Monday, December 13, 2010

More uninformed bullshit opinions about the Happy Meal thing and other nutritional topics

I've been thinking and Food and Nutrition and that shit lately because I haven't been to the gym in like 3 weeks and during the Holiday Season you pretty much drink every day and eat like shit so even though the scale says I'm within my acceptable range of 199-204 (I'm 6'4",' shut up), I feel fucking fat. ANYWAY. Couple of things.

(1) The Happy Meal thing.

Hey, if you're reading this, there's a not-zero chance you live in San Francisco and a concomitant not-zero chance you've had to sigh as a relative asked you why you banned Happy Meals. So, Good Idea or just the latest in Crazy San Francisco? A little of both, I think.

First of all, let's get one thing straight: San Francisco did not "ban Happy Meals." The ordinance says that a restaurant meal has to meet certain nutritional guidelines if you offer a toy with it. So Happy Meal away, just leave the toy out. I guess the toy is half the reason to get a Happy Meal, but still.

Anyway, Generic makes the good point that 1 in 5 kids are obese and implies, I think, that the Happy Meal Ban (oh shit, I just contradicted myself but you know that's what everyone's calling it so I give up and it's just easier shorthand) is a reasonable governmental response to the problem.

Now, The Other Side (i.e., Everyone between the Caldecott Tunnel and the Hudson River, except for Austin and Madison and Boulder) would reply "Hey, my child's nutrition is my own damn business and I'd like the option of offering my child a Buzz Lightyear or some odious character from Shrek or whatever the fuck they're putting in Happy Meals these days and here comes that Board of Supervisors to tell me I can't! That's too much Big Government!"

Well, yeah, that sounds right, too, except 1 in 5 children are OBESE and this is clearly a public health concern and we are all, as taxpayers, going to end up paying in some way or another when your child has Diabetes and needs one of those scooters just to move his gigantic whale-like body around.

BUT here's the problem I have with the HMB: I have yet to see, from the Supervisors or anywhere else, any concrete evidence that removing the toy from the Happy Meal will lead to less consumption of Happy Meals. I mean, that's the assumption, right? We're all taking it for granted that if you take the toy out, parents will all of THE sudden[*] say "Well, I was going to go to the McDonald's near my house because it's quick and easy and cheap, but now I'll stay home and prepare a nutritious salad for my child because there's no toy in the Happy Meal." I think that's as ridiculous as it sounds. Until I see some research saying otherwise, I will continue to believe that parents will still be feeding their kids McDonald's, Happy Meal toy or not.

Maybe I'll hit up my local McD's today and make some in-person observations. I'll even enjoy a delicious Quarter Pounder with Cheese, even though I know it'll make me feel sick afterward like it always does.

[*] The Wife recently noticed that I say "all of THE sudden" instead of "all of A sudden," which I had never noticed before but which is apparently a VERY BIG DEAL to her because she gets visibly agitated now when I say "all of THE sudden." Some evidence indicates that AOAS is correct, but Wiktionary, whatever the fuck that is, says that AOTS is an "alternative form" of AOAS, so there you go.

(2) The Worst Food in America comes from Cheesecake Factory, big fucking surprise

Cheesecake Factory is the Worst Restaurant in the World, so it's no surprise they have the Worst Dish: something called a Bistro Shrimp Pasta which sounds innocuous enough but as it turns out has 2,730 calories and 78 grams of saturated fat.

I don't know how you even begin to cram 2 1/2 ounces of saturated fat into one dish. Did they like inject the shrimp with raw fat or something? Or is the pasta actually made out of congealed fat? How do you even do that?

Wanna know why you should never eat at Cheesecake Factory? Go stand outside a Cheesecake Factory sometime and see what the people going in and out look like. QED.

The Board of Supervisors banned the wrong thing. 2 1/2 ounces of saturated fat is a Happy Meal toy for the Morbidly Obese. They should have banned Bistro Shrimp Pasta instead.

[UPDATES I AND II!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

UPDATE I: I just could not stomach (literally, har har) the idea of going to McD's yesterday. Maybe some other day soon. I also have this vague idea for a project where I sit at a 4-way stop intersection in SF and count how many cars come to a full stop at one of the stop signs, but it's going to be like 2% and we all know it and so what's the point. That has nothing to do with any of this.

UPDATE II: A-HA!!!!!! Squid Pro Quo seems to have some objective evidence that kids want Happy Meals only for the toys. This suggests that maybe if you take the toys out, kids won't want Happy Meals. What it also means is that they'll just graduate to Big Macs sooner. That clamshell box is a toy, essentially. Situation remains unresolved.


bluemonk said...

It's a big deal to me too :) Glad you changed it! Now I can read it in peace.

Colin Lieberman said...

The logical fallacy you've described here is best characterized by the quote "We must do something! This is something, therefor we must do it!"

It's really not that difference to the TSA security-by-fiat approach.

John said...

If you say "all of the sudden" do you also say "One at the time"?
A friend of mine uses the latter, not sure about the former.

Anonymous said...

Squid Pro Quo said exaclty what I was thinking. I don't think removing the toy will change whether or not a parent buys the meal for the kid, but it will probably put a stop to the kid begging the parent to buy it for the toy.

Tamagosan said...

The problem is surely that parents actually listen to what their kids say they want to eat instead of just making them eat spinach and cod liver oil and raw oats like they should. Oh yes, this non-parent has so many parenting tips.

On ridiculous nutrition news, my old office used to get Nutrition Action Newsletter. They would compare, on their back page, a food that was surprisingly good for you with a food that seemed okay but was really made of fat-injected shrimp or something. But it devolved into something that was obviously great vs. something that obviously sucked. Big surprise: Fresh kale is good for you! Eight Big Macs in a blender with fat-injected shrimp, not so much! This month is a classic. I'm currently having a breakfast of bulgar with almonds and raisins, but I'll go to my day job and see what the cooks can add to a pork belly banh mi to make it even more fattening, so it all works out.

On a side side note, I feel your wife's pain. I just read a translation blog entry all about misplaced apostrophes. The French think that putting strange punctuation in a French word somehow makes it English. As a translator, this just confirms my job security...

TK said...

Oh yeah, CSPI. Those are the killjoys that pick a cuisine every few months and tell us we can't eat it. "No Chinese! No Italian! No popcorn at the movies!"

Their bigger message is correct, of course, but they have such a hamhanded way of going about it that it gets lost.

Dusty Modern said...

Are "Austin, Madison, and Boulder" on the most popular baby names of 2010 list?

me said...

204, jesus is 6'4" your circumference?

DrFeelgood said...

Agree with your assertion of the lack of evidence that toys influence the purchase. I have kids. No kid I know says, "please take me to McD to get the HM because I want that cheap-ass cardboard put-together thingy of the despereaux castle (actually another company's gimmick). The unresearched opinion as to why the toys are there in the first place, from experience, is to keep the hyperactive little critter in his chair long enough to woof down something - anything - while you are on the road eating that crap in the first place while on that long drive to see the in-laws. The toy is a helpful and useful occupational tool.