FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A push to offer healthier alternatives has McDonald's now making locally grown "Cuties" available with their Happy Meals. Those little mandarin oranges known as "Cuties" can be found in many kids lunches which they bring to school. But now the two popular brands have joined forces.
McDonald's commercials tout the sweet Cuties as a healthy option for their Happy Meals. The mandarins are grown and packed in the valley. Customers like Ronald Smith of Fresno approved the move. Ronald said, "I think it's a good idea because it gives them a better selection as far as health or something like that because normally they go for the Cuties but it's there."
We spoke with Sun Pacific president Bob DiPiazza via Skype. He first pitched the Cuties idea to McDonald's five years ago. DiPiazza said, "Honestly Dale I didn't know what to expect. Our business had almost exclusively been the supermarket industries and mass industry."
But two years ago McDonald's tested the Cuties Happy Meal in Austin, Texas and found people welcomed the idea of having fresh fruit with their kids meals. Bob explained, "As we say in the business consumers voted with their dollars so they bought more Happy Meals with Cuties in them."
Some customers felt fast food restaurants shouldn't stop there. Bouvier Smith of Fresno said, "I think it's really healthy but just to add apples because they have apples too and the Cuties just to add more. How about bananas, how about grapes because it's really nutritional for the kids."
DiPiazza was thrilled to see McDonald's air spots during his favorite TV programs to give his Cuties national exposure.
Fruit, of course, is seasonal. The Happy Meal Cuties option will be available at select McDonald's restaurants around the US through April.