Where is Franklin … McDonald’s?

Franlin Armstrong - TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

Franlin Armstrong – TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

By Ralph R. Walker

 Seeking a way to escape from the volatile events that have been occurring, such as the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and countless shootings in the United States and abroad, the world often turns to film for solace.

A trip to the movies can often take us away from these surrounding and distance us from world events, albeit briefly.

The new film “Peanuts the Movie” about the adventures of that world famous comic strip character and his gang is being touted by that famous hamburger chain McDonald’s minus one important character – Franklin Armstrong.

Franklin Armstrong is known as Charlie Brown’s faithful friend and confidant but he is noticeably absent in the new Happy Meal’s box the chain provides for children.

Franklin is so special to me because I know the effort that was put forth to establish the character. Harriet Glickman wrote to Charles M. Schulz to encourage him to create an (at the time Negro) African-American character – back in 1968.

A second letter to Mr. Schulz and letters of support from all around the country touched his heart, and Franklin was born on the comic strip and on the television shows.

While Franklin turned 47 years old this past summer he is the most elusive “Peanuts” character to find in stores.

McDonald’s is noted for its promotions with Happy Meals, you know “a free toy inside when you purchase a Happy Meal.”  McDonald’s needs to think outside of their corporate Happy Meal’s Box and include historical references, especially when it comes to the importance of racial desegregation.

My recent trip to McDonald’s was an unhappy meal. No Franklin Armstrong figurine. Franklin did not make the promotional cut but he was in “Peanuts the Movie.”

Several calls were made to McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill: (800) 244-6227. They did reply, only with an email, a lot of words about the marketing staff and their decision: Reference number 12609273 (case of the “Unhappy Meal”).

Happy 47th birthday Franklin, anyway.

Editor’s Note:

“Peanuts” first African-American character, Franklin was honored on July 31 with #Happy Franklin Day –  Harriet Glickman, a school teacher wrote a letter to the comic strip’s creator Charles M. Schulz following the death of Martin Luther King in 1968 urging him to include an African-American character to the popular comic strip. Franklin Armstrong was introduced on July 31, 1968, representing the importance of desegregation. In February, Harriet Glickman (90) will be in Monrovia Library explaining the historical significance of this character.

December 16, 2015

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