The Happy Meal Under Attack


The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is threatening to sue McDonald's if the burger giant doesn't stop selling Happy Meals, one of 1979's greatest contributions to all mankind. In typical nanny-statist hype, the CSPI likens McD's to a child molester:

"McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," CSPI's litigation director, Stephen Gardner, said in a prepared statement. "It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction."…

"Multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents' job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising," [CSPI director Michael Jacobson] said.

Scott Stein at the excellent blog When Falls the Coliseum points out something that Reason's Jacob Sullum has in the past:

Saying "no" to your kid who wants a third cookie is easy. Telling your kid that you're not getting him the Happy Meal is easy. Parents have choices to make, but they aren't impossible choices. Choosing to get your fat child the apples and not the french fries is easy. Choosing to get him low-fat milk instead of soda is easy. Choosing not to go to McDonald's in the first place is easy. These are the easy parts of being a parent — making these choices is a parent's job.

If parents don't do it, don't make excuses for them by saying they had an impossible choice. Sophie had an impossible choice. Parents at the fast-food counter don't.

Whole thing here.

Sullum on saying No to kids.

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  1. Don’t you DARE suggest parents might have some degree of responsibility.

    1. Unless their kids are drinking under age. Then hold them entirely responsible.

  2. These people literally make their living taking candy and toys from children. Way to go there Stephen Gardner. When you were a kid did you tell your parents and teachers “when I grow up I want to take candy and toys from children”?

    1. “”These people literally make their living taking candy and toys from children. “”

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. Because it’s true.

  3. Now, now, let’s not get carried away with this “parental responsibility” thing. Everybody knows that individual choice leads to anarchy (the bad kind). Here’s a simple flow chart:

    Step 1: Parental responsibility
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: OMG we’re in SOMALIA!!!

    1. Wow Thoreau. You are a blast from the past. I was just talking about you the other day. Welcome back.

      1. It’s your fault that I’m back. You said “I wish thoreau was here” in the physics thread, so Jesse cast “Summon Physicist”* and I appeared. And then the conversation stopped there.

        *Just a 4th level spell, but only allowed if you aren’t aligned with the URKOBOLD.

        1. Interesting. I want to know who keeps throwing the “summon the Edward and Dan T” spells.

          1. No spell required.

            They are 33&1/3rd level spinners who just keep coming around.

        2. Warty’s link to the Feynman “Cult Cargo Science” in that physics thread gets my vote for best science link from Reason this year.

          And the added bonus is it summoned back thoreau.


        3. So, does this persistent rash I have mean that some noob keeps throwing a low-level “Banish Lawyer” spell?

          1. Nope, it wasn’t from a noob. I’ll bet your opposition med-mal colleagues are to blame for that one. Here have some groovy analgesic cream. (Waves magic scalpel).

          2. Dude. Banish Lawyer is like a eigth level spell, and it cost you 1 Con point permanently.

            1. Banish Lawyer spell will only banish one lawyer.

              Two more immediately appear in place of the first.

          3. Didn’t you say payment in kind wasn’t a problem?

    2. Hey, big T*! Glad to see you’re back. Stick around.

      *Didn’t it used to be “thoreau”?

  4. “Grimace” comes from the face he makes when he shits out the bones of children.

    1. No, it comes from the face he makes when he rapes you. Or did you block that out? And to think of what the Hamburglar did to you…his nickname of “Turdburglar” is for a reason.

      1. Noes! Doan be stealen mah turdz!

        1. Robble Robble Robble

          1. It wasn’t so disturbing until you broke out the sound effects.

          2. [has Sybil-style breakdown from recovered memories]

    2. pimping ain’t easy

  5. Who exactly is Center for Science in the Public Interest? Is it a committee of two with an impressive name and an ability to promuglate press releases? Or, perhaps, a group that is funded by lawyers hoping to get paid-off by settling out of court with McDonalds.

    This group, whoever they are, are the food equivelant to PETA. Eff’them

    1. Basically a bunch of leftist technocrats.

      You know, people with science degrees who think they know better than the plebs.

      1. Proof that all forms of leftist claptrap are dressed up as “science”.

    2. I’m pretty sure they’re one of the pseudopods of the Nader PIRG amoeba.

  6. God these people are retarded. When my daughter first asked me to buy something for her at the store, I calmly explained that we can’t buy everything we want. She’s now almost four and when we walk through a store or watch commercials on TV she virtually never asks me to buy her things. Funny how someone who hasn’t even turned four has the maturity to understand we don’t need to buy things just because it’s in a shiny box or a commercial tells you to but yet the CSPI apparently doesn’t.

  7. “Multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents’ job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising,”

    How do you even fucking parody this idiocy? These retards can’t tell McMahon & Tate from Stalin and Hitler. “They advertise, and you obey!” I suppose this is the end result of reading shit like Manufacturing Consent.

    1. By and large, the majority of the population – both left and right – has bought into the idea that personal responsibility is not only a bad thing, but an impossibility in the face of corporate/union/capitalist/drug lord/Bavarian Illuminati power.

      1. You leave the Bavarians out of it! Also, wo ist mein Bier?

      2. once they usurp your personal responsibility from you, they own you

    2. It’s projection. They are just self-aware enough to realize how complicit they are in accepting a herd mentality, but not so much they they can break free. They compensate by lashing out at the “influenced” without examining their own weakness in the face of influence.

  8. Metabolic syndrome is healthier than fascism.

    Zero carb FTW.

  9. McDonald’s combats childhood obesity. On rainy days, or nasty 99+ high humidity days, my toddlers are running laps through the Playland while I drink iced coffee from McCafe. Afterwards, the kids split a happy meal.

    The only way to make it better is to serve beer and occasionally degrease the play-land.

    1. The grease makes the slide faster.

  10. Now that I’m back, let me just say that threaded comments suck.

    1. So instead of complaining, why don’t you just physics them away?

    2. Embrace the chaos.

      It’s good to have you back.

      1. It’s good to be back. I was hanging out at DramaBlogs ScienceBlogs under a different name. Not as much fun as this place.

        But their comments aren’t threaded. I’m just saying.

        1. Welcome back, Professor.

          Liked your characterization of SB. Heh.

    3. Threaded comments rule!

  11. When I was five, I was in the bathtub playing with the toy Klingon ship from my Star Trek: The Motion Picture Happy Meal, and it disappeared. I figured I’d lost it under the bubbles somehow, so I splashed around looking for it, but I didn’t see it anywhere. Then it decloaked way up in my ass.

    1. Maybe CPSI is onto something with the molestor analogy.

    2. it was crowded in there

  12. Now that I’m back, let me just say that threaded comments suck.


    (And not that faggy golf shit, neither.)

    1. I am sure you meant to say “soccer” in there.

      1. Soccer fans don’t clap, they play the vuvuzela.

  13. Anyone remember when Grimace had four arms?
    I think CSPI had all the four-armed ones euthanized as impure.

  14. Damnit, I shouldn’t be posting threaded comments and contributing to the problem I lament.

  15. Sophie’s choice was impossible? Tough, yes. Not impossible. A choice by its very nature makes at least two things possible. Sorry to be such a stickler, but, fuck Mr. Gardner and his organization. I am a fatass. Both my (grown) sons are thin. And they ate more happy meals than I care to remember. My wife is thin. Genetics is a gas.

    1. Yep.. re skinny kids from skinny mother…stocky dad.

    2. I’m often a usage stickler, too, but words can be used non-literally. When I say that a movie is “incredible,” it doesn’t have to mean that I don’t believe it. It could just mean that I liked it a lot. That doesn’t make the use incorrect. There was a show you probably heard of called Mission Impossible — didn’t they complete the mission each time? I guess they should have called it Mission Very Difficult, since it clearly wasn’t impossible. Mission Very Difficult doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Anyway, it was a pretty popular show, so the non-literal use of “impossible” to mean “terribly difficult” is pretty much established in popular culture. The extreme of “impossible” is used to show that it as difficult a task as possible. Same thing with an “impossible” situation. Also, “unimaginable” sadness. You might be able to imagine it. It’s still okay to write it.

      1. wicked good point

  16. “Multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents’ job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising,” [CSPI director Michael Jacobson] said.,/i>

    But somehow, with his superhuman intellect, our glorious defender Mister Jacobson has managed to pierce the fog of CorporateMindControl and now seeks to save us. Because we’re too weak and stupid to help ourselves.

    Fuck you, bub. “Science” my ass.

  17. stupid keyboard

  18. To our laywer types, what possible standing would CSPI have to sue Mac Donald’s? I don’t get it.

  19. It’s projection. They are just self-aware enough to realize how complicit they are in accepting a herd mentality

    They have no problem with herds, per se; they just don’t want helpless feeble-minded little old you get get tricked into hanging out with the wrong herd.

  20. Option 3 is to just buy the toy ($1 – $2 depending on the giveaway). We do that when they are having a toy giveaway the kids are interested in but no one want to eat there. Also it’s a good way to get fairly cheap birthday party prizes.

  21. Selling toys to children is the same as being a creepy potential pedophile. Got it.

    Please tell me we are not so far gone that any law suit about this will not be laughed out of court.

    1. Let’s put it in concrete terms to Mr. Jacobson: You can either take your kid to Mickey-D’s for a standard Happy Meal or you can have Chester over there in the raincoat drag him off to the park restroom to be repeatedly sodomized. Which do you pick, Mr. J?

      1. That is an impossible choice!

  22. Lest we forget, Burger Chef marketed the Fun Meal long before McDonald’s had their version. Anyone remember them?

    1. I remember Burger Chef. My mom let me ride my bike up there on Saturdays to get a hamburger. It was one of my first regular forays out into the world without parents.

      This was before Fun Meals, though.

    2. I do!!!

      I loved going there for the fun meal.

    3. The only kids’ meal that gave away square records!

  23. Now that I think of it, toy stores should be banned from selling toys to children too. One of those toys might portray a character used in advertising for some evil corporate food item.

    1. That shit’s coming, man. Perhaps in my lifetime even. Look at the Brits…

  24. Choosing to get your fat child the apples and not the french fries is easy.

    You might as well get them a candy bar; it has nearly as much sugar.

  25. Exactly what legal standing does CSPI have to sue McDonalds for this?

    1. IANAL, but would suspect they’re probably bringing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Teh Children of America(tm). They would need at least one actual child (parent, really), but shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one in those circles.

      Remember, progressives think that telling children “no” is low-grade child abuse (or pretend to believe that to justify their lack of parenting skills), so…

  26. “Multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents’ job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising,” [CSPI director Michael Jacobson] said.

    I’ll reiterate what I said in Jacob’s post….I can only conclude that Michael Jacobson is one of the shittiest parents in the history of mankind. So shitty, in fact, that it behooves society to cull his genetic code from the pool.

  27. Don’t worry, I’m sure we will still be allowed to have fun in the future. It will just be government-approved fun that has been thoroughly evaluated for safety by the appropriate panel.

  28. It will just be government-approved fun that has been thoroughly evaluated for safety by the appropriate panel.

    Like the difference between sitting at the edge of the kiddy pool wiggling your toes in chlorinated water, and climbing a tree and plunging into the river from an overhanging branch.

    1. Correction: Wiggling your toes in the kiddy pool while being harangued by some Chomskyite fist-fucker about how you’ve been conditioned to like swimming by the machinations of Big Chlorine.

  29. The CSPI are food trolls, inconsequential nobodies who say stupid shit to get attention and publicity.

    1. The real problem is the media gives them millions of dollars worth of free PR, and that lawsuit against Happy Meal promotional tie ins are real enough.

      Some days, I envy the loser pays all aspect of the British courts. There is really no basis to do anything but dismiss this frivolous lawsuit. In that system, if I was in Ronald McDonald’s shoes, I would add so many expenses to the legal counsel bill, include a few pseudo scientific surveys that mirror the CSPI work, that it would bankrupt the motherfuckers when they receive the bill.

      1. bleh,

        is real enough. Original draft I included the suit on Chinese take out they threatened years back. I’m still angry over that one. Take away my dumplings and sesame chicken, I’d waste about ten thousand motherfuckers before they could take me down.

  30. McD’s should tell them to fuck off.

  31. Ironic that the Mad Scientists complain that “Multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents’ job nearly impossible…” while these same nanny-staters really believe that no non-Haaarvaard grad is capable of raising, or should be allowed to raise a child in the first place.

  32. CSPI is a bunch of attention-whoring morons, of course. However, sometimes I think you guys underestimate how much trouble aggressive advertising towards children can make for parents who don’t want to buy the product for whatever reason. If it were easy for parents to say no, these companies wouldn’t direct so much advertising at the children, they would direct it toward the parents.

    It’s not like they just have to say no once. Often, they have to say no 20 times a day. And the time-tested and effective methods of ages past for encouraging children to shut up about the Happy Meals will land one in a jail cell these days.

    1. Kids have annoyance built in to them, as Heinlein put it, the motherly instincts are the only thing that keeps us all from being drowned at birth. If it wasn’t Happy Meals, kids would be making their parents lives Hell in other ways.

    2. It is easy to say ‘no’. It’s just easier to say ‘yes’. It’s one of those things where the more you say ‘no’, the less you have to say ‘no’. I have five kids and don’t believe I have ever bought them a Happy Meal. They don’t strike me as a good value, even considering the incredible value of the crappy toy.

  33. Organisations like CSPI, and….Atlas Shrugged has permanently conditioned me to recoil in disgust and suspicion when I encounter the term “public interest”

  34. Not to mention CSPI is whoring with the establishment and with agri-business for wheat, gluten and all the other bad crap that the government and big agri business have been pushing for 40 years now.

    When the knowledge thats in the blogosphere and in enthusiast circles finally becomes mainstream that Fats are good for you (saturated fat like meat, eggs), butter is good, and bread, pasta, rice, cereal is reallly bad for you, I hope the wave of suspicion and disgust blows away bullshit artists like CSPI, and the monstrous corporatist USDA-FDA-Agri-business combine.

  35. Funny story about Jacobsen…..a few years ago he tried to get caffeinated coffee banned from the offices of CSPI HQ. The outcry from his employees was so intense that they damn near mutinied.

    Also….any parent who can’t handle telling their children ‘no’….or who can’t handle policing what their children eat or watch on TV…..they just don’t have what it takes to be parents. Period.

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