Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Illegal Happy Meals! This is "What Got To Me Today"

Oh puh-leeeaasse give me a break.  I just watched a video from about a law in Santa Clara County, CA making happy meals/kids meals illegal because it should be unlawful to use advertising to lure children to unhealthy foods. 

Really?  Last time I checked it was the parent who decided what their kids should have for dinner.  So what then?  We implement a law so parents don't have to hear their kids whine and beg for Happy Meals?  How weak is that?  Now, before all of the health foodies out there go ballistic (as I consider myself a version of one), let me say the following disclaimer:

I know fast food restaurants do not make their biggest profits on their healthier menu items.  I know fast food is a major contributing factor to childhood obesity in this country.  I know that fast food is often much more affordable than healthier options, and that some families cannot afford to feed their entire families elsewhere.  I know all of these facts.

What I do not know, is how county officials are allowed into my kitchen, or my car, to decide what I  feed my kids for dinner.  We don't let government into our bedrooms, so why should we let them into any other rooms of our homes (unless of course there is a CRIME being committed)?  There are so many awesome programs out there, many provided by the government, that seek to educate versus boycott.  And this is coming from me, one of the all time pro- boycotters out there.  Show me the injustice of happy meals, and I will consider your argument.

You want to take soda (pop), candy and chips out of the lunch line at public schools?  Go for it.  But when it comes to how I spend my own money on my kids, hands off.  I guess this is similar to a "dry" county, where alcohol is not legally for sale within county lines.  But if you're going to boycott kids meals based on that argument, then you have to boycott ALL fast food, not just for kids.

This is strictly about advertising, and whether or not we, as parents, give into it.

This takes me back to my Cookie Monster debate, and how the "cookie opposition people" wanted to give Cookie Monster carrots and celery instead, because cookies contribute to childhood obesity.  My argument then was the same as it is now, it is up to the parents to moderate what their kids eat.

I, for one, occasionally look forward to treating my kids to a Happy Meal,  especially, if there was a particular toy they were really crazy about.  It doesn't mean they get the entire series with 12 visits to the restaurant inside of a month.  It means I get to treat my kids to a "TREAT". 

I get the childhood obesity numbers, but again, the kids within the age range of those who want happy meals, only eat what they are provided. You want to tax it?  Fine. But you shouldn't be able to tell me I'm not allowed to buy it.

And I haven't even touched the business side of this argument.  Shouldn't it be true, if fast food restaurants are forced not too offer toys with their food, then health food restaurants should be forced to offer toys along with their kid's menus?  Both arguments, of course, are ludicrous.

This isn't an argument for big business.  This isn't an argument on whether or not fast food causes obesity.  This is an argument about whether or not the government should be allowed to decide what advertising I decide to buy into.  What's next? No trendy flavors for my coffee at the corner coffee house?  Because even though some consumers buy them because they are fun, trendy and sophisticated, they are high in fat and calories?

We, as consumers, get to decide.



  1. I just saw this video and agree. Its the parents who are the ones buying the happy meals what..?? 99% of the time. If parents don't like it, don't freaking buy it. We're surrounded by morans!

  2. I completely agree with you 100%, April. It is the parents choice what to and what not to feed their children. I also agree with what options they provide in schools. We as parents cannot control what they eat at school. I firmly believe that chips and soda pop should not be an option in school period.

  3. They aren't telling you what to feed (or not to feed) your kids. They aren't telling you what you are allowed to buy. Not at all. By removing the toys what they are doing is helping prevent corporations from speaking directly to your children. They are empowering parents to make the right meal decision for/with the kids WITHOUT the child-directed influence and advertising of fun toys.

    It is illegal to advertise cigarettes to children. Do you agree or disagree with that? It is illegal to advertise to children something unhealthy and potentially deadly and habit forming. Fatty foods are all of the above. How are we all dying of heart disease - our nations #1 killer?

    The toys advertise and influence the children. They associate fun with fatty foods. Some children select the fatty foods just in order to get the toy. This county is trying to put the focus back on the food and let the adult make the decisions -- just as you said.

  4. I don't agree we targeting children should be banned period. And no its not cheap to eat at McDonalds every night if you do the math buying grocery and COOKING food is the best thing for children. It's about the future of the next generation and ending this obesity epidemic.

  5. I'm gonna start selling new and even old McDonald's Happy Meal toys to kids at parks for as low as a nickel just to cheese off police and FBI. For anybody who wants to follow suit, SPREAD THE WORD!!

  6. I'm in complete agreement with you, April. One of the things that disturbs me is the price of fruits and vegetables in comparison to meat products. If the government were truly concerned about helping people eat well and healthier, it would begin to better subsidize the fruit and vegetable farmers. The Farm Bill pays farmers to produce crops that are then turned into all of the processed foods (a.k.a. Junk Food) that Americans consume so readily. If the Farm Bill were to share the wealth with the whole foods industry, we would all benefit.

    As you mentioned - schools need to offer better choices and eliminate the chips and sodas and parents need to decide what their children eat while at home (or in the car). Positive role models have a tremendous impact on choices that children make later on in life.

    Bottom line, a trip to McDonald's should be a treat, not a tradition.

  7. All excellent comments, thank you for reading and contributing to the conversation!

  8. April, It is lovely and refreshing that you and this blog accept differing points of view without exploding in argument and one-sidedness. So rare to see a polite exchange of ideas not erupt into online name-calling. Good stuff!! Love it!!!

  9. ok this is the most stupid thing i have ever heard you idiots agreeing with the law need to hang themselves you idiotic f*cks food alone is not a reason kids are fat it the lazy parents that sit them down and turn on the tv or give them video games as opposed to taking em outside to play not being active is more probable to contribute obesity than eating the wrong food on occasion