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Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño (1934–2021), creator of the McDonald’s Happy Meal

by Linnea Crowther

Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño was a businesswoman who ran the first McDonald’s franchise in Guatemala and invented the Happy Meal.

A McDonald’s innovator

Fernández de Cofiño purchased the first Guatemalan McDonald’s franchise in 1974, along with her husband. Not long after entering the business, Fernández de Cofiño was looking for a quick and easy option for parents to order for their children. She introduced the “Ronald Menu” at her restaurant, consisting of a small hamburger, small fries, and ice cream, packaged in a bag. McDonald’s corporate leaders took note of the menu item and soon began rolling it out worldwide as the Happy Meal. Fernández de Cofiño also originated the concept of holding children’s parties at McDonalds, for which she was honored with a Ronald Award in 1980. She also won a Golden Arches Award, the highest honor given by McDonald’s. Fernández de Cofiño continued to run her franchise until her retirement in 2018.

Tributes to Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño

Full obituary: Newsweek

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