Happy Meals Are Sad in San Francisco

The Happy Meal shows its evil
For a moment there, it seemed like San Francisco had joined Real America. The Giants win the World Series for the first time since moving to what might as well be Europe -- even though they did it with a bunch of hippies and freaks -- showing they can be victorious at more than rent-price competitions. 

Now they decide they want to outlaw happiness. Well, Happy Meals anyway. Which is where most childhood happiness comes from right? Really it's just the toys, but practically speaking the meal will have no happy. From the SF Weekly:

It seems the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has accomplished what the Hamburglar never could. They've made off with McDonald's fare. The supes today passed an ordinance that will require meals to meet nutritional guidelines if restaurants wish to include a toy with the food purchase.


My feelings are mixed.

I think the Happy Meal can be a healthy choice (please no one yank that quote out of context) ... for adults. For your grandparents, a Happy Meal was just called a meal. Those little kiddie portions were all they ate, and it was considered a treat. Even the mini-meals they sell now would have been hefty. In fact I can recommend a diet plan. When you go to a fast food place, don't order anything that hasn't been on the menu for 30 years. You'd be amazed at the lean caloric content of even a Big Mac compared with today's madness. You'll end up looking like those pictures of your parents from the '60s, before they had invented Angus Third-Pounders and giant Jamba Juices.

My mother -- who is such an amazing food disciplinarian her co-workers use her as a candy-keeper -- gets Happy Meals for herself in a pinch. And she doesn't even finish them. She leaves a few burger bites and a few fries (which don't last a second in my presence). She gives my daughter the toys. It's a lovely synergy.

But I'm not too worried about the kid and arches associations. For me, McDonald's kid food has always been the most comforting thing in the world. We rarely had it as kids, but it's now the one thing I can always stomach on days of flus and hangovers. So when the kid and I recently were overcoming food poisoning together, I had Happy Meals brought to us, and figured if she can't eat anything else, she'll eat this. She had a whole cheeseburger. Then later barfed it out all over her bed. I was horrified, of course.

So certainly someone who would take pleasure in his daughter's suffering thinks San Francisco is spot-on in its thinking. Not really. As much as I wish most kids would never hear the word Happy Meal, I think it's a real overreach on the government's part to tell parents they're not even allowed the choice. And this does nothing to improve healthy choices. 

We need to separate our thinking between what we think is wrong and what we think ought to be illegal. As Aziz Ansari says in his stand-up act, if he was given a chance to outlaw guys who order table service bottles at nightclubs, he would do it in a second. I would, too. That doesn't mean it should happen.

What do you think of the Happy Meal ban?


Image via JasonIppolito/Flickr

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