December 1, 2011

Happy Meals, Now With LOLZ

adorable_meal_fries.jpgDoes SF Weekly cover anything besides the Happy Meal Toy Ban? I guess I don't know, but columnist Joe Eskenazi sure does get worked up over it. What a smug crank.

Anyway, today's the first day of the San Francisco City Council's ban on free promotional toys for children's meals that don't meet certain nutritional requirements. It's a Happy Meal Toy Ban, and it promptly failed, as Eskenazi gleefully reports, because McDonald's just announced that its Happy Meal toys are no longer free, but can only be purchased alongside a Happy Meal. For ten cents. Which goes to the Ronald McDonald House.

That's right, one thin dime is all it takes to circumvent this much hyped and much criticized law, what a total failure of the Nanny State, San Francisco should be so embarrassed.

Except that the law, and the similar restrictions it inspired in cities around the country, and the debate it engendered and the attention it focused on the caloric and nutritional value of standard Happy Meals, was instrumental in getting McDonald's to change their menu nationwide. Now Happy Meals don't have soda, only apple juice or milk. They all have apple slices, with no caramel-flavored HFCS dip. The fries serving was cut by almost 60%, to just 100 calories. AND HAVE YOU SEEN HOW CUTE THAT LITTLE FRY BOX IS??? DON'T YOU WANT TO SNUGGLE IT LIKE A BABY ZHU ZHU PET??

So thanks to hippy dippy San Fran Skippy, every kid in the country now consumes 150-200 or so fewer calories every time their badgering for a piece of crap Bakugan is successful. Cinnamon Melts and Oreo McFlurries for everybody!

Happy Meal Ban: McDonald's Outsmarts San Francisco [sfweekly]


ARSENIC- and LEAD-LADEN apple juice. Don't you see what's going on here, people? RAND corporation! RAND corporation! I'm freaking out!

[uh, SPOILER ALERT? -ed.]

It would be nice if we could educate consumers and get the "debate" and "attention" you mention without getting governments involved. The energy and hot air expended to develop these types of ineffective and embarrassing laws could be better spent elsewhere.

true, the inefficiency and potential for insanity of this approach shouldn't be ignored because it happens to have some arguably positive side effect. OTOH, it'd be nice, too, if companies made enlightened, net-positive changes without having to be needled and shamed into doing it by activist city councils and whatnot. The fact is, only 11% of consumers ever asked for apple slices, and McD only changed their entire Happy Meal system of pushing default soda & fries after annoying local laws like this started messing with their economies of scale.

Wow, I'm part of the 11% -- and the first move was to throw out the caramel sauce. But I don't feel like a health fanatic....

Right? Our kids didn't even know about the sauce until like August, right before it was discontinued.

But now I want to start a blog of photos of really fat kids chowing down on Supersized Happy Meals:

I used to work in a Children's Hospital. There was a McDonald's in the lobby. Used to joke it was the only part of the hospital that operated in the black. It smelled of fat kids and ketchup.

Here's a silly question: is it a "win" to eliminate an unhealthy option from the parents who (for whatever reason) weren't choosing the healthy options already there?

Because if you say yes, then it becomes the duty of The Enlightened to start eliminating all unhealthy options of all kinds from kids' menus everywhere. Seems like a dubious crusade.

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