San Francisco Hates Your Happy Meals

While the Center for Science in the Public Interest hasn’t yet made good on its threat to sue McDonald’s for continuing to put toys in their Happy Meals, the city of San Francisco is considering a law that could have your children asking “where’s my toy?” the next time you head to the Golden Arches and other fast food joints.

The proposed law would forbid restaurants in San Francisco from using “incentive items” — toys, trading cards, admission tickets — for meals or menu items that have:

* More than 200 calories for a single item or more than 600 calories for a meal.

* More than 480 milligrams of sodium for a single item or 640 milligrams for a meal. (A typical fast-food hamburger has 520 milligrams of sodium.)

* More than 35% of its calories derived from fat, unless the fat is contained in nuts, seeds or nut butters, or from a packaged egg or packaged low-fat or reduced-fat cheese.

* More than 10% of its calories derived from saturated fats, with the exception of nuts, seeds, packaged eggs or packaged low-fat or reduced-fat cheese.

* More than 0.5 grams of trans fat.

This would rule out all McDonald’s Happy Meals containing hamburgers, cheeseburgers, small french fries; that leaves only some Chicken McNugget Happy Meals that come with Apple Dippers.

But wait — there’s more:
* Meals must include at least a half-cup of fruit and three-quarters of a cup of vegetables.

* A beverage may not have more than 35 percent of its calories fat-based or more than 10 percent of its calories sugar-based.

The sponsors of the bill say they aren’t trying to ban fast food or take away toys from kids. They just want to make sure that if you’re marketing a product to children it’s not doing harm.

“Our legislation will encourage restaurants that offer unhealthy meals marketed toward children and youth to offer healthier food options with incentive items or toys,” says the bill’s chief sponsor. “It will help protect the public’s health, reduce costs to our health care system and promote healthier eating habits.”

On the other side, the California Restaurant Association isn’t thrilled about the proposed law. Says a rep from the group:

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors seems to have an insatiable appetite for punishing the restaurant industry… Toy bans are only proven to disappoint kids, frustrate parents and generate headlines for ambitious politicians.

Earlier this year, nearby Santa Clara County approved a similar law, which went into effect earlier this week.

However, unlike the San Francisco proposal, which covers all restaurants in the city, the Santa Clara legislation only covers the small number of fast food joints in unincorporated areas of the county.

San Fran pol wants to take the joy out of a Happy Meal [Seattle PI]


Edit Your Comment

  1. hypochondriac says:

    So calories from sugar are worse then calories from fat?Or is just easier to reduce sugar calories? So will this apply to the monopoly game they have (if they still have it)

    • guroth says:

      So I guess that rules out orange juice right?

    • domcolosi says:

      They want to allow milk, I’m guessing

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Maybe not worse than the calories, but they do have completely different effects on your body. Fat keeps you satiated and has little effect on blood sugar. Sugar gives you energy for a short time, then you just end up being tired and hungry an hour later.

  2. Robert Terwilliger says:

    “I feel so right about the way I live that I want to parent everyone else’s children!”

    • Lollerface says:

      No matter how good or bad a parent may be it is very difficult for any parent to steer their kids away from crap food when the food is being marketed directly to them using toys as a prize. My daughter loves veggies, she’ll have a bowl of mixed veg for dinner, she’ll skip the meat entree and just eat her rice and broccoli, but if we’re on the road and have to grab something quick there is always an argument over where we go based on which toy is being offered at each chain that week.

      TL;DR, I don’t see this as parenting other children, but as aiding parents to better handle their won.

      • Lollerface says:

        won – own

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        That’s interesting – when I was a kid, my parents won every argument I ever tried to have with them about anything that involved making a purchase using money that was not my own.

        Because they were my parents. Brilliant tacticians, they were.

        • Lollerface says:

          I don’t lose the arguments. I just don’t want to have them in the first place. Ever try to buy lunch at D’Angelos while your kid is screaming she wants to go to Burger King and get the IronMan toy?

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            I don’t know if you have two kids, but if it’s just your daughter, I applaud her choice in toys. Iron Man is awesome.

          • pantheonoutcast says:

            Ever try the word “No”?

            So the government should regulate every person’s food purchases because you don’t want to be mildly inconvenienced?

            • Lollerface says:

              Are you inconvenienced? Is McDonalds lack of a junk toy going to ruin your day? I’m sorry, forget I said anything.

          • Kryndar says:

            Frankly I’d be less worried about using toys to get kids to want to go to Burger King as them marketing alcholism to children.

        • AwesomeJerkface says:

          You say that like cigarette marketing on little kids had no effect on them leading to smoking when they were older. Even if you say no, the effect will be there later in life.

          I’m not saying I agree with SF’s legislation; I think it’s a superfluous law at best.

          I am saying that it’s really narrow-minded if you think marketing to children can be corralled by a parent’s final purchase.

          Many things are marketed to children to build brand-loyalty in adulthood.

          • pantheonoutcast says:

            No, it can also be corralled by proper parental instruction and education. This is how it works: Child sees TV commercial for (X), Child asks for (X), Mom (who is intelligent herself) says no, and then goes on to explain to Child why she doesn’t want Child to have (X). Child either accepts Mom’s decision because Mom has already established herself as the voice of reason and the final word on the subject, or Child throws temper tantrum necessitating a punishment up to and including a spanking from Mom (and or Dad).

            But who needs that when we have The State to raise our kids for us! After all, look at what a bang-up job they’re doing with everything else!

            (And for the record, I do not believe that there is currently any such thing as “marketing cigarettes to children.” You’re free to try to provide an example, however, of a current cigarette advertisement or other marketing ploy to get children to start smoking.)

          • RickN says:

            His comments have nothing to do with the kid’s actions when they’re older and spending their own money. They have everything to do with a parent making decisions when the kids are , well, kids and don’t have the money/freedom to make their own financial decisions.

            My kids got restaurant toys when I, the parent, let them.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Is she that inundated with advertisements that she knows exactly what toy is offered at what fast food place? I don’t have kids, so I have no idea how aggressive marketing is for kids who are in that happy meal toys age bracket. If it’s TV, what about removing the advertisements from her viewing habits?

        • Lollerface says:

          Eh, it’s everywhere. Signs outside the restaurant, billboards, TV. And if she doesn’t know she’ll ask. “What toy do they have there?” It’s programmed. I’m not trying to make excuses for my parenting, I just think it’s a business practice that only adds to the difficulty of parenting.

          Besides the toys are junk anyway, 100% of them get trashed within days.

          • woahmelly says:

            Can’t you just buy the toys? I know my neighbor does this to keep the rebellion to a minimum.

            • CyGuy says:

              Actually, that will likely be what most SF franchises end up doing. Just charge one cent extra for the toy and everyone is happy.

              I take my kids to fast one once or twice a month. I really appreciate that they have tried to make the meals a bit healthier over the last couple of years, and think SF would be better off encouraging gradual change rather than using this punitive approach that serves basically to punish families that don’t have cars, and therefore probably have limited healthy food options to begin with. Why not start with just the requirement to include a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables. Why make them take items off the menu? It saddens me that the people pushing this kind of legislation don’t get that it is just as bad as banning same-sex marriage. Let people lead the lifestyles they want to lead. If you’re afraid people are making bad choices, then require fat and calories be disclosed on the menu, and fund nutritional education in schools so people know what an appropriate amount of fat and calories are.

      • smo0 says:

        Ohai. I was like that as a kid. Encourage this – when I started eating meat.. even when I was younger, I got really ill. +1 for genetics.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        tl;dr. Right there, that invalidates your argument, I think.

        And as for it being “difficult” to steer kids away from crap food. Unless little Billy or Princess have their own money or transportation, exactly who makes the food purchasing decisions in your neck of the woods? I’d recommend some parental discipline, really.

        They won’t “hate” you forever, just until the next cartoon, I promise.

      • Robert Terwilliger says:

        Aiding parents to better handle their stupid kids doesn’t come in the form of legislation, friend. It comes in a pamphlet or through common sense.

    • MaxPower says:

      That’s actually the slogan of San Francisco.

    • c!tizen says:

      “The proposed law would forbid restaurants in San Francisco from using “incentive items” — toys, trading cards, admission tickets”

      … what the hell ever happened to just telling your kids no? Or maybe, you know, be a parent and make your child lunch at home? Or, if it’s not possible to make them lunch at home, make the choice for them.

      And by the way, I know this may come as a shock, but your child isn’t going to drop dead or instantly gain 100 lbs from occasionally eating something that isn’t at the top end of healthy. They’re kids, you’re parents… figure the rest out and stop trying to ruin it for everyone else.

  3. coren says:

    The sponsors of the bill say they aren’t trying to ban fast food or take away toys from kids. They just want to make sure that if you’re marketing a product to children it’s not doing harm.

    …that’s EXACTLY what this bill does. Either you don’t sell fast food or you don’t give kids the toys. It’s not like there’s much of a middle ground.

    If you want to have some initiative towards helping kids that’s great – but don’t pretend like you’re not doing things when you are.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s cutting off the nose to spite the face. The group is so zealous about promoting healthy foods that it completely ignores the concept of moderation. It’s an extreme to those people – it’s almost like they’re implying you’re either with them on this or you’re a horrible person who wants kids to get diseases.

      • coren says:

        Oh yeah, they’re just as bad as CSPI on this. Like because some people have no self control, therefore no one has self control.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          To be fair, humans didn’t exactly evolve self-control when it comes to food. It’s not exactly a good trait in a species that often faced food scarcity.

          • Conformist138 says:

            Actually, it IS a good trait for a species that faces frequent food shortages. That is how we developed our “it’s here, eat it” reaction to food. Fill up while you can, you don’t know when you’ll eat again.

            Now, it’s a terrible hold over from a more difficult period in history since in the US even the homeless can find their way to a cheeseburger.

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        But it’s for the greater good!

      • Zini says:

        its not about kids having self control they have none its about parents having no control of kids. im sorry its the parents fault dont feed your kids crap and they wont be fat how is this complicated. I had happy meals once in a while as a kid or on road trips and im okay if i ate them every day i would not be. this is totally im gone take away fun to prove a point that fast food is evil and only organic/gm free food is good and if you dont eat it or feed your kids it your a bad parent

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It’s a lot like when someone starts a sentence with, “I’m not trying to be a bitch, but…” This means that they are indeed trying to be a bitch.

  4. cash_da_pibble says:

    …and another vestige of my youth goes the way of the dinosaur.

    Mind you, for me it was ALWAYS about the toy- NEVER the food.

  5. smo0 says:

    Yeah, why don’t they just ban McDonalds from opening up stores within the city limits…

    this is not unheard of… some of the more ritzy residential islands in FL do just this – no fast food, or walmarts…. just boutiques…. and non franchised restaurants…

  6. Mecharine says:

    Most McD’s I’ve visited (which would be only two locations) usually allows kids to buy the toys separately. McD could always just sell it separately. Kid’s will still go to McD’s though for the cheap food.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Or couldn’t they sell the kid’s meal with no toy and then charge $.05 more for a meal with the toy and say they are SELLING the toy rather than using it as an incentive.

  7. pantheonoutcast says:

    If I owned a restaurant in San Francisco, I’d start giving out a toy with every visit. It would be part and parcel of my restaurant experience: You sit at the table, you get a toy. That way no one could accuse me of directly marketing to children, I’d have a huge influx of new customers who would appreciate the novelty of it all, and consequently, I’d make enough money to move my business the fuck out of California.

    • PencilSharp says:

      …consequently, I’d make enough money to move my business the f*ck out of California.

      Abso-frickin’-lutely correct answer. And I would pile on by telling the SF Health Dept to bugger off, but I think that’s a given…

    • smo0 says:

      Depends on the “toys.”

    • oddnoc says:

      Make sure to fasten the latch on the Golden Gate on your way out (lest it strike you in the bum), and take your plastic toys with you. Buh bye! Bye now!

    • TimothyT says:

      Big state dude, SF is just one city and does NOT speak for the republic as a whole.

  8. swarrior216 says:

    Let the parents control what the child eats not San Fran.

    • Lollerface says:

      SanFran isn’t controlling what the kids eat, they can still eat all the BigMacs they want. SanFran is trying to stop the marketing aimed at kids enticing them to make poor food choices.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Who pays for those food choices? Parents do. Legislating good decision making just makes it easier for people to be apathetic because the government takes care of the decision for them.

      • dolemite says:

        It always starts with one thing, then ends up an avalanche. First they define what non-food products you put in the meal. Then they define what the packaging looks like. Finally they’ll dictate what the people can and can’t eat.

        • toolverine says:

          The avalanche is the huge increase in Type 2 diabetes, and morbid obesity across the nation. People can’t seem to take care of their own bodies and we all end up paying for their choices.

          • RickN says:

            I demand to approve everything you do. I don’t think you make good decisions and, therefore, we all pay for your choices.

            We’ll start with kid’s meal toys and work up from there…..

      • Sparty999 says:

        do you realize what you are saying? they are just trying to stop people from making … choices? come on.

  9. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    “A beverage may not have more than 35 percent of its calories fat-based or more than 10 percent of its calories sugar-based. “

    Damn, no more lard smoothies for happy meals!

    • stormbird says:

      And no milkshakes or Frostys.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Buckman! What the hell are you doing?

        – Stocking the pantry, sir.

        You forgot “like an idiot”, because you’re stocking the pantry like an idiot. What are in these cans, Buckman?

        – That one’s coffee. That one looks like cooking lard, sir.

        And which do you think we’re going to be using more often? The coffee or the lard? You think we’re all going to jump out of bed and have a big hot steaming cup of pig fat?

        – Well, if it’s a cold morning, sir, you might…

        • ArcanaJ says:

          We’ve replaced GitEmSteveDave’s regular coffee with Folger’s Crystallized Pig Fat. Let’s see of he notices…

  10. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    Would grocery stores still be able to give you samples on Saturday morning? At least gas stations would still be able to give away glasses, and banks could give you a toaster when you open a new account. Right? Right?

    • BigHeadEd says:

      Except that soon the nanny society will determine that oil companies = carbon emmisions and banks = predatory lending and therefore must also be penalized if they entice consumers through give-aways.

  11. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Doesn’t the beverage rule also rule out juices?

    • dumblonde says:

      I thought the same thing. Maybe they’ll fix it by saying processed sugar. Otherwise juice is out.

    • LandruBek says:

      Hopefully yes. The only reason to believe fruit juice is healthy is decades of propaganda from FCOJ manufacturers. If you want orangey goodness, eat an orange. (With cheese, if you like.)

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Juice is no better for you than soda. It may have a few vitamins in it, but other than that, it still does the same thing to your body. Whole fruit is best. This is why I just let my kid get the damned soda on occasion.

      • Kryndar says:

        THANK YOU. I was so pissed off when in my last year of highschool all the vending machines were changed to only have fruit juice or diet soda. Hmmm just as sugery or filled with artificial sweeteners.

  12. Mike says:

    Now look, I am an advocate for kids eating healthier meals, but come on. I grew up eating the occasional happy meal and I never had a weight problem. I loved the McDonald’s experience and the occasional happy meal is not going to kill an active kid.

    When people try to legislate like this it only backfires. We need some laws to protect us, but I just drank a icy coffee drink that is in no way good for me, should there be a law against it? What if I got my kid a milkshake, does that make me a bad parent? Alcohol causes death from people who drink too much, let’s ban it! There will be NO problems with that at all. OMG, did you know the Ghiradelli factory in downtown San Fran has little displays for kids, there should be laws against that!

    Seriously, this is lame.

    • Bativac says:

      I agree. What I wonder is, first of all, did these people forget what it was like to be a kid? Second, do they not think parents are able to just not buy Happy Meals for their kids? Third, are they not familiar with Prohibition and how well THAT worked, and how well it’s working for the “war on drugs”?

      If they outlaw Happy Meal toys, only outlaws will have Happy Meal toys.

      • AwesomeJerkface says:

        I don’t think they’re trying to prevent parents from buying anything. I think they’re trying to kill the brand-loyalty that develops for the kid.

        The rate of smoking among teens, for instance, decreased after the govt started to regulate advertising targeting kids.

        It wasn’t like parents were buying kids cigarettes, but clearly cigarette companies saw a real value in targeting kids and building brand-loyalty from the start.

        I kind of think it’s funny that everyone seems to be commenting on how this is supposed to stop parents from buying fast food for their kids. I don’t see how so since there’s no change in prices, just a change in marketing tactic. It’s not a law designed to stop anyone; just reducing brand marketing.

        • Kryndar says:

          The only brand loyalty I had as a kid for this kind of stuff was the brand of toy. I didn’t care which fast food joint it came from.

  13. human_shield says:

    To me this is like looking at the problem backwards. Kids aren’t being coerced into spending their hard earned money on junk food because kids don’t make any money. The real target is the parents, who are too tired or lazy to cook a good meal. The toy is to make the trip enjoyable for the kid. Removing the toy won’t stop parents from bringing their kids.

  14. Robofish says:

    Why is our government wasting taxpayers money on this. This might explain why California is broke

  15. marlathetourist says:

    Everyone with kids knows you never get the toy they want in the meal anyway. Happy meals seem to rarely make kids happy anymore.

  16. shadowhh says:

    Welcome to the nanny state…..

  17. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Step 1: Sell the happy meal for $.25 less.
    Step 2: Sell the toy for $.25.
    Step 3: Tell the bureaucrats and CSPI to suck it.

  18. Dallas_shopper says:

    It’s really hard to disagree with this because I find advertising to children to be reprehensible and the incentivization of “obesogenic” foods with toys is deplorable.

    However, I am beginning to wonder what they’re smoking in San Francisco. That law sounds ridiculous. Why not just ban unhealthy food altogether and be done with it?

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Or, how about the government simply stops capitulating to “advocacy” groups and faulty science and remains silent on the relative “health” factor of the foods that an individual chooses to eat or serve their child?

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        Because if they remained completely silent, a lot of people would remain completely ignorant of the nutritional content of what they and their children are eating. Restaurants have no incentive whatsoever to publish the nutritional content of their products, even though I think by law they should be required to publish them and print them on the menu. At least then you could make an informed decision.

        But San Francisco is beyond fucked up. Stories from there make me glad I live in Texas.

  19. Magspie says:

    As a parent, I think I would actually appreciate it if Happy Meals didn’t come with toys. My son doesn’t like McDonald’s food but he will ask to go there because he wants the toy.
    They aren’t trying to legislate giving junk food to kids they are trying to legislate marketing to kids. I hate that kids are marketed to everywhere they go. Yes we can say no to our children, and we do just that all freaking day long, but that doesn’t make it perfectly fine for our children to be marketed to constantly.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Can’t you just buy the toy separately? When I was a kid, I didn’t like McDonalds food, but I liked the toys, so my mom would buy just the toy by itself.

      • roguemarvel says:

        in my youth (not a child, but not an adult) If I liked a toy deal that spoke to my geeky side(backstreet boys toys, super hero toys, xbox games) I would just go with friends and buy them. it something you can do…good suggestion to parents who’s kids want the toys and could care less about the meals. Heck buy the toys without the kid and stick them in their school lunch!

    • Mike says:

      How are your kids being marketed to? TV. My wife and I ditched our TV years ago, and surprise! No marketing problems here. Get rid of the TV, trust me, you won’t regret it.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Or don’t let them watch live programming. Give them their favorite shows on DVD or sit with them and fast forward through the commercials if you have DVR.

      • smo0 says:

        As an adult, getting rid of the TV was the best thing I ever did…
        I was hanging out with a friend… and we put on spongebob – and every commercial break… everything was sugar infused crap being marketed left and right… bright colors and animations and the WOW’s… I almost wanted to go out and buy fruit loops, they looked good….

        Yeah, get rid of the TV.

      • Magspie says:

        Actually, no. We don’t have cable and my kids don’t watch any commercials at home. The fact that we don’t even realize we’re being marketed to outside of television is what makes it so insidious.

        • Mike says:

          If you don’t have TV and you are still having trouble keeping them from the lure of happy meals may I make a suggestion? Move someplace else. My wife and I have an agreement, if our kids become too hooked on the materialism of the west we are heading straight for the third world. Let them grow up in a village for several years. My wife and I both lived in the third world as teenagers and it helped cleanse of all the rampant materialism we have here.

          Seriously, if you already got rid of the TV and are still complaining it is time to move on, there are better places out there for you.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        And this will work perfectly, because children never have friends who influence their wants or ideas!

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Does your son who wants the Happy Meal use a credit card or his hard-earned cash after he drives himself to the restaurant?

      • smo0 says:

        I try hard not to judge parents, because I just get flamed for everything I say…
        so I’m just gonna go with this…

        Maybe I was an awesome kid, maybe I had an awesome mother… but anytime I wanted something that was on TV or flashing in my face at the supermaket check out counter… I would ask, I would sometimes beg a little.. but if I was told no, that was that. And my mom did just say no.. she would explain why it was “no.” Either we were tight on money, or it wasn’t good for me… or whatever the reason – after a few “growing up” years with that.. it boiled down to.. her just saying, “No.” And I pretty much knew why.
        I was never the brat who threw tantrums… so really… am I just the only awesome spawn in this planet? I doubt that.. so that just leaves the parents…

        You’re doing something wrong… train your kids to look beyond, take the time to explain… and teach.

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          I think one of the biggest problems is that parents want to be seen as their kids’ “friend” and not an authority figure. In parent-teacher conferences I’ve actually, on more than one occasion, had parents say to me, “Oh, but I can’t (say that / do that / act in an authoritative manner) to him – he’ll be mad at me.”

          Saying “No” (and meaning it) takes them to a different, sometimes uncomfortable level with their children, and I just don’t think that many parents are able to be in absolute control and to be respected all at the same time. So instead of wrestling with the dilemma, they take the east way out and capitulate to children. Who, ironically enough, will grow up to despise them for being weak and soft.

          • smo0 says:

            Oh god… the parent teach conference… I got the “glare” from my mother, that was enough….

            Gotta train them young, to fear and respect you. I prefer to see my mother as my mother, as annoying as her hour-long phone calls can be, or lecturing me about various decisions I make in life… if talking to her was like talking to my best friend, I would feel like I was missing something out in life.
            My father did the toss up of trying to “be my friend” then trying to flip on the parent switch…. no dice…

            I think parents are afraid that their kid is going to be the one to shoot up a school, or do drugs, or get (someone) knocked up, or get arrested… they don’t want to be THAT parent… but by giving into their needs, they are enabling the potential for those very things….

          • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

            I say no all of the time. The more you do it, the easier it is. I don’t give a crap if she gets mad at me or not. It really doesn’t seem to bother her though. I still get the standard, “You’re the best mommy in the world.” Sometimes she even says it within minutes of me saying no.

            It’s not as painful as people think. I too am honest as to why with her. Sometimes I tell here it’s garbage. Sometimes I tell her that the joy will last five minutes and she’ll throw it aside. Sometimes I’ll tell her we are dead broke. If she argues, she gets a privilege taken away and that is that.

      • Magspie says:

        Actually we hardly ever go to McDonalds. Where did you see in my post that I said I gave in? Just because he doesn’t get what he wants when he wants it does not mean that it’s okay that he’s constantly marketed to. We don’t even let him watch commercials, but he’s still constantly bombarded with advertising. That bothers me.
        From that you assume I’m the type of parent that needs to be his friend and is afraid to say no?

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          No, but I’m curious why it bothers you that he is “constantly” marketed to. Billboards, TV, radio jingles – sounds like perfect opportunities for teachable moments, no?

          • Magspie says:

            You come across as pretty smug, did you know? Anyway, it bothers me because kids aren’t small adults. They don’t process things the same way that adults do. Yes we discuss all these things and tell him not to trust advertisements and he’s pretty good about pointing out the way an ad might be trying to ‘trick’ him. But even adults are not aware of the extent to which they are swayed by marketing. Most adults will say that ads don’t affect them, that they can easily ignore them but studies show that this is far from true. Many of the ways in which we’re affected are subtle and insidious. It’s really hard to know the extent to which our kids are affected. I’m not extremely worried. It doesn’t keep me up at night, but I would rather the amount of marketing aimed directly at my son were kept at a minimum.

            • pantheonoutcast says:

              I think it’s important to have frank, open discussions with one’s children about economics and consumerism, but don’t understand how you think children are being “insidiously bombarded” with marketing – especially if they “don’t watch commercials.” You make those people involved in marketing and advertising sound almost evil, and I just don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I think given this generation’s almost infinite access to information, they’d be better able to conduct intelligent research into future purchases than any previous generation.

              For future reference, I prefer the associated connotations of the word “arrogant” to those of “smug,” actually.

              • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

                I think that if kids see so many commercials, that the parent is the problem. They need to stop using the TV as a baby sitter and teach their kids to play with toys and go outside.

                I also agree that parents just need to have some balls and say no instead of being afraid that their kid will be mad at them and not like them. And, teach them to think for themselves.

                My kid rarely asks for stuff because we don’t have cable/commercials. She watches old school cartoons on streaming Netflix.We have also taught her about sometime treats and that toys are mostly for birthdays and Christmas.

                Parents need to have some balls and just say no, and stop being so lazy about making healthy meals.

          • SenorBob says:

            You obviously don’t have children. It’s not surprising that the people here most opposed to the law are the ones without children and the people with kids are the ones who support it.

            I haven’t owned a television in many years, so I don’t really have to deal with a lot of advertising. I recently spent a couple of days with my two very young nephews and got to see first hand what they see and I was absolutely appalled! It’s a constant barrage of very slick marketing that their brains simply don’t know how to deal with yet. Hell, if fully grown adults are susceptible to it, how do you think a 6 year old is going to do?

    • shepd says:

      Then separate the toy and the food. The toys are cheap enough on their own to buy (IIRC, usually $1 or so around my parts, I’ve bought them alone occasionally) that you could easily buy the children one every once and a while. When they just get the toy you aren’t feeding them the food and they won’t associate it with the food. And they’re happy.


  20. BigHeadEd says:

    Government action always eliminates society’s ills: take prohibition, or cigarette taxes, or drug interdiction. Yep. Definitely the right approach.

    • your new nemesis says:

      Yeah, i’ll concur that gov’t intervention into everything is pretty stupid, but i doubt there will be a black market develop for selling toys with “food” or whatever it is mcdonalds thinks they sell

  21. brinks says:

    I eat pretty healthy, but there’s nothing wrong with the occasional splurge. My parents took us to McDonald’s sometimes as kids, and none of us were overweight. McDonald’s kinda grosses me out these days, but I’d be pissed if I had kids and they were deprived of the Happy Meals I grew up with as a kid.

    Lighten up, San Francisco, and don’t tell people how to feed their kids. Bad parents who don’t know what to feed their kids can still find unhealthy food elsewhere. You can’t stop it.

    • smo0 says:

      Honestly, the buck stops with the parents….

      why are there not more control over parents by the government?

      Answer… because they would lose that battle before it ever hit the newsstands, hands down.

      They are going after what they can – but we all know the truth, it’s horrible parents.

  22. stormbird says:

    The problem with nanny statists is that everything is just another step. They regulate the food in a kid’s meal in order to get the toy gives them the power to regulate the kid’s meal which gives them the right to regulate adult food (soda tax to generate revenue, no trans fat in NYC, proposed control of salt levels in every food in NYC). Supreme Court Justice Kagan was presented with a thought experiment: could the federal government regulate our diet to force us to eat a certain amount of vegetables a day? Her response was that it might be a stupid law but it could be allowed. I’m not a tin-foil-wearing conspiracy theorist but it concerns me that the government is starting to pass regulations for our own good that let a bureaucrat have more and more control over my body. You have the right to an abortion but not to a cheeseburger?

    • Stickdude says:

      “You have the right to an abortion but not to a cheeseburger?”

      Wow. If there was one sentence that could summarize how asinine these laws are, that would be the sentence.

      Well played.

    • ARP says:

      Actually that would indicate that she’s a conservative (read: not activist) judge because she is deferential to the legislature and would only strike down a law that was directly opposed to the constitution. So, she would be doing her job according to what most conservative politicians want. But conservatives don’t actually want judicially conservative judges that “just interpret the law.” They want politically conservative judges that are activist when the need to be and deferential when they need to be, depending on conservative political philosophy. Meaning, they’re worse than liberal judges because their hypocrites.

      Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts are just politically conservative, not judicially conservative. Despite all their tough talk of originalism, they’re just as activist when it supports their political views.

  23. dr_drift says:

    Wow, apparently lawmakers are also the parents of our children now. I mean, that’s cool and all. There are a couple of laws I’d like to propose, too, originally drafted by my own parents:

    The “I’m not buying you that sugary crap if all you want is that cheap toy, plus I have a coupon for this other stuff” law, requiring parents not to buy that sugary crap for their kids if all they want is the cheap toy inside. It also provides coupons that the parents use to buy a cereal that their kids don’t really like, just because it’s on sale that week.

    The “If you hit your sister one more time, I swear to God” law, making it a felony for children to hit, harass, or otherwise bother their siblings. The sentence is doubled, even tripled, under certain situations, such as long car trips and work-related picnics/outings.

  24. Garbanzo says:

    Are they planning to regularly update the law as the conventional wisdom about what are good and bad foods changes from year to year?

  25. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I’m in full favor of the return of playing with one’s food.

    • dr_drift says:

      You, along with the other supports of this legislation, are setting the stage for a dinnertime disaster! Our nation’s beloved children, once placated by the bits of colorful plastic generously supplied to them by our gracious restaurants, will turn to their FOOD as a plaything! Imagine what kind of America Applekid envisions… an America where dinner rolls are flung across the table! An America where mashed potatoes are squeezed out the tips of squirt guns! It’s an America in which the things we eat turn into that with which we play.

      Tell me, are you the one who’s going to send these kids to bed without a proper dinner? Are you the one that’s going to forget about the rest of your meal so that you can pick up those pieces of food that the dog isn’t allowed to eat before he gets wind that they’re on the ground? Are you going to take the blame for your son’s whithered, feminine body, created by his throwing of green beans instead of eating them?

      Me? I’m pro Happy Meal toys. I’m pro dinner. I’m anti-foodfight. And if that makes me your enemy, sir, at least I’ll know that, at the end of the day, I’m a proud American.

  26. dr_drift says:

    You, along with the other supports of this legislation, are setting the stage for a dinnertime disaster! Our nation’s beloved children, once placated by the bits of colorful plastic generously supplied to them by our gracious restaurants, will turn to their FOOD as a plaything! Imagine what kind of America Applekid envisions… an America where dinner rolls are flung across the table! An America where mashed potatoes are squeezed out the tips of squirt guns! It’s an America in which the things we eat turn into that with which we play.

    Tell me, are you the one who’s going to send these kids to bed without a proper dinner? Are you the one that’s going to forget about the rest of your meal so that you can pick up those pieces of food that the dog isn’t allowed to eat before he gets wind that they’re on the ground? Are you going to take the blame for your son’s whithered, feminine body, created by his throwing of green beans instead of eating them?

    Me? I’m pro Happy Meal toys. I’m pro dinner. I’m anti-foodfight. And if that makes me your enemy, sir, at least I’ll know that, at the end of the day, I’m a proud American.

  27. 108socks says:

    We hardly eat fast food out–it’s expensive and we have a gaggle of kids. But when we do, I order for them. Usually the non-toy food items. And if they complain and don’t eat it or like it (and as their parent, I do know what they typically eat or like) then inevitably someone else will end up eating it. And I usually don’t budge. Problem solved. They know what to expect at this point.

    Now if my husband or I, on the off-chance one of us is somewhere with one kid, we’ll let them order whatever we want. Then it’s a “treat”.

  28. haggis for the soul says:

    Since ketchup is a vegetable, no problem.

  29. waltcoleman says:

    Meanwhile, hordes of homeless and drug users continue to harass tourists all over Union Square and along Market Street. Glad you’ve got your priorities squared away SF…

  30. AwesomeJerkface says:

    Reminds me of the attack on kid-targeted cigarette marketing.

    • Stickdude says:

      Big difference. Tobacco is illegal for people under 18; toys are not. At least not yet.

      • smo0 says:

        The over all aim isn’t the toys… it’s the food… and yeah, make certain ingredients of the food illegal to sell.. that’s your case right there… as ciggarettes are bad for children (everyone for that matter) so are things like HFCS…

  31. ma1234 says:

    I was fed McDonald’s often when I was kid, maybe 2-3x a week, sometimes as a snack after school. I am a perfectly healthy 6’0″, 160 lbs. male. My parents never believed in strict diets, and its worked. Let the parents decide what the kids eat and nobody else.

  32. Djwei says:

    So are they not including the toys because they have too many calories? =D

  33. shufflemoomin says:

    What about the European tactics of giving toys, hats and balloons to children in McDonalds? It’s nothing more than tactics to draw in kids but thankfully I’ve never seen anything except the happy meal toys in North America.

  34. wickedpixel says:

    There’s actually a simple way around this – charge a nominal fee for the toy.

  35. Consumeristing says:

    San Francisco likes to compare itself as some kind of Eurotrash refuge in the states. Yet, I don’t see any European localities doing something this crazy. If Oslo thinks it’s too extreme, it probably is.

  36. Rehab Man says:

    Wouldnt this have a disparate impact? San Francisco is already famous for its “whitening” policies under the guise of nanny-statism. Sounds like one more reason for a brother to move to Oakland!

    • bjcolby15 says:

      I’ve never been to SF but judging from what you said, Rehab Man, it looks like the laws that the Board of Supervisors (city council in my neck of the woods, although our city councilors here in Beantown are smart enough not to attempt garbage like this) are designed to keep certain people (read: minorities) out and keep SF like a hipster doofus/sanctimonious nag/hypocrite city, with a twist of old-style Soviet Moscow for a little flavor.

  37. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    So, pot and gay marriage is okay, but putting a crappy toy in a kids meal, which has been tradition forever is evil.

  38. EdnaLegume says:

    not sure if this helps, but when my kids ask for a happy meal for the toy I do this… : “no”.

    I know it’s really an “out there” kind of approach but it works for me.

  39. JeremieNX says:

    This will be 39,875th reason why I will never ever live in San Francisco. Every week I hear about some nannyism they are trying to pass.

  40. Conformist138 says:

    Laws need to be made when it is reasonable to assume a practice or action will do real harm. Murder, rape, tricky accounting… These things hurt people in various ways. Dirty manufacturing plants, improperly cooked food… also hurt people. Toys in kid’s meals… eh… didn’t everyone grow up with prizes in their Choco-Coated Sugar Bombs? Or a trinket in Cracker Jacks? Baseball cards in bubble gum? Heck, for my age group at least, we grew up with these exact toys in these exact meals from these exact companies.

    Marketing aimed at kids is nothing new and giving rewards for consuming junk food is nothing new. The ability to gain weight from over indulgence was not blinked into existence by Conagra or Yum! Brands.

    You know what is probably responsible for more obesity than any Happy Meal toy could ever hope for? “Clean your plate!” and “There are starving kids in Africa!” My poor mother is still trying to undo grandma’s scolding, “You won’t leave this table until you finish every bite!”

    Oh, and comfort food made by grandma, there’s a nice way to round out small tummies.

    Yeah, the idea that tiny little cheap toys from a particular kind of business are actually responsible for the weight of any kids is retarded. Same with the idea of the brand loyalty. Fact is, eat the food very much and you might get hooked. Toy or no toy, this works on kids, too. The food keeps you coming back for a *fix*, not some idea slipped into your brain when you got a plastic Mickey Mouse at age 7. For proof of this, just look at the numbers of adults who never got fast food as a child (or even grew up totally away from it entirely) and still end up junk food junkies.

    This is just one more stupid stupid idea that will cost a ton more to enforce than it could ever be worth.

  41. asamtoy says:

    Zen fascists will control you
    100% natural
    You will jog for the master race
    And always wear the happy face

    Close your eyes, can’t happen here
    Big Bro’ on white horse is near
    The hippies won’t come back you say
    Mellow out or you will pay
    Mellow out or you will pay!

  42. Mike H says:

    The reason this crap is allowed is two fold –
    Big Brother, and,
    The Nanny State Syndrome
    repeat as needed for anything you do not like

  43. jeffile says:

    How in the world do local governments get away with passing laws as this? It obviously is unconstitutional. Do we really want John and Jill DoRight dictating to parents what their child can eat?