Happy Meal Ban Fail

Somehow I am glad to see this story. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, having nothing better to do, decided to ban Happy Meals in McDonald’s earlier this year. Well, not ban exactly, but they made it illegal for a restaurant to give away free toys with meals unless they complied with strict nutritional requirements, which even the school lunches didn’t measure up to. That ban went into effect on December 1. Now we will see a new generation of San Francisco children growing up happier and healthier thanks to the progressive San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Well, maybe not. You see the law bans giving away the toys. It says nothing about selling the toys. And that is just what McDonald’s is doing.

And yet it seems McDonald’s has turned lemons into lemonade — and is selling the sugary drink to San Francisco’s children. Local McDonald’s employees tell SF Weekly the company has devised a solution that appears to comply with San Francisco’s “Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance” that could actually make the company more money — and necessitate toy-happy youngsters to buy more Happy Meals.

It turns out San Francisco has not entirely vanquished the Happy Meal as we know it. Come Dec. 1, you can still buy the Happy Meal. But it doesn’t come with a toy. For that, you’ll have to pay an extra 10 cents.

Huh. That hardly seems to have solved the problem (though adults and children purchasing unhealthy food can at least take solace that the 10 cents is going to Ronald McDonald House charities). But it actually gets worse from here. Thanks to Supervisor Eric Mar’s much-ballyhooed new law, parents browbeaten into supplementing their preteens’ Happy Meal toy collections are now mandated to buy the Happy Meals.

Today and tomorrow mark the last days that put-upon parents can satiate their youngsters by simply throwing down $2.18 for a Happy Meal toy. But, thanks to the new law taking effect on Dec. 1, this is no longer permitted. Now, in order to have the privilege of making a 10-cent charitable donation in exchange for the toy, you must buy the Happy Meal. Hilariously, it appears Mar et al., in their desire to keep McDonald’s from selling grease and fat to kids with the lure of a toy have now actually incentivized the purchase of that grease and fat — when, beforehand, a put-upon parent could get out cheaper and healthier with just the damn toy.

If I want a Happy Meal and McDonald’s is willing to sell it to me, why is that any business of the Board of Supervisors or the legislature or Congress, or anyone else? This whole business began when San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar discovered that his daughter had a pile of Happy Meal toys in her room.

As Mar later told reporters, he was shocked to discover a trove of toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals stashed in her room. Mar was the one taking his daughter to McDonald’s and buying the food — but he said that the “pester power” of a preteen was simply too much for him to withstand on his own. So he proposed that the city ban restaurants from including toys with meals of more than 600 calories that lack agreed-upon amounts of fruits and vegetables.

So, because he couldn’t control his daughter and be an actual parent, everybody in San Francisco has to suffer. Maybe they deserve it for living in San Francisco.If I lived in a city run by that kind of meddling nanny-staters, I would move out.

The other thing that occurs to me is that I really wish that politicians at every level of government would consider carefully the consequences of the legislation they propose. If they cannot anticipate the likely consequences, which would be almost every time, maybe they should leave the matter alone.

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