But still, you have to start somewhere, and I understand why the San Francisco supervisors picked Happy Meals as their beachhead. I was an obese child, and precisely for the reasons progressives point to: I ate hamburgers far too often. My parents, like many well-meaning adults back then and now, would have preferred me to gobble down fruit and whole-grain bread, just as they would have preferred me to play with handcrafted birch-wood toys instead of Six Million Dollar Man figurines. But I wailed like a car alarm until I got what I wanted. The toys aren’t the main reason kids love Happy Meals. They love the packaging more than anything else. Everything comes in a box, and it all belongs to them. As a kid, you don’t have to poach fries from your parents and you get a toy and something to read or draw on. It’s a little package of pleasure, just for you. That’s how we eat in the U.S., and we’d rather get fat eating things our way than eating healthier foods some other way…

Why? Because as Americans, we like highly processed food. It was invented to please us. Cheap flavor bombs will always trump healthier alternatives. Dangling a Transformer or Beanie Baby or some other toy du jour in front of a kid may help balance the playing field at least a little. But why can’t cheap, processed food be made healthier?