In December of 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered in movie theaters. The 40 million dollar+ film was heavily merchandised through toy companies such as Mego but also — surprisingly — via McDonalds.
In particular, the fast food restaurant introduced a Star Trek-themed Happy Meal with delightful art from illustrator Ron Villani, and featuring a number of games on the box for diners and pre-pubescent Trekkies to enjoy.
For instance, you could play “connect the dots” on one panel of the box, completing an image of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the “viewer screen.”
Or, on another panel you could solve a maze, helping to “guide the Enterprise through a meteor shower.”
The Star Trek Happy Meals also featured factoids about the Trek universe, and such aspects as the Klingons or the Federation. Amusingly, the Federation was described as overseeing “the universe” and keeping peace there.
That’s a big job!
Some panels on the McDonalds Star Trek Happy Meals also recreated in comic-book format scenes from the movie, for example the destruction of the Klingons by the space ‘cloud,’ or a report by Starfleet outpost Epsilon 9 that the intruder was on a direct course for Earth.
The boxes also featured Klingon Code to break, and some bad jokes.
What do you call a sick Klingon?
An ailing alien!
Finally, The happy meals also came with a toy in each box: a small plastic, silver communicator
I was nine years old at the time of these Happy Meals and I remember begging my parents for them. I’m pretty sure my sister and I got at least one each, but we threw away the boxes (d’oh!). So short-sighted of us!
My favorite part of the whole campaign, however, was the TV commercials, in which a bumpy-headed Klingon served as pitchman.
You can watch those advertisements below, in celebration, perhaps, of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year: