I. Castro discussed how a counselor at a college fair opened up his eyes to educational opportunity, how student services play a central role in education equity, and how public universities are working to eliminate inequities for students.

  • On investing in student services: “I believe that we need to invest in our students. They are the next generation of leaders. In order for us to support them, we of course need to have extraordinary faculty members in the classroom...and we need to make sure that they have food and housing, access to technology, all the tools necessary to be successful.”
  • On California State University’s plans for an Equity Innovation Hub: “It will be a place where Hispanic serving institutions, like 21 of our Cal State campuses, as well as hundreds across the country, will be able to work together to serve students from Latino and other backgrounds and help prepare them for STEM fields.”

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Bank of America president of Business Banking Raul Anaya and Eduardo Díaz, Smithsonian Latino Center director and interim director of the National Museum of the American Latino. They discussed how race and racism have shaped the history of the U.S., and how these effects are still being felt in the Latino community.

  • Eduardo Díaz on the influence behind Smithsonian’s recent program “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past”: “With the murder of George Floyd, it was cathartic, it brought to bear a lot of underlying historical aspects of the way race and racism has shaped this country’s history and culture, and I think it was a pivotal moment when the Smithsonian needed to do something and step forward to address it…”

White House unveils landmark reports on climate links to security, migration

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday released a sweeping set of assessments on how to view threats that climate change poses to national security and its role in fueling migration.

Why it matters: One of the key products, a formal National Intelligence Estimate on climate change, marks the first time all 18 elements of the U.S. intelligence community have released a consensus report on the topic.

Scoop: Garland defends DOJ's handling of Jan. 6 probe

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors "are doing exactly what they are expected to do" in seeking accountability for the "intolerable assault" on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Allies of former President Trump, including Republican congressmen, have criticized the department's treatment rioters charged with crimes, and sought to recast the insurrection as a righteous protest. Garland's testimony with be his first appearance before the panel.