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Modern Day Golden Ticket from The Golden Arches

Friday, June 15, 2012

I feel like our family is experiencing the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in real life this month.  We’ve got a Golden Ticket! We recently found out my daughter, Elayna, is a Grand Prize winner of the McDonald’s Happy Meal Chef contest.
McD Winner Instagram
Earlier this year, McDonald’s was looking for 10 kids, ages 8-11, to enter their Happy Meal Chefs contest. Families were asked to create a short video showing how they make mealtime fun and nutritious and incorporate the USDA’s new MyPlate food guide. 


{The Prize / Golden Ticket}
They selected 10 finalists who all get to go to London for part of the Olympics in July. They will participate in McDonald’s Champions of Play program where they get to play with some of the athletes and attend some Olympic events.  Each winner will get to take one parent with them to experience “The Golden Arches” at the Olympics (Go for the Gold) this summer. Then McDonald’s selected two of those finalists to be Grand Prize winners to go to London early to cook in a Global Champions of Food Cooking Challenge along with McDonald’s executive Chef, Dan Coudreaut. They will also get to go to McDonald’s headquarters in Illinois this October to be an apprentice Happy Meal Chef and help develop new ideas for Happy Meals. I’m so excited my daughter was selected as a grand prize winner and is now an official McDonald’s Happy Meal Chef.
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{Healthier Happy Meals}
I’ve enjoyed seeing the changes McDonald’s recently made to the Happy Meal earlier this year.  They now offer apple slices in every Happy Meal and smaller/mini fries along with the option of fat free chocolate milk. They are looking for additional ways to make Happy Meals more nutritious and are planning to involve kids in the process.  I know the public often don't think of McDonald's being the most healthy restaurant, and they've never claimed to be that. They recognize the public wants to eat healthier and I'm impressed they are listening and working on offering more healthy options. I've really loved their salad choices lately and I recently learned that their sales of oatmeal have surpassed sales of the Egg McMuffin for breakfast. I like seeing these positive changes and we are excited to be a part of the process through this experience.
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{Golden Ticket Winners}
We started noticing on Twitter that they were announcing some of the other winners throughout the country (search hashtag #happymealchefs).  My daughter was announced last week. It totally reminds me of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as you meet each child who found a golden ticket who will get to experience the chocolate factory together (although all of these kids look sweet so far and we thankfully haven’t run into Slugworth).  My daughter is excited to learn about the other winners she will be meeting in person. 
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{OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT}
McDonald’s created a surprise party to announce that my daughter won. It was the last day of school and we invited a few of her friends, family, teacher and principal. Two of our city council men, Charlie Luke and Soren Simonsen, came to congratulate her too, along with Ronald McDonald and some local media.  She was so shocked and overwhelmed to see the restaurant full of people she knew. She thought we were just getting an after school treat. As soon as she saw her dad she ran to give him a hug and wouldn’t let go for a good 30 seconds. As they announced she was a grand prize winner and would be going to London for the Olympics, she smiled but I don’t think she comprehended what was really happening.  We want to thank all our friends and family for coming to support Elayna and celebrate this exciting event with her! She said “This is the best day in my life ever, but that might change once I’m at the Olympics.”
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Once we were home and it finally sank in, she ran to our back yard and screamed for joy shouting, “I can’t believe we won! I can’t wait to see the Olympics and Big Ben!”  Here is an article in our local paper, The Salt Lake Tribune, with a few more details.
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I heard about this contest from my friend Kathy’s blog, the Danish Mama.  I’m so glad I saw her post about it. I thought, we have an 8-year-old daughter who loves to help cook and I assumed fewer people would enter a video contest so we may have a better shot at winning (although it is a national contest and we found out they had thousands of entries). I kept having these strong feelings that we really needed to make a video and enter the contest. I just knew we had to do it.


{Making the video}
So we made a short video and entered the contest. You can see it by clicking here (James and Elayna from Salt Lake.). I’ve never made a video before, except for the ones you make a slide show of still shots set to music. We quickly got online for a quick lesson on how to edit videos. We wrote a rough draft script then ad-libbed as we were filming.
Our family had so much fun working on this project together.  It took three days of filming, trying to film at night so the bright sun wouldn’t wash out our scene.  We had to do several re-takes and had many bloopers. This video shows a few.


{Daddy-o’s Diner Bloopers}


SEE THE WINNING VIDEO at McDonald’s.


{Secret Ingredient Game}
My husband does much of the cooking and baking at our house. His dad is an amazing cook and baker too which has created a love of cooking for their whole family. They often attend cooking classes together and every Sunday the extended family gathers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for homemade treats. Grandpa started adding secret ingredients to their meals as my husband grew up, so my husband has kept that tradition in our family. Our kids love adding secret ingredients to the meals and having the other half of the family guess what is in their food. It really helps kids think about what goes into their food. We shared this idea in the contest video.

Happy Meal Chef Saley Kitchen Diner-002

{Kitchen Diner Menu:}
Our kitchen is decorated like a diner so we also have a menu with pictures of food for the kids to order from. It has fruits, veggies, protein, grains and dairy for the kids to pick from. We’ve noticed the kids love having visual pictures to help them decide what they are hungry for.

Elayna Head Shots


{MyPlate Placemats}
We also made placemats to match the USDA’s new MyPlate food guide. We laminated them and our kids love to draw what we are having for each meal. This helps keep us, as parents, on our toes because they will notice if we are missing fruit or dairy and tell us we need to add those to our meal.

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You can find free printable samples at ChooseMyPlate.gov. I personalized ours by moving the words so you could draw in the spaces, then I added checkers at the bottom. We found some fun scrapbook paper for the front and back. Then we laminated them and the kids use dry-erase crayons to fill in the placemat while we make dinner.

Elayna Head Shots1
Our family is still in shock that we won an experience like this. It is very surreal at this point, like we are living part of the movie. I kind of feel like dancing around the room like Charlie and Grandpa Jo singing "I've got a Golden ticket!" I’m so excited my daughter and husband will get to have this opportunity from McDonald’s. I plan to go with them for part of the time but I am thrilled they will get to do this together. They are already creating recipe ideas for the Champions of Food Cooking Challenge in London.  We’ll share more about their experience throughout the summer here on obSEUSSed.
Victoria Signature 11

3 comments:

Whitney @ Pen Pals and Picture Books said...

That is so cool Victoria!! Do you all get to go? Will you get so see some events? Exciting!!

Anonymous said...

I am speechless with the talent and creativity instilled in your beautiful daughter, got to admit some what biased, but this family has some tremendous genes! I'm so proud of my nephew and great niece! And Victoria, I say watch out Speilberg, that was one great production .

Kim said...

I just found your blog from instagram! I have been reading about your trip to the Olympics. I also read the article about your daughter & I think your daughter's teacher was my mentor teacher when I did my student teaching! She is fabulous and I think about her all the time, even though I am not teaching right now. (need to get my Texas teaching license) just thought I would let you know....thanks for following me on instagram. I love to read also and will now follow your blog!

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