The One Thing You May Never See At A McDonald's Again

Get ready for a big tray of some greasy, deep-fried nostalgia. For years, McDonald's and their chaotically fun PlayPlaces have served as a kid-friendly fixture for families. The spaces have been closed in recent months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we doubt you've forgotten the iconic image of the McDonald's PlayPlace: the high-pitched screams of overactive kids, the brightly colored tunnel slide, and of course, the ball pit. Who can forget the ball pit?

Apparently, Chris Kempczinski has no problem forgetting about the ball pit. The McDonald's CEO recently made some waves when he floated the idea of never building a ball pit again within the fast food chain (via TIME). According to Kempczinski, "There's probably some good public-health reasons not for us to be doing a lot of ball pits." He didn't stop there. "I don't know if we've got ball pits in our future," he added. This isn't exactly immediate: Kempczinski didn't express any plans to close already-existing ball pits. And sure, the ball pit demise may be a bummer, but it's not a surprise.

The truth about ball pits

Amid the ongoing pandemic, corporations everywhere have revisited health regulations. And even before the days of COVID-19, ball pits weren't just grimy — they could be dangerous. Scientific studies have concluded that the fun-loving pits are actually hotbeds for germs, and we're not talking about a case of the common cold. They found bacteria linked to meningitis, blood infections, and pneumonia, according to The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail also pointed out that kids playing in ball pits may walk away with some scrapes — it's only natural after all the jumping, climbing, and throwing. Those seemingly harmless injuries can make infections all the more possible. A study from the University of Georgia explored six different ball pits throughout the state and discovered up to thousands of bacterial cells on each ball, according to the United Kingdom's National Health Service.

The realities of ball pit germs may leave you feeling a little less forgiving toward these questionable spaces. Is nostalgia really worth a dose of meningitis? And are you willing to let your kids play in one before wolfing down nuggets?

That's not the only change looming over the world-famous franchise. Starting August 1, the chain began requiring masks for all customers, after training employees to de-escalate customers who refuse to wear one, according to TIME. For now, we think McDonald's has more immediate worries than the future of the ball pit.