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Guatemalan woman credited for inventing the McDonald’s Happy Meal dies at 87

Guatemalan woman credited with inventing the McDonald’s Happy Meal dies at 87

  • Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, known for her kid-friendly contributions to McDonald’s including the ‘Happy Meal’ died on September 6 at the age of 87
  • She and her husband José María Cofiño purchased the first McDonald’s in Guatemala in 1974, and they passed the business on to their children in 2018
  • Soon after opening the restaurant, Cofiño came up with the concept for a kids meals dubbed the ‘Ronald Menu’, that contained smaller portions for children 
  • McDonald executives in Chicago loved the idea so much they adapted the concept in the states, leading to the birth of ‘The Happy Meal’ in 1979
  • Cofiño also came up with the concept of holding children’s parties at the restaurant


The Guatemalan woman credited with inventing McDonald’s iconic children’s Happy Meal has died at the age of 87. 

Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, known for her kid friendly contributions to McDonalds that are now considered essential part of the restaurant’s brand, died on September 6 at the age of 87.  

Affectionally known as Doña Yoly, Cofiño was originally born in Chile in 1934 before she moved to Guatemala as a teenager when her father was appointed as an ambassador, Newsweek.com reported. 

Cofiño and her husband José María Cofiño purchased the first McDonald’s in Guatemala in 1974 and ran it for four decades until passing the business on to their children in 2018. 

Shortly after purchasing the McDonald’s she observed that menu item portions were too big for young children and came up with the concept for a kids meals, which she dubbed the ‘Ronald Menu’ after the restaurant’s mascot Ronald McDonald. 

Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, (pictured left) known for her kid-friendly contributions to McDonalds, including the ‘Happy Meal’ died on September 6 at the age of 87

Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, known for her kid friendly contributions to McDonalds that are now considered essential part of the restaurant's brand, died on September 6 at the age of 87

Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, known for her kid friendly contributions to McDonalds that are now considered essential part of the restaurant’s brand, died on September 6 at the age of 87

For her contributions Cofiño (pictured left) was presented the 'Ronald Award' by the company in 1982

For her contributions Cofiño (pictured left) was presented the ‘Ronald Award’ by the company in 1982

The ‘Ronald Menu’ included a hamburger, small fries and a sundae to feed kids with more appropriate portions. 

McDonald executives in Chicago loved the idea so much they reached out to marketer Bob Bernstein to develop the concept to be adapted in the United States.

It lead to the birth of ‘The Happy Meal’ in 1979.

The kids meal expanded on Cofiño’s invention and contained more food options, came in a colorful box and most importantly for kids, contained a toy. 

For her contributions she was presented the ‘Ronald Award’ by the company in 1982.

But her ideas did not end there.

Cofiño also won a ‘Ronald Award’ years earlier for coming up with the concept of holding children’s parties at the restaurant, which has since become a go-to spot to celebrate for families. 

Cofiño came up with the concept for a kids meals dubbed 'Ronald Menu' that contained smaller portions for children

Cofiño came up with the concept for a kids meals dubbed ‘Ronald Menu’ that contained smaller portions for children

Cofiño and her husband José María Cofiño purchased the first McDonald's in Guatemala in 1974 until they passed the business on to their children in 2018 (pictured with her daughter Mónica Cofiño)

Cofiño and her husband José María Cofiño purchased the first McDonald’s in Guatemala in 1974 until they passed the business on to their children in 2018 (pictured with her daughter Mónica Cofiño)

McDonald's Guatemala honored Cofiño with a post on Tuesday expressing their condolences for their matriarchs passing

McDonald’s Guatemala honored Cofiño with a post on Tuesday expressing their condolences for their matriarchs passing

Cofiño would go on to earn the restaurant’s highest honor when she received the ‘Golden Arches’ award, along with other national and international awards throughout her decades with the restaurant. 

 McDonald’s Guatemala honored Cofiño with a post on Tuesday expressing their condolences for their matriarchs passing. 

‘McDonald’s Guatemala profoundly mourns the passing of our founder and president Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño,’ they posted in Spanish. 

‘Our sincerest condolences to her children, grandchildren, great-grand children and other family members.

‘This is without a doubt one of the saddest moments for her family, the business and her thousands of collaborators.’ 

‘Thanks to a great woman, because her light will live forever in our hearts.’

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