Happy Meals

I just read about city fathers in San Francisco passing a law that prohibits retailers such as McDonalds and Burger King from putting toys in their children’s lunch boxes.

The object of this law is to prevent children from consuming so much unhealthful food.

Most of us know that too much hamburger, fries, ice cream, coffee, booze or anything else is not good for us.

True, small children probably have no idea about these things, but how many small kids go unattended to these cafés to order a Happy Meal?

Adults do this.

The kids may beg, “Mama, I want to get a Happy Meal.”

But Big Brother now takes all the responsibility from her shoulders. She doesn’t have to be the bad guy and say, “No, you just had a Happy Meal yesterday. We can’t do that every day.” No, now she can say, “Sorry kid, it’s against the law. No more Happy Meals for you. They get caught slipping a Happy Meal to you and Ronald McDonald will be facing hard time up in San Quentin.”

Wait a minute. It seems perfectly legitimate for a store to refuse to sell certain products to unaccompanied children. Beer, cigarettes; maybe matches and a number of other products. Perhaps even Happy Meals.

But now Big Brother is going so far as to rob us of our parental responsibility. He’s saying, “Since Happy Meal sales are doing so well, it’s obvious that the average adult isn’t responsible enough to decide what his/her child can eat, so we have to step in and save these poor hapless children from their own indulgent and neglectful parents.” Is he going to step in and help when our child is sick or in trouble at school? Will he come in and turn off the X Box because the kid is wasting time and gaining a waistline?

Where does this stop? Where does Big Brother draw the line? Are Fleers and Cracker Jacks in danger now? Placing a toy or trinket, a baseball card, a dish, a cup, a towel, etc. in products has been going on forever. In the old days they called it a lagniappe. Buy something and get something free. It’s advertising. An inducement to buy a product.

As adults, I’m under the impression that it should be our right to choose to allow our children to buy a product because — or despite the fact — that it contains a “prize”. Is Big Brother going to tell us we’re taking our kids to the wrong church in the near future, or we’re allowing them to watch the wrong TV programs?

Sure, kids accompany mom to the store and want all the goodies in sight. Do we need a policeman to accompany them through the store and keep a watchful eye on mom, just in case she weakens? Maybe it would be better if the store is no longer permitted to sell “unhealthy” food products.

Banning toys from Happy Meals may seem innocuous enough, but so does that tiny crack in your windshield. If San Francisco gets away with the ban on toys in children’s lunches, what will be the next chink in the so-called adult armor of our pursuit of happiness?

George Zimmer, look out. That “Buy one, get one free” offer may soon land you in a cell next to Ronald McDonald, and you won’t like the way you look, I guarantee it.