Kids meals in San Francisco aren’t so happy anymore.
That’s because the city council has effectively banned the McDonald’s Happy Meal. The council voted earlier this month to require fast food meals with toys to meet certain nutritional guidelines.
What is the reasoning behind the ban? “Happy meals make kids fat.”
My brother and I grew up on Happy Meals. I will never forget our meal of choice: Chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce. What wasn’t there to love? It had everything: a cool box, good food, and of course, a toy. My brother grew up to be a star baseball player in college. And as for me? Let’s just say I could use a few more McDonald’s meals in my diet, because I’m as skinny as a french fry.
Eating McDonald’s as a kid didn’t implant a craving for the food into my mind. It didn’t make me want to overindulge in fatty foods later in life.
Joe Eskenazi at the San Francisco Weekly hits the nail on the head. “It seems the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has accomplished what the Hamburglar never could. They’ve made off with McDonald’s fare,” he wrote.
But are toys really the only thing the city council has taken away?
Who are they to mandate how parents should feed their kids? Where is the personal responsibility? If you don’t want them to eat the food, take them someplace else. If they still nag you enough to take them to Micky D’s, choose healthier options, like apple dippers.
If a city can tell McDonald’s that they can’t put toys in Happy Meals, what could be next? Will they take away our gelato in Scooters? If they deem bacon unhealthy, will they tell Mary how to make her sandwiches in the Binz? The government can’t even effectively run the DMV or the post office, so why should we trust it to make decisions about our food?
Is getting rid of toys really the best way to fight childhood obesity? The city officials in San Francisco seem to think so. It’s as if they think people are incapable of making personal decisions. Parents can always swap for healthier food options, and kids can get plenty of exercise outside. There’s no need to take the “happy” out of the Happy Meal.
Long before the golden arches, our founding fathers wrote the Constitution. They didn’t mean for the government to micromanage our lives. The document was only four pages long, and mainly described what the government can’t do to the people, not the reverse.
So city, state and national officials: can you please get your priorities in order? College students are graduating and unable to find jobs. Stop the witch hunt of Happy Meal toys and set your sights on the economy.
In the meantime, I’m going to McDonald’s to get a Happy Meal. They still have toys here in St. Paul.
Zach Pagano can be reached at email@example.com.