With its nationwide rollout of apple slices in Happy Meals recently completed, McDonald’s USA is touting the nutritional benefits with a new series of TV ads and a chef contest for children and parents.

The commercials started airing March 7. The first ads, which are cartoons, feature a boy named Ferris who lives on a farm and guides his goat to better eating habits with a focus on the fruit and dairy food groups. The tie-in is with McDonald’s apple slices and fat-free chocolate milk.

“For the first time, 100% of our national marketing efforts to kids will include nutrition or active lifestyle messages — a significant move in our ongoing commitment to children’s well-being,” Neil Golden, McDonald’s USA chief marketing officer, said in a news release. “We are proud of this new approach and believe it will help make nutrition fun for kids while helping families feel even better about the food choices they make when visiting McDonald’s.”

McDonald’s began rolling out the apple slices last September. The company met its first quarter target for full rollout to all 14,000 or so U.S. restaurants.

The chain sells more than 220 million Happy Meals annually.

McDonald’s doesn’t name its apple suppliers, but they have included Peterson Farms, Shelby, Mich.; Tree Top, Selah, Wash.; Ready Pac, Irwindale, Calif.; and Fresh Express and Taylor Farms, both of Salinas, Calif.

The newest Happy Meal campaign backs a plan, dubbed “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices,” announced by the company in July.

Every Happy Meal now automatically includes apple slices and a kid-size order of french fries.

Chef contest

Through April 18, McDonald’s is also offering a Happy Meal chefs contest for parent-child teams, with an emphasis on nutritional ingredients.

Children ages 8-11 and their parents or guardians can enter online by submitting a video and answering a questionnaire.

Ten children will win trips to the London Olympic Games. Two grand prize winners will be named honorary Happy Meal Chefs. They’ll get an apprenticeship with the company’s executive chef, Dan Coudreaut.

“(It’s) inviting families to join in our team’s effort to make wholesome food fun,” Coudreaut said in the release.

Former U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, among others, is on the judging panel.