Nanny state rears its ugly head again - bans toys in Happy Meals

I have such fond memories of Happy Meals. Not today’s Happy Meals, with all of the crazy toys that are marketed towards whatever craze or fad is in at the moment, but the Happy Meals you used to get when I was a kid. Those were the days. You would pull up to the drive-thru, and they would ask if you needed a girl Happy Meal or a boy Happy Meal. Boys usually got miniature racecars, and girls usually got some kind of miniature Barbie. And you got this special box and everything. My brother and I didn’t get them all the time, but when we did, it was a treat. It wasn’t just the toy, it was everything. It was the special box you got with the games on it, the toys that you could collect, getting something that was just for kids. Kids love that kind of stuff. That was the same time when you could have birthday parties at fast food restaurants and they went all out. My brother’s fourth birthday party was at Burger King. I still love watching that home video. There was a Burger King employee that organized the entire party. Every kid got crowns and a balloon. They set up games. And the employee would make announcements and actually took time to make the party fun.

It was such a simpler time twenty years ago. A better time, really.

Today’s nanny-state bureaucrats would happily rob kids of these kind of fond memories. A California county has now banned toys from any meal that they have deemed to be unhealthy.

No toy for you, Junior.

Not if you live in unincorporated Santa Clara County, where the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ban restaurants from giving away toys with children’s meals that exceed set levels of calories, fat, salt and sugar.

The ordinance, which the board passed by a 3-2 vote, is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The target is the fast-food industry and what critics call its practice of marketing unhealthful food to children and fueling an epidemic of obesity among the young.

“This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes,” said the law’s author, Supervisor Ken Yeager. “Obviously, toys in and of themselves do not make children obese. But it is unfair to parents and children to use toys to capture the tastes of children when they are young and get them hooked on eating high-sugar, high-fat foods early in life.”

OK, stop right there. That sentence really makes me angry. Why? Because this idiot is acting as if the toys beckon to children, forcing them to eat the fatty, unhealthy food. It’s all the fault of the toys, not the parents or the kids themselves!! Because of the toys, kids are unable to resist eating at McDonald’s. And heaven knows, if a kid wants something, then their parent must provide it to them!

Acting as if toys are the culprit in this — not irresponsible parents who can’t understand the word NO — is ludicrous. Is the problem here that little Kenny’s parents never took him to get a Happy Meal or something?

Yeager said he hopes the law will inspire cities and counties across the country to follow suit like “ripples that create a wave.”

The law bans toy giveaways in children’s meals that contain more than 485 calories, derive more than 35 percent of their calories from fat or 10 percent from added sweeteners, or have more than 600 mg of sodium. The totals are based on children’s health standards set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

… Members of the California Restaurant Association were unsure if they will offer an alternative to the ordinance, said Amalia Chamorro, the association’s director of governmental affairs.

“If the point is to get a dialogue going with the industry about health, that dialogue is already ongoing,” Chamorro said. “If the point is to solve childhood obesity, taking away a toy isn’t going to help.”

Chamorro said her members will “obey the laws of the land,” but she said she feared the new ordinance could unintentionally punish all child-friendly restaurants. “Where does it stop? Restaurants that offer crayons and coloring books?”

At least one parent, interviewed at a Burger King on Race Street and West San Carlos in an unincorporated area near San Jose, agreed with the restaurant group that the law amounted to government overreaching.

“I don’t need politicians to tell me what I can and can’t buy for my kid,” said Chris Mackey, who bought his daughter, Cattie, a Kids Meal that included an “Iron Man 2” action figure. “We don’t come in here every day, and I don’t associate giving my daughter a toy with giving her bad food. This is a private matter between me and my child.”

That’s exactly why this law is so infuriating to anyone with a modicum of common sense. Yes, childhood obesity is a huge, ongoing problem. The culprit is not Ronald McDonald or Happy Meal toys. The cuplrit is all of the parents out there who let their children eat fast food several times a week; the parents who let their kids play Xbox for hours every day; the parents who never turn off the TV or ban access to the computer.

Case in point: myself. I certainly ate a good amount of fast food as a kid. But I also was not allowed inside the house when it was daylight unless I was doing my homework or reading. Playing Nintendo? Watching TV? Absolutely forbidden. My brother and I grew up being active. We rode bikes, we rollerbladed, we ran around like kids are supposed to do. And it worked. We were both skinny as rails. I, in particular, was tiny. I was even made fun of in middle school for being so skinny (up until about eighth grade, when puberty struck and my curves came in).

I seem to remember this being incredibly normal growing up. All of us kids in the neighborhood were always outside, we were always playing, and sitting around playing video games was not normal. Those kids were made fun of.

Today, those kids are the norm. Video games, televisions, and computers have taken the place of parenting and healthy activities. If parents would actually, I don’t know, be parents, and not let their children turn into fat lazy slobs, then we wouldn’t have such an obesity epidemic. Parents should be outraged over this, but too many parents will simply nod and say, “Yes, that makes sense, it’s because of Happy Meals that my kid is so fat!” This is just one more way for the government to gain more power and for irresponsible parents to point the finger at someone else rather than themselves. Do these people honestly think that, without toys at McDonald’s or Burger King, kids are suddenly going to get slimmer? Bad parents will continue to make bad choices for their children, even without toys. Parents that let their children sit around all day and gobble up whatever crap their little precious wants to eat are still going to do just that.

No amount of government regulation can fix bad parenting. Bad parents will always be bad parents. It doesn’t stop liberals from wanting government to step in to American families and take the place of Daddy, though, does it? Because somehow, liberals think that they are smarter than all of us, more capable than all of us, and so if they only make all of the decisions for us, everything will be perfect.

As an ending, here’s an interesting little thing to note, from William Teach.

Apparently, in Liberal World, you do. You do have to love when liberals/progressives pass these kinds of laws. They pitch a hissy fit over laws meant to actually protect the citizens of a State or the whole USA, such as, oh, I don’t know, the Arizona illegal immigrant law, but, are perfectly happy regulating actual citizens to death over happy meals. Where are the liberal pundits decrying this law as a civil rights violation?

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary, or follow her on Twitter!