20 years of Teenie Beanies

Remember the summer of 1997? I do. Ty Beanie Babies were popular across the globe, and McDonald’s launched its very first set of Teenie Beanies. History was made. (Click here to read an LA Times article from 1998 about the craze.)

Twenty years later, it’s impressive that McDonald’s continues to collaborate with Ty regularly for its Happy Meal toys. (This partnership is almost on par with Barbie and Hotwheels, two iconic brands that also regularly appear at McDonald’s.) Ty’s Beanie Boos line is popular with kid and adult collectors alike, and it’s only fitting that the Ty/McDonald’s partnership has transferred to the Boos.

Later this month we’re looking forward to meeting 15 new Teenie Beanies. But first, join me as I take a little walk down Memory Lane, revisiting the Teenie Beanie US promotions from the last twenty years.


The first set of Teenie Beanies were at McDonalds April 11 through May 15, 1997. There were 10 characters based on existing regular-sized Beanie Babies: Chocolate, Chops, Goldie, Lizz, Patti, Pinky, Quacks, Seamore, Snort and Speedy. Ten million of each character was made. Most Teenies sold out within the first day of being offered. Despite the original plan that two characters would be released per week, McDonald’s issued an announcement April 20 to say that the toys were completely sold out three weeks early.


The 1998 Happy Meal promotion ran May 22 through June 18, 1998. There were 12 different characters: Bones, Bongo, Doby, Happy, Inch, Mel, Peanut (light blue), Pinchers, Scoop, Twigs, Waddle and Zip. Twenty million of each was made to keep up with the anticipated demand.


The 1999 Teenie Beanies were at McDonald’s May 21 through June 17, 1999. Twelve different characters were in the first phase of the promotion: Antsy, Chip, Claude, Freckles, Iggy, Nook, Nuts, Rocket, Smoochy, Spunky, Stretchy and Strut. Four International Bears were available next and were sold completely separate from Happy Meals: Britannia, Erin, Maple and Glory. And one McDonald’s crew exclusive bear was given to employees May 21.


A total of 32 characters were included in the 2000 Teenie Beanie promotion June 13 through November 9. In the first phase, 18 characters were included in the Happy Meals promotion. These came in five categories: Pet Pals (Dotty, Flip, Lips and Slither), At the Zoo (Blizz, Schweetheart, Spike and Tusk), Garden Bunch (Buzz, Flitter, Lucky and Spinner), Under the Sea (Coral, Goochy, Neon and Sting) and Top Secret (Bushy and Springy). The two Top Secret Teenies were released June 29. June 13 was declared McHappy Day, and Millennium the bear was sold separately from Happy Meals. Also on June 13, 10 new Teenies, called the Superstars, were released in four categories that could be purchased separately from Happy Meals: Dinosaur Trio (Bronty, Rex and Steg; June 13), International Bears II (Germania, Osito and Spangle; June 20), Legends (Chilly, Humphrey and Royal Blue Peanut; June 29), and The End Bear (June 30). Finally, the American Trio promotion (Lefty, Righty and Libearty) was October 25 through November 9, which lined up with US elections. Again, these could be purchased separately from Happy Meals.


After a four year hiatus, Teeny Beanies returned to McDonald’s to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Happy Meal. Citing Teenie Beanies as the most successful Happy Meal toy ever, it was only fitting that the mini Ty toys were part of the festivities. The promotion ran July 23 through August 19, 2004. This was the first time that the Teenie Beanie characters were brand-new, and did not have pre-existing regular-size Beanie counterparts. Twelve styles were released, each a bear representing an icon of McDonald’s: Red Shoe, Birdie, Burger, Fries, Golden Arches, Grimace, Hamburger, Happy Meal, Happy Meal 25th, McNuggets, Ronald McDonald, and Shake. (Side note: I think this was my favorite set of Teenies so far.)


Teenie Beanies again returned to celebrate a Happy Meal milestone, this time the 30th Anniversary. By now, Ty had all but retired its iconic Beanie Babies line, trying to find a plush niche in an internet-fueled world with a new line called Beanies Babies 2.0. (Read more about BB2.0 at this TyCollector.com article.) As a result, this run was comprised of Teenie Beanie Babies 2.0, mostly based on existing regular-sized BB2.0 characters: Aussie, Boomer, Cargo, Chill, Clipper, Fable, Fluffball, Frostiness, Hydrant, Jumps, Maiden, Ming, Oasis, Pico, Pops, Quackly, Rascal, Skunkers, Splits, Spurs, Topper and Woolsy. There were, however, some new characters too. Based on an online TBB2.0-themed Happy Meal game were characters Fez, Radish and Yammy; iconic McDonald’s characters were Grimace and Ronald McDonald; and 30th Anniversary-themed bears were Celebration, Streamers and Thirty. Each TBB2.0 came with a code inside its tag that could be used to log into online activities at happymeal.com or ty.com. This promotion ran April 11 through May 15, 2009.


Five years later, Teenie Beanies returned to McDonald’s to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Happy Meal. The Beanie Babies 2.0 line had failed to catch on, but Ty had a new hit on its hands: Beanie Boos! The Teenie Beanie Boos promotion was July 4 through July 31, 2014. There were eight characters total, but each came in two color variations: Coconut, Glamour, Magic, Myrtle, Ollie, Peanut, Spells and Surf. After this promotion ended, I assumed we’d have to wait until 2019 for another Teenie Beanie Happy Meal promotion. But as Ty’s old tagline said, Expect the unexpected!

Want to read more about the past Teenie Beanie promotions? Visit the Teenie Beanie section at TyCollector.com!