And then they came for the Happy Meal toys

Posted by: ST on April 27, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Really. Just what will they think of next?

The latest target in the battle over fast food is something you shouldn’t even put in your mouth.

Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings.

The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. Across the nation, cities, states and school boards have taken aim at excessive sugar, salt and certain types of fats.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the proposal would forbid the inclusion of a toy in any restaurant meal that has more than 485 calories, more than 600 mg of salt or high amounts of sugar or fat. In the case of McDonald’s, the limits would include all of the chain’s Happy Meals — even those that include apple sticks instead of French fries.

Supporters say the ban would encourage restaurants to offer more-nutritious foods to kids and would make unhealthful items less appealing. But opponents believe it amounts to government meddling in parental decisions. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal Tuesday.

Even though it’s largely symbolic — the proposed ban would apply only to the dozen fast-food restaurants within the jurisdiction of the board — the proposal has caused a bit of an uproar on the Internet, where comments on YouTube and other sites say it is another example of the “nanny state” gone wild.

The California Restaurant Assn. has taken out full-page newspaper advertisements against the proposed ordinance in local newspapers. One shows a little girl with her hands cuffed behind her back as she holds a stuffed animal.

Another opponent wrote in a YouTube posting, “I want to know when the pitchforks and torches and rope is going to come out…. We need to run these Frankenstein politician monsters the hell out of town!”

Ken Yeager, the Santa Clara County supervisor who is behind the effort, says the toys in kids’ meals are contributing to America’s obesity epidemic by encouraging children to eat unhealthful, fattening foods.

Yeager, of course, is a Democrat.

Some Santa Clara residents weighed in with their thoughts:

“We went through a phase when my daughter wanted the Happy Meal just to get the toy,” said Kristen Dimont, 37. The Sunnyvale blogger said that once her child tasted fast food, it took years to coax her back to the healthful variety. Dimont likes the idea of the ban — and thinks the supervisors should consider extending it to the play yards that also attract children to fast-food restaurants.

Rebecca Wolpinsky, 32, a mother of two, says she can’t stand the toys that are included with fast-food meals for children. “The toys are crap, honestly,” she said. “We end up recycling them or they end up getting left in the car.”

But Wolpinsky opposes banning the toys — or blaming them for childhood obesity.

“To say that Burger King or McDonald’s is the root cause or that giving toys with children’s meals is a root cause is not right,” she said.

McDonald’s declined to comment on the proposed ban. But the California Restaurant Assn. has played a major role in the opposition.

If County Supervisor Yeager “wants to take away the toys that are making kids fat, take away Xboxes, take away PlayStations, take away flat-screen TVs,” said Daniel Conway, spokesman for the industry group.

And cell phones – especially Blackberries, laptops, desktops … and maybe we should ban mothers from working – at least until their children turn 18 – so they can stay home and make sure their kids are active enough after school that they don’t become overweight. Can you think of anything else?

Seriously, though, I’m sure it’s a possbility that some kids want that Happy Meal because of the toy, but I suspect it’s a minority. Kids love burgers and fries almost as much – if not as much – as they like toys. But the toys in the McD’s Happy Meals really aren’t anything to write home about. That said, if they’re really so offensive to the likes of Yeager, instead of mandating they stop why not offer tax breaks to the local McDonald’s restaurants for opting out of including the toy in the meal, or for maybe noting on the menu that the toy is no longer included with the meal but if you’d like one for your child, please ask for one?

Oh wait. We’re talking about the left coast, where liberal politicos have rarely ever met a tax break they liked.

McQ sums it up nice and neat:

This is just the beginning of what you can expect to see from the food nazis (the FDA and salt?) now that government health care reform is law.

Next thing you know, left coast nanny-staters will be calling for a mandatory tofu Happy Meal to replace the burger and fries.

Maybe one day they’ll actually end up standing against something that actually does have the potential influence young folks to engage in bad behavior, like Planned Parenthood groups using cartoons to both sell condoms as “fun,” and to “blow up” abortion opponents with a “condom gun.”

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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29 Responses to “And then they came for the Happy Meal toys”

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  1. John A says:

    Ban the toys? Why not ask they be included with a kid-sized salad instead? Side benefit, kids might then mistake the toys for croutons, allowing mom and dad to profit.

    Oh yeah, and also ban the play areas. Let’s not encourage the kids to exercise.

    Last week, some school systems in the UK had to re-think their school lunch programs. Seems kids actually need proteins, fats, etc.

  2. Xrlq says:

    My boys loooooooooove the toys. They typically demand I open the toys for them before they even start on the burger or McNuggets, a fair chunk of which almost always ends up going to waste. My sense is that if it weren’t for the toys, they’d still insist on McD’s by name but end up eating the whole thing for want of anything better to do. They didn’t really think it was the toys that made kids fat, did they? There’s no reasoning with a Bay Area politician.

  3. Dana says:

    Last time I looked, the toys in the Happy Meals only appealed to kids who were so young that they had to be taken to Mickey D’s by an adult. If your kid gets a Happy Meal, it’s because you, as his parent, chose to buy it for him.

  4. Bastiat Fan says:

    If your kid gets a Happy Meal, it’s because you, as his parent, chose to buy it for him. And therein lies the problem, Dana. As a good prole you are not qualified to make those decisions for your children

    Now sit down, shut up and love big brother.

  5. nina says:

    Only in Kalifornia! A beautiful state full of idiots.

  6. NC Cop says:

    So now the dems are like Burgermeister from “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”???

    “BAN ALL TOYS!!!”

  7. Drew says:

    You vill like de brussel sprouts……und de sparagus…..und de spinich. Und ven vee ask you, you vill say “VEE LIKE IT!!!!”

    Now, as ver de salt and fat and liquor. Vee have vays of making zis painful for you…..or you can be …….re-educated.

    And they complained about the Patriot Act, an attempt to identify terrorists.

    Where the fork is our country going? Where the hell are we???

  8. Pasadena Phil says:

    Study after study has shown that today’s children are not obese because they eat more than children of prior generations or that their diets are less healthy. It’s that children don’t get any exercise! The government runs PSAs on every TV station urging children to play just one hour per day!

    Besides, can’t parents say no to their children anymore? (And plastic toys are not fattening anyway.)

  9. MaryK says:

    well in frisco tx, they have taken up Michell Obama’s cause to end childhood obesity. there is a new program that rewards school systems with money for taking part in them. My middle school son came home and told me ice cream and gatorade were removed from lunch. My son is fit and a very healthy eater. I resent the school system and the federal gov’t telling me what my son can and cannot eat.
    Plus, you can monitor the food online and restrict foods for your child if you feel it is necessary. Stay out of my family and my life please!:((

  10. Cthulhu2012 says:

    “Besides, can’t parents say no to their children anymore? (And plastic toys are not fattening anyway.)”

    Had the same thought when I read the quote from the mom who said it took years to get her daughter off of fast food. She could have saved years of stress and worry if she had just followed the simple two-step process my parents did with me:

    1. Sit down at the table.
    2. Eat what you’re given or go hungry.

  11. William says:

    For every American Mom that is one of the wisest, hardworking, kindest person in the world, there’s another that’s a blogger blagging about how she had to “wheen” her daughter off of the terrors of Fast Food and demanding banning happiness in all non-creating-compost forms.

    Argh.

  12. Carlos says:

    One of the favorite bumper stickers around here (a major college town) is, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

    The educated here, as in the Late Great State of CA, are apparently doing just that: trying deeper ignorance than ever before!

  13. Bill G. says:

    Anything not forbidden is mandatory.
    Anything not mandatory is forbidden.
    Coming soon from a commissar near you.

  14. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    We did the Happy Meal Tour of Duty when the kids were small. There’s still a couple of Buzz Lightyear’s and Barbie Toys lying around and my youngest is 15.

    All across the board, they are slowly taking the fun out of childhood. Many school districts no longer allow cupcakes for birthdays. It’s fruit or bagels instead.

    We used to do this fundraiser on Fridays, called Snack Attack. Mostly brownies, cupcakes, popsicles, etc. While I agree that the school lunches bought at school need to be revised (mostly burgers, three kinds of fries: gravy, plain, cheese), public enterprise should not be controlled by the government, local or otherwise.

    Leave it to California.

  15. Kate says:

    Problem is the parents aren’t being parents and just saying “N0″. Of course, I always looked at the Happy Meal situation as a treat, not a regular meal. And the toy was always just a little extra. There always seems to be a tie in to a current Disney Movie or cartoon….so why doesn’t that body of illustrious leaders ban the tie-in and the cartoons? That’s what is advertised to get the kids attention to even think of going to McDonald’s! Perhaps they should ban all advertisements directed at kids? Once you start something like this where does it end?

    When we were kids we didn’t have 24-hour kid entertainment channels, X-box, Nintendo, Play Stations….we had other kids in the neighborhood who were looking for something to do and we played games like army (how politically incorrect), kick ball, 4-square and hopscotch, played with our Barbies on the front porch, actually used our swing sets. I see so many of these standing idle in neighbor’s backyards that I wonder why the parents even bothered to erect such monstrosities. Then there are the empty trampolines….parents try to encourage activity by putting kids into “activities” like gymnastics and sports, but not all kids are meant to be the next Olga Korbut or A-Rod. In the end we are all spinning our wheels and wondering why our kids are obese. Maybe we should go outside and play with them and show them how it’s done….do you remember how?

  16. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    P.S. My children both participate in sports and are outside and their mother makes sure there is an abundance of nutritious food in the house. McDonalds or whatever, is an indulgence and not a daily occurance.

    Too many children today are inactive, opting to stay inside on video games, etc.

  17. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    @ Kate. Your comment on ‘kids playing army’ reminded me of when my son was in preschool. His Teacher called me in for a conference because she wanted to discuss his always ‘making guns out of leggoes or sticks outside and we don’t know what the long term consequences of such behavior is’. I asked her if he played well with others, had a conscience, was he an otherwise good boy? She replied yes. And I told her I wasn’t concerned. I saw her 4 years later and told her that my son traded in all his ‘guns’ for sports equipment.

  18. unseen says:

    ROFL…..obeseity did not become a problem until after 1970’s when due to junk science the liberals decided we needed to change our entire food eating habits. they changed the USDA requirements, told everyone that fat was bad, to limit protiens and increased carbs. Now they wonder why our kids are fat?

    You ever see a fat mountian lion? that eats fat and protien?

    however put a cow out to pasture eating nothing but grass (carbs) and you get one fat cow.

  19. James says:

    Its only a matter of time before the trade of Happy Meal toys rivals underground drug trafficking. Might we someday have “toy easys” similar to Prohibition’s Speak easys? The possibilities for an underground economy are endless as the government slowly steals our freedoms.

  20. James says:

    While I agree about the carbs, I disagree about fat grass-fed cattle. We have raised cattle in the past. Corn, and other supplements fatten cattle.

  21. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    It’s more the processed carbs than the unrefined carbs that are bad. When they started added more chemicals and HFC (high fructose corn syrup, a cheap sweetener) into the mix, obesity rates began to soar. The biggest problem is not getting enough fresh food and feeding ourselves in overprocessed, prepackaged food. I’ve had a few people tell me that they lost weight just by changing to organic meat. As for myself, I lost weight just by eating oatmeal in the morning (and regular the rest of the day)

  22. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    A great book on eating nutritionally: If the Buddha Came to Dinner by Hale Sofia Schatz. She is into the food combining, however she teaches people how to eat nutritionally and seasonally. We are bombarded with what, how, when to eat, we have no idea what’s right or good anymore. A good read, interesting, if you are into nutrition.

  23. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    The above mentioned was not a public service announcement..just an overly caffeinated mother with a day off.

  24. Ben says:

    A national poll conducted by MediaCurves.com among 301 viewers of a video clip highlighting potential government regulation of toys in fast-food kids’ meals found that majority of parents (82%) reported that the U.S. government should not regulate toys in fast-food kids’ meals. In addition, the majority of parents (77%) indicated that child obesity rates would stay the same if toys were banned from fast-food restaurant meals. Further results can be seen at: LINK

  25. Carlos says:

    Oh, great! Now they’re gonna take all the high-fructose syrup out of my soda, and I’ll have to drink water because I can’t stand the oily, chemical taste of artificial sweeteners!

    Thanks, guys.

    Of course, that will mean I eat nothing but meat and raw veggies, so maybe it won’t be all that bad, as long as I have my full-count Vitamin D milk, too.

  26. Lorica says:

    however put a cow out to pasture eating nothing but grass (carbs) and you get one fat cow.

    You also get alot of very tastey steaks!!!

    Good God has the left gone out of it’s mind. I find it completely odd that somehow, somewhere they actually think this will help kids. How about trying to stop child abductions, making our parks safer so kids can play without a million worried parents watching over them.

    Ohhh What am I saying, these are the same people who could careless if our Nation’s borders are secure, they don’t care that 100s of women are brought into this country illegally to be used as slaves, or care about the 100s of illegals who die in the desert attempting to get thru our unsecured borders. – Lorica

  27. Just Plain Bill says:

    On a National level you can see the same thing happening.
    The PACT Act was signed into law on March 31, 2010.
    That Act prohibits the mailing of a legal product through the U.S. Post Office. How far can they go?
    Seemingly without limit.