McDonalds Outsmarts San Francisco Government

Prohibition didn’t work, and neither does the “war on drugs.” Now McDonalds is teaching us that you can’t ban Happy Meals, even in San Francisco. The Happy Meal ban is the brainchild of the city where nearly everything is OK except what a person wants to eat. Men can engage in sex with other men and transmit diseases that will kill them, but parents can’t buy their children high calorie meals.

In August 2010, San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar decided that city intervention was needed to help him raise his daughter. As Mar later told reporters, he was shocked to discover a trove of toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals stashed in her room. Mar was the one taking his daughter to McDonald’s and buying the food — but he said that the “pester power” of a preteen was simply too much for him to withstand on his own. So he proposed that the city ban restaurants from including toys with meals of more than 600 calories that lack agreed-upon amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Mar’s “Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance” subsequently passed in November by an 8–3 vote in the Board of Supervisors — a veto-proof majority. Barring legal action, the Happy Meal as we know it will be verboten in San Francisco come Dec. 1. Eric Mar’s daughter has been saved.

I have two grown sons. They each have two children. Rarely if ever did we eat at McDonalds, even if they pestered the daylights out of me. If Mr. Mar wants to protect his daughter from the evil of high caloric meals, he shouldn’t take her to McDonalds. Most kids who want a happy meal don’t drive, so the only way they can get there is if their parents drive them and pay for the food. Mr. Mar wants the government to do what he’s incapable of doing. He’s a wimp.

Mr. Mar can be pushed around by his young daughter, but the folks at McDonalds won’t be pushed around by Mr. Mar and the other food Nazis.

As SF Weekly broke Tuesday, local McDonald’s restaurants found a remarkably simple method of sidestepping the city’s new ban on unhealthy meals being incentivized with toys. . . . Instead of giving away a toy with a Happy Meal, San Francisco McDonald’s restaurants will now require Happy Meal purchasers to make a 10-cent charitable donation to Ronald McDonald House in order to receive their coveted trinket. Ironically, a law intending to prevent fast food outlets from using the allure of toys to push unhealthy food may now be accentuating that practice. Prior to the city’s “Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance,” buyers could simply purchase a McDonald’s toy for $2.18. Now, however, only those who buy the Happy Meals are allowed to obtain the toys.

We deserve a break today from the 1984 crowd of food busybodies. Just for spite, I may decide to take one of the grandkids in for a Happy Meal in honor of the clever folks at McDonalds, a company founded, made, and built in America and often seen as a sanctuary for Americans who travel abroad and want a taste of home.