Nanny State

Artery Constrictor Hugo


According to Sunday's New York Times, McDonalds is backsliding on its commitment to making America a healthier place with the introduction of the "Hugo", the inexplicably renamed "supersize" soft drink:

Remember Supersize sodas? They're back, except this time the chain is trying a new name. Meet the "Hugo," a 42-ounce drink now available for as little as 89 cents in some markets. A Hugo soda contains about 410 calories.

McDonald's might as well have called it the Tubbo.

Bada-bing! But what really gets the Times' dander up is the burger giant's mustache-twisting marketing department who are—horror of horrors—targeting non-English speakers:

Making matters worse, Hugo ads are available in several languages, making sure that minorities—who are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic—are aware of the budget beverage.

Making matters worse? Is McDonalds actually trying to sell its devil products to minorities "disproportionately affected" (i.e. Hispanics) by the "obesity epidemic"? I thank the Sulzberger family for bringing this scandal to public attention.

(Note: According to this 2005 University of Iowa study, "obesity is increasing in all races, all income categories, and at a faster rate with people in higher incomes.")

These developments are especially disturbing, according to the Times, when one considers the company's successful introduction of its "health choices" menu:

The chain has spruced up its restaurants, improved its advertising and introduced menu items that have helped to reshape its image and reinvigorate sales.

Premium salads and apple dippers brought moms back. Chicken wraps lured people during off-hours; higher-quality coffee turbocharged breakfast business.

McDonald's stock price has quadrupled in the last four years, and the company has reported positive same-store sales, an important industry measure, every month since April 2003.

But read further and the Times quickly switches gears, saying the sliced apple market has actually done little for the company's bottom line:

Sales of healthier items on the dollar menu remain relatively weak. "Double cheeseburgers always outsold salads 10 to 1," said John Glass, an analyst at CIBC World Markets. But salads and yogurt provide a halo effect that makes the dollar menu more palatable. The Hugo is harder to swallow.

In fairness, the article does allow a single dose of sanity to intrude on the "corporations are making us fat" narrative—courtesy of a sinister food industry stooge, natch:

"They do not have to go there," said Bob Goldin, executive vice president for Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. "Common sense has to prevail. No one has to drink that big of a serving."

Full story here.