• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Outside the Beltway: The Day the Happy Meal Died

    There might be 14,000 things to be happy about, but there is one less reason in Santa Clara County, California: the government there voted to ban toys in Happy Meals.

    Toys that come in those delightfully colored boxes filled cheeseburgers and fries that have brought joy to millions of children will go the way of bottled water and salt, trans fat and soda pop, all of which have fallen victim to regulation-happy local governments.

    The reason? No, it’s not because the toys are unsafe. It’s not because they’re filled with lead or cause choking. It’s because, well, they’re an effective way for businesses to legally market their products.  The Los Angeles Times reports:

    This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on childrens’ love of toys” to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said [Santa Clara County] Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. “This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.”

    Proponents of the ban argue that using toys to promote the sale of high-calorie kids meals lure children toward eating unhealthy food, leading to obesity. But as Supervisor Donald Gage says, “If you can’t control a 3-year-old child for a toy, God save you when they get to be teenagers.”

    And that’s an important point. In Santa Clara County, the local government has assumed the mantle of a nanny state, presumed that parents are unable to make choices for their children, and restricted businesses’ ability to market to customers.

    Santa Clara County isn’t alone in attempting to enact absurd regulations over food consumption. The New York State Assembly is considering a bill that would prohibit “the use of salt by restaurants in the preparation of food,” and so is the federal government. According to the Washington Post, “the Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans.”

    Individual choice and personal responsibility have no place in the nanny state, and it’s anyone’s guess what the toy police will ban next.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Outside the Beltway: The Day the Happy Meal Died

    1. MJF, CT says:

      So tell me, does the 3 year old jump into the family BMr and high tail it do McDonalds and get the happy meal or is it MOM & DAD that take them there? This has to be the stupidest reason for putting in government regulations that I have ever heard of. Nothing but nannies trying to rule the rest of us! Why not just hand the government the keys to your home because that is what these nannies are doing. Now it's the Happy Meal, tomorrow it's the salt – where does it end? Every time one of these nannies cries for the government to step in, they invite more control on our lives!

    2. ACE SEZ says:

      Enviro-terrorists are the most gullible suckers imaginable—

      The sky is falling every minute of every day—what a way to live– terrorized by civilization– I wish they would just stay in bed and let the rest of the world roll by

    3. Billie says:

      Government insurrection of PARENTS. Just because some people have children for everyone else to pay for is despicable and childish, to put it on the country. Those who conduct the act are responsible and accountable to the result of their action.

      Government nannies are nothing but freaks for control and cowards of jealousy. Their authority of abuse and disrespect must be removed immediately. Telling the country "we have to sacrifice" while they waste tax dollars to pay ignorance on this frivolous discipline that is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

    4. Pat Sullivan, Dracut says:

      when is this insanity going to stop. as the previous comment stated,do the kids drive the cars to McD's no the parents take them. In defense of McD's they did redesign the Happy Meal with Chicken McNuggets, yogurt and Apple's – the parents make that choice for kids. The government already regulates the food source anyway, take Splenda off the market, it's one molecule from pesticide. They're killing us anyway. Everything we eat is loaded with chemicals.

      Kids are not necessarily "fat" because of what they eat. They are in the house, because it's not safe to play outdoors unattended. Child abducters and pedophiles are protected by our crazy judical system – you have to watch your kids every minute. If kids could be safe to play outside, they wouldn't be obese, and we would have less ADD disorders!!! I am so disheartened for my grandchildren's future.

    5. Larry says:

      I guess Disney will have to find somwhere else to market their movies. :(

    6. JulieD, Overland Par says:

      And this is why government should be kept small. The bigger government gets, the more power they will have over our everyday lives. Imagine spending time (and taxpayer dollars) on an issue as personal and benign as this one. People will eat at McDonald's anyway because people like McDonald's! Are they going to legislate against the Playplace next? I bet they will.

      Me and my vacation dollars will not be going to Santa Clara California anytime soon.

    7. Kenneth Halverson says:

      more people die from heart disease than anything else. If parents arent smart enough to figure this out then screw em. I for one am tired of gross fat chicks hitting on me and then getting angry when I say " how disgusting you fat bitch lose a person and maybe I'll talk to you". The people have to take a stand at some point against big business and their manipulation of our perception of food(advertisement) in the sixties Nader tried to create laws requiring food producers to list the truth about what was in their product. what we ended up with was a non informational list of ingredients. Tell me what does .knbhtrstesgxhchmgfcxtewx mean? I try as I can to eat whole foods, no margarine(butter,yum) I eat fresh vegetables( not some ice berg salad with half a pound of fake bacon bits) but real fresh veggies. Admittedly I cant always afford organic( how can the prices be so high without petrochemicals?)greedy bastards. I eat REAL farm raised grass fed beef( this is ranch country so the prices are comparable) and never waste my money on nutrient absent canned foods. But I cant afford organic Milk( I love milk) so I purchase milk from a local dairy( not organic but awesome non the less) We want good food but we dont know what it is. Many of my friends( I grew up here ) are total rednecks but when I cook they all ask if I can teach their wives how to cook like that, Its all in the food you use that makes a great meal, period. I would put my skills up against the best chefs in the world and win cause its about the quality of the food not the ability of the chef. No salt till it gets to the table, yee haw, woo hoo, got you by the short hairs now dont I.

    8. Scott Douglass Walke says:

      I suppose these misguided do gooders will next remove the prizes from Cracker Jacks! What next? …. Fruit and vegtable filled pinatas!

    9. Chuck says:

      The people who are most outraged are surely those who were taking their kids to McDonalds for toys, fattening them at the trough. Sure this sets precedence for future legislation, but if there wasn't a majority of American adults making such poor choices in diet for their kids and for themselves then conceivably this wouldn't be necessary!

    10. Bill Grant, Little F says:

      Al Gore will be disappointed.

    11. Dexter60, San Franci says:

      Santa Clara County certainly needs to have the people there immediately deliver at least a ton of Preparation H as part of a temporary cure for their local government's manifest problem — which should get them to a time-out until an election, when a needed surgery can provide a permanent and final relief.

    12. Pennsylvania says:

      I guess now they’lll have to stop marketing beer using good looking dames.

    13. Teresa Redmond, Fire says:

      Seriously?!? Is this the most important thing that the Santa Clara County Govt has to deal with? I want to come live in your county. You obviously don't have any serious problems, no crime, homelessness, economic issues and all the myriad of issues that the rest of us are dealing with. You must be really bored to start picking on small children and their fun. The reality of life is that parents feed their children crap all the time even if they've been educated better. I know, I have college educated kids who were raised on home cooked balanced meals, but they feed their children whatever is most convenient, and that's not always the healthiest thing. To give McD some credit they do offer better choices these days and the parents should be making those. What it comes down to is the parents, not the children, not the toys , not McD and definitely NOT the government. I'm also tired of hearing from those who claim their taxes are paying for the treatment of obesity. Get over yourselves, like you don't have any problems or hangups of your own.Whe should all be so perfect!

    14. Valerie Jennings says:

      That is exactly the problem with this ban. It takes away the rights and responsibility of parents to make the correct choices for their children. This matter should not be taken over by the government and the parenting duties should be left where they belong. According to a survey conducted by the California Restaurant Association, 87% of Santa Clara County residents feel lawmakers are not better informed to make decisions about what kind of food sold in restaurants is healthy and nutritious. We need to let the government know about our views against this legislation before it gets passed elsewhere.

      Eric Mar, member of the Board of Supervisors for the City and County of San Francisco, is asking for legislation similar to Santa Clara County’s happy meal toy ban. Call and tell him NO.

      Eric Mar

      415-554-7410

      Eric.l.mar@sfgov.org

      Mar’s request to ban kids meal toys can be found in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/

      A leading kid-focused marketing agency for the restaurant industry, Creative Consumer Concepts (C3), has taken a stand on this issue. Bob Cutler, CEO, states that “unfortunately, banning kids meal toys from restaurants will not resolve childhood obesity. C3 has been educating, advocating and executing healthy food options for kids and parents and will continue to commit to supporting this issue.”Read more in their position paper on the toy ban: http://jenningssocialmedia.com/downloads/C3.SANTA

    15. Pingback: The Daily Show Mocks San Francisco’s Happy Meal Ban | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    16. Pingback: Chicago School Bans Kids from Bringing Lunches from Home | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    17. Pingback: Nanny state on steroids: Chicago school bans kids from bringing lunch … from home « Sister Toldjah

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×