San Francisco ‘Happy Meal’ Ban: Misguided or On The Money?

San Francisco bans Happy Meal toys

This story really took me by surprise on Wednesday when I read it.  To think that a city the size of San Francisco would make this kind of sweeping ban in the name of “nutrition” almost seemed unfair to the fast food chains like McDonalds and Burger King and Wendys…almost.

Turns out that the reason they were “banning” the Happy Meal was primarily because the city has now set-up nutritional standards for any meals that come with a toy and it turns out McDonalds failed to live-up to these standards.


The measure will make San Francisco the first major city in the United States to forbid restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat.  Under the ordinance, scheduled to take effect in December 2011, restaurants may include a toy with a meal if the food and drink combined contain fewer than 600 calories, and if less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat.

I gotta be honest here…I’m a little on the fence with this one (and not for the reasons you may think).

It’s not because I want all children scarfing down burgers and fries on a daily basis because that’s simply not the case.  I guess my concern is about where they decided to make this health food “stand” of theirs.

Are all elementary schools and high schools in the San Francisco area serving ONLY food that meets these exact same standards?  Probably not…and I would think the government would be better off trying to fix what’s wrong from within their own system than going after an outside source in some kind of “good food crusade”.

My son is a fussy eater, but after watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution with Sunshine earlier this year, there’s nothing I’d rather see in my child’s school (when he ends up going) than salads and chicken breasts instead of greasy pizza, burgers, and fries every day.

This is where the battle should begin.

Having said that, I’m certainly not opposed to this ban. Any of the fast food chains that include toys with their child portions can be “un-banned” by doing whatever they can to ensure the meals end up meeting San Francisco’s nutritional standards, which is something McDonalds is already trying to do with the city.

My fear, though, is that these restaurants will find a way around the ban…maybe by selling the toys separately so they don’t end up falling under the nutritional requirements.  It would be a pretty crummy way to get around it, but I can see it happening if an agreement isn’t reached by December 2011.

Either way, kudos to San Francisco for at least taking a stand like this.  I just hope that other cities look at them as being an example and start following suit…but look at their own school system instead of trying to govern what restaurants offer on their kids’ menu, which at the end of the day is a choice that REALLY needs to be handled by the parents.

Sometimes it’s the small things…

Ankle Biter was REALLY enjoying the play area at McDonald’s today. I was his first time there, I believe. The pure joy on his face was easy to see (and difficult to photograph!!).

There is nothing in this world that gives me more happiness than to see my own kids happy.

@JannArden, shamrock shakes, & my fat ass

Just wanted to throw out a weekend wrap-up on a few things…

1. I had an interesting tweet conversation with Sunshine on Twitter recently. I had mentioned that I was watching one of my guilty pleasures, Mantracker, and it was an episode I hadn’t seen before (turns out it was, afterall). Fortran had mentioned that he thought all of the episodes had been shown on U.S. television when Sunshine decided to pipe in with:

At this point I felt the need to tweet that she has her favorites and I’ve got mine…

Sunshine’s favorite singer is Jann Arden.  I need to state categorically right now that I certainly don’t mind Arden’s music.  Is it my ideal sound to crank up when I’m driving around town?  No…but I’m quite familiar with her music and have been for quite some time.

In fact, here is one of my favorite Jann Arden songs:

Good stuff, right?  ANYWAY…Sunshine had a pretty amusing reply:

We were both pretty entertained by this series of tweets (we normally entertain ourselves quite easily, in fact).  And I’ll be honest…I really didn’t think much about adding the “@JannArden” to each tweet that was made.  Turns out, Arden herself happened to be reading the conversation and gave me her thoughts:


Again, let me state that I’ve certainly got NOTHING against Jann Arden or her music.  It was more of an inside joke against Sunshine because she’s such a fan of Arden and was poking fun at my Mantracker man-crush.

Ahhh well.  At the end of the day, it’s all Canadian content so I guess it’s all good.  AMIRIGHT???

2. Speaking of Twitter, I actually decided to send yesterday’s blog post to the official Canadian McDonald’s twitter account (at least I assume that’s what it is).  Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed with the decision to not carry Shamrock Shakes in Canada.  But y’know what?  Twitter can sometimes be a bit more powerful than you’d expect:

Well whadya know?  Spelling notwithstanding, I’m actually kinda impressed.  Doubt it’ll go anywhere, but still…

3. I weighed-in on Wednesday this week, but I didn’t blog about it.  It wasn’t really any major reason, I just had other posts that I wanted to throw up on the blog instead.  I ended up at 215.5lbs…which I’m not really sure is a good thing or a bad thing.

Y’see, the “biggest loser” contest at work is done.  It was done last week, actually.  So last weekend I bought a new digital scale and really, I don’t know for sure if the results are 100% accurate or not in comparison to the other scale from work.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m going to re-post my “biggest loser” weight loss deal next week, once I can make a comparison from the same scale two weeks in a row.

Make sense?  Good…because I weighed myself this morning and was at 217lbs so I need to get my fat ass in gear if I’m ever gonna hit my 200lb target by year end.

4. It’s just been a good Twitter week, I guess.  I had no idea that one of my favorite local radio DJ’s, The Crawdaddy, had started following me.  I was further impressed when he added me to one of his #FollowFriday posts.  So I did what any rock radio listener should do on a Friday afternoon: request a song.

And sure ’nuff…The Crawdaddy came through for me:

Yep…I requested “Nothin’ but a good time”.  Kinda sums it all up, doesn’t it?

Enjoy your weekend!!

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…

…or something like that.

I know not everybody is familiar with the glory that is the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, but I revel in it’s minty greatness whenever I can.

For a few years, Canadian McDonald’s restaurants stopped carrying them. I assume it was because they weren’t huge sellers (of course, you need to advertise the frickin’ things if you expect to actually sell ’em!).

They returned in 2008 but, according to a consumer report at, there are no plans to introduce the shake at Canadian locations at all in 2010.

This, my friends, is an outrage.

I want my Shamrock Shake and I don’t want to have to drive 3+ hours to Maine in order to buy one.

Can anybody help me?

C’mon McDonald’s Canada customer relations…why must you torture me so?  What have I ever done to hurt you?  Because this totally sucks.