When it comes to nostalgia, McDonald’s customers sure are lovin’ it.
The burger chain brought back its Halloween pails on Tuesday, which haven’t been offered in the U.S. since 2016. The plastic trick-or-treat buckets decorated to look like a ghost, a goblin or a jack-o’-lantern (aka McBoo, McGoblin and McPunk’n, respectively) quickly began trending among real-time Google searches on Tuesday.
But the appetite for these Halloween buckets is nothing compared to the recent McDonald’s MCD, +0.97% collaboration with streetwear company Cactus Plant Flea Market, which dished out a $12-$13 box (better known as the “adult Happy Meal”) that featured a food combo and a collectible figurine targeted toward the grownups who grew up on Happy Meals.
They sold out quickly, and now some enterprising fast food lovers are hawking the adult Happy Meal toys over online resale sites for thousands of dollars.
So what’s the appeal? Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. “Everyone remembers their first Happy Meal as a kid … and the can’t-sit-still feeling as you dug in to see what was inside,” McDonald’s wrote in a press release. “And now, we’re reimagining that experience in a whole new way — this time, for adults.”
The limited-edition Cactus Plant Flea Market Box at McDonald’s rolled out on Oct. 3, feeding the inner child of the average customer by offering a choice of a Big Mac or 10-piece chicken nuggets main dish, french fries and a soft drink, as well as one of four “toys” featuring redesigned McDonald’s mascots like the Grimace, the Hamburgler and Birdie, as well as a new “Cactus Buddy!” figure (yes, the exclamation point is part of his name.)
The Cactus Plant Flea Market boxes sold out in many places on the same day that they came out. Some McDonald’s employees took to Reddit and TikTok to share how much they were not lovin’ it — which was reminiscent of the hatred many Starbucks SBUX, -0.63% employees felt toward the viral unicorn frappuccino in 2017.
And now, both the toys and the boxes have become near impossible to come by — unless you’re willing to cough up a lot of cash. A medium Cactus Plant Flea Market Box costs about $12, with large box closer to $13 — and one New Jersey mom noted that in her area, a Big Mac combo with fries and a drink runs under $10, so she spent $3 basically get the collectible toy.
But one eBay listing offering three of the collectible Cactus Plant Flea Market, still unwrapped and in their original packaging, is asking for a whopping $300,000.
Another listing on the fashion marketplace Grailed, which is marked as an “authenticated” post, features the “Cactus Buddy!” figure for the asking price of $39,999 (10% off of the original $44,444 price tag.)
But there are dozens of other listings for the individual toys and boxes on resale sites such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace in the much more palatable $10-$30 range, or bundles with all four collectible figurines running between $60-$70.
McDonald’s was not immediately available for comment, but a rep told Axios that, “The hype for the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box was so real that some of our restaurants have sold out of the limited-edition experience.” They added that, “We’re thrilled by the excitement we’re seeing.”
The official McDonald’s Twitter account has also been fielding queries from disappointed potential customers who haven’t been able to get their hands on any of the adult Happy Meals, apologizing that this was only a limited time offer.
Time will tell if more “adult Happy Meals” will be offered in the future. There’s clearly a customer base hungry for more.
This isn’t McDonald’s first viral sensation, of course. The fast food giant has also scored success with celebrity collaborations featuring K-Pop sensation BTS, or singing diva Mariah Carey — which also reportedly sold out.