Happy Meal Toys Banned for Good

Julie Ryan Evans

happy mealYesterday was a sad day for Happy Meals and children everywhere, or at least those in San Francisco (for now), where the city's supervisors voted 8-3 in favor of a ban on toys being handed out with unhealthy meals.

What's an unhealthy meal, you ask? Good question -- a question with MANY potential answers -- but for these purposes they've set the bar at anything with more than 600 calories or too much fat, salt, and sugar and not enough fruits and vegetables.

The vote spread is wide enough to be veto-proof, so it will become law next year. And that's final.

While kids may be crying, some health advocates are celebrating.

“It’s time for fast-food companies to stop exploiting children in order to sell more junk food, and this measure would at least set basic nutrition standards for meals sold with toys," Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Los Angeles Times.

Personally, it just kind of pisses me off and makes me fearful for what's to come.

I fully admit my son is lured in by the toy. He chooses where he wants to eat not based on the food, but on what prize a restaurant may have at any given moment. I KNOW the power of those toys.

But guess what? He doesn't get to choose very often. I do, because I'm the parent, and I look out for his health. He gets fast food on a limited basis ... like last night after a visit to urgent care for a line drive he took to the head. Our drive-thru meal was a treat after a scary experience during which he was brave. And dammit, I'm glad he got his Megamind toy.

I understand the intent, it's the infringement on personal choice and businesses' ability to make a dollar that leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Because what will be targeted next? Bonus products with purchase at the cosmetic counter? Many beauty products have been shown to be dangerous, so we better not push extra ones on consumers.

What about Cracker Jacks? They still have a prize and are full of sugar.

Two-for-one happy hour specials? Studies have shown alcohol is akin to cocaine and heroin.

Where will it end?

And why go after what's being offered already, instead of forcing the healthy food folks to up the ante?

Perhaps every package of baby carrots should have to contain a toy, and broccoli could boast a line of action figures.

I'm the first to condemn our nation's eating choices and to plead for parents to make sure their children eat better, but this ban isn't going to do much at all besides make kids sad and parents perturbed.

What do you think of San Francisco's ban on toys being given out with fast food meals?

Image via jasonippolito/Flickr

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