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Wednesday
Jun232010

Latest Stupid Food Lawsuit May Lead to Ban on SpongeBob

If the bossy nannies at the CPSI get their way, it may not be long before SpongeBob is banned after bedtime.The Center for Nosiness for its Own Self-Aggrandizement may sue McDonald’s over Happy Meal toys.

The group, which formally calls itself the Center for Science in the Public Interest (“science” meaning “nannyism”) says ad campaigns featuring happy meals “violate state consumer protection laws in Massachusetts, Texas, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and California.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest press release stating this doesn’t say how these laws allegedly are broken, however, which makes the release’s subheading (“Using Toys to Promote ‘Happy Meals’ Is Unfair, Deceptive & Illegal, Group Says, Citing State Laws”) arguably more deceptive than any toy ads, because the toys are included with the Happy Meals, while the press release fails to deliver.

The CPSI press release instead focuses on ridiculous comments, such as this:

“But regardless of the nutritional quality of what’s being sold, the practice of tempting kids with toys is inherently deceptive,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “I’m sure that industry’s defenders will blame parents for not saying ‘no’ to their children. Parents do bear much of the responsibility, but multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents’ job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising.”

If Jacobson has kids he’s either a wuss parent or a liar. There’s nothing “nearly impossible” about telling kids they can’t go to McDonald’s. If you can’t do that simple thing, you also are too wussy to tell them to clean their rooms, do their homework, go to bed, eat their peas or stop hitting their sibling. There’s nothing inherently harder about saying “no” to a Happy Meal than any one of those things, and probably thousands of others.

Another quotation from the press release:

“McDonald’s makes my job as a parent more difficult,” said Sheila Nesbitt, 36, a project manager from Champlin, MN, and a parent of a six-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. “They market cheap toys that appeal to kids and it works. My kids always want to go to McDonald’s because of the toys. I try my best to educate my kids about healthy eating but it’s hard when I am competing against the allure of a new Shrek toy.”

Let us hope that the “project” Mrs. Nesbitt manages has nothing to do with national defense, because she appears to be a wuss.

Here’s hoping the Nesbitt kids do their homework anyway.

CPSI also complains that, allegedly, if you order a Happy Meal and don’t specify whether you want sliced apples or fries with it, you will be “given French fries 93 percent of the time.” The source for this is a link to an August 2008 CPSI press release that does not include a reference to this allegation, let alone prove it.  A link in that release to “an investigation” (really a PDF of sort of a long op-ed with a cover) looks promising, but turns out to contain no reference to or proof of the statistic, either.

Even if true, so what? If you wanted the apples and forgot to say so, they take the fries back and give you apples. I know this from experience.

There’s a simple way to stop kids nagging about McDonalds. Hardly ever take them there. When you hardly ever say “yes,” the kids don’t nag much because they don’t expect to win. Easy for you; healthy for them.  Or it is if you feed them healthy food otherwise, which CPSI seems to assume — until it puts out it’s next press release, that is.

Bonus fact: If you don’t tell kids Happy Meals exist, they won’t necessarily realize it for a long time. My own made it to first grade before they realized it, and yes, we let them watch television. They were clued in by a classmate named Alex.

Thanks, Alex.

If governments, spurred on by lawsuit-happy wusses, ban restaurants handing out toys, what’s next? Banning SpongeBob on cable after 8 PM because it’s difficult [cue tiny violins] to send a child to bed when SpongeBob is on?

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