San Francisco

McDonald's Jukes San Francisco's Toy Ban


San Francisco's ban on giving away a free toy with a child's meal containing a certain number of calories, salt, and other particulars is set to kick in tomorrow. McDonald's, the clear target of the ban, had a year to figure out a way to change its business practices. Seems like they used the time wisely, reports the SF Examiner.

The San Francisco ban on providing free toys to entice children to eat unhealthy foods goes into effect Thursday, but McDonald's plans to comply with the law by charging 10 cents a toy for their Happy Meals and donating the money to the nonprofit Ronald McDonald House.

(Catch that nice bit of editorializing about what's "unhealthy" there?)

SF Weekly parses the new McDonald's approach and reveals just how smart this move is on the part of the chain.

Now, in order to have the privilege of making a 10-cent charitable donation in exchange for the toy, you must buy the Happy Meal. Hilariously, it appears Mar et al., in their desire to keep McDonald's from selling grease and fat to kids with the lure of a toy have now actually incentivized the purchase of that grease and fat—when, beforehand, a put-upon parent could get out cheaper and healthier with just the damn toy.

Who's Mar, you ask? He's Eric Mar, the San Francisco supervisor who championed the so-called "Happy Meal Ban." But you may know him better as a's October 2010 "Nanny of the Month" award winner.

Kudos to the SF Weekly for ending on this punny note:

In any event, it appears the fast food chain's sharpie lawyers have McTopped San Francisco's legislators. Count this city's lawmakers as the latest among the billions and billions served.

Lots of grimacing in the general direction of the ban that thankfully now appears to ban nothing from Reason here. Chase scene from Bullitt here.

Baylen Linnekin is the director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and increasing "culinary freedom," the right of all Americans to grow, sell, prepare and eat foods of their own choosing. To join or learn more about the group's activities, go hereTo follow Keep Food Legal on Twitter, go here; to follow Linnekin, go here.

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  1. My psychic vibe is telling me there will be “gaming the system” howls from the usual suspects soon.

    1. I am suddenly and inexplicably seized with the urge not to tell any more bad lawyer jokes.

      1. Speaking of nanny-statism: Boise city council passes new anti-smoking ordinance, comment thread oddly free of “fuck you”s.…..qus_thread

        1. Idahos anti-nanny rep is vastly overstated. Pity.

          1. Yeah. Damn you, Mercatus! Now I’m stuck here!

          2. The Nannies are in the southern part of the state where all the Ag stuff is, the north is a whole fuck of alot more fun, but that has been an influx of people from places like CA and other nanny-states, CDA has a ton of the nanny minded, but go up into the hills around it, and most of the people really don’t care what the laws, they just do pretty much whatever they like.

  2. I especially like the angle where when San Fran bans this, they will be punishing the sick kids and their families that RMcD house helps. Fuck you yuppie nannies, why do you hate terminally ill people?

    1. Of course they do. Such people are unattractive.

    2. What’s a little bit of terminal illness when your soul is at steak?

      SF Weekly, are you hiring? I can pun and imply corporations only do evil, too.

      1. Mmmm, soul steak.

        1. It’s a little fatty actually.

          1. you can gnaw on soul-grizzle indefinitely, it never loses flavor.

    3. Nanny bureaucrats out-maneuvered by smart corporate lawyers? Who would have ever guessed?

      1. If people hate attorneys so much, they should stop providing them with opportunities to be weasels like this.

        1. Weasling out of things is important for a boy to learn. It’s what separates us fromthe animals. Except the weasel.

          1. “I dont know where you magic pixies came from, but I like your pixie drink!”

  3. Politicians should run our lives because they are smarter than the rest of us.

  4. What a stupid thing to ban. It’s not like the kids are buying the product–it’s their parents. We have to have ordinances to keep parents from buying stuff because their kids whine about it? Sweet Jesus.

    1. The parents were the only causal factor not mentioned in the video.

  5. Respect, Mickey D. Well played.

    1. Yes, McD’s response is awesome. I may have to get a Big Mac for lunch just out of respect.

      1. I just had my first Big Mac a week ago (a quarter-century into life) and now I am hooked. Why was I denied this sublime pleasure?

        1. The dressing makes the Big Mac. Its the main thing that I taste, anyway, and I buy it when I’m cravin that flavor. And the McRib for the rib-o’flavin.

          1. it’s the combination … iow, the whole package is greater than the sum of the parts.

            i , for example, admit to being a total cheese snob. i go to PFI and even at wholesale prices probably eat about at least $100 of cheese a month.

            however, the faux cheez in the big mac WORKS with the other ingredients. just like how the sauce, the shredded iceberg (god forbid), the bun, etc. etc. just all work together

            that’s why it’s been a big seller for decades and continues to be

            it’s timeless near perfection

            i love andy bourdain and he can rail about MCD’s all he wants (like many hipster snobs) but McD’s knows what it is doing. the big mac is awesome

            and fwiw, even in food-o-phile france, McD’s is VERY successful

            1. two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun

        2. The hell….?

          Why would anyone eat a Big Mac when Five Guys exists in this world?

          1. There isnt one within 2 feet of my home in every direction?

          2. I just recently discovered Five Guys and have been ruined for life. No other burger joint comes close.

            1. Steak and Shake…end of discussion.

              1. I have a McDs, 5 Guys, and Steak & Shake on the same block in walking distance from my house. Indiana, ftw!

                1. ^^^^^answers the question of whether Nirvana exists.

                2. “walking distance”, sure, if I wasn’t so full of burgers.

                3. From my handle, you know where I roam.

                  Kinda sounds like the east side Lloyd.

                  And for the record, to all you non-Evansvillians, the Evansville metro area is, indeed, the fattest in the country.

                  1. Damn squirrels! This above comment is lookin’ right at Rick.

                4. Hey Rick,
                  Rockville road on the Westside of Indy? That is the first Five Guys I ate at. I have been hooked ever since. One just opened up in my stretch of the woods here in Long Beach.

              2. Steak and Shake…end of discussion.

                I love a good Steak n’ Shake milkshake, but Mein Gott, they serve the most pathetic hamburgers (excuse me, STEAKBURGERS) known to man. Even McDonald’s doesn’t serve you a hamburger that thin.

            2. Five Guys is overrated, but maybe that’s because I live in Denver, home of the Cherry Cricket.

              1. Five Guys is probably the best chain (I ate at the original before they expanded too).

                Other one-off places have it beat though.

          3. Five Guys has good burgers, but their fries leave a lot to be desired. I’ve noticed In N’Out has the same problem.

            1. They make it up in volume.

              Seriously, 5 guys, I dont need 100 cubic feet of fries.

              1. I don’t need 100 cubic feet of fries.

                Often I want to order half of their smallest order of fries.

            2. I’ve had five guys (nohomo). I was not highly impressed. In N Out is some shit I wish I have access to. I’m not that in to fries anyway, I think “fries well done” might be a solution to the problem you describe.

              (I have spent some time studying the In N Out menu and I know exactly what I will order)

              1. 4 by 4. Animal style fries.

              2. Ever heard Lonely Island’s “No Homo” song? Hilarious

            3. 5 guys is also pretty pricey for what they are.

              1. That’s true, I end up spending over $10 on a bacon cheese burger and fries.

            4. To each his own. I like 5 Guys’ fries.

              I swear the burgers are laced with crack.

            5. The first time I have Five Guys was in Indianapolis, and the fries were great. But the ones in DC suck.

              1. imo, carl’s jr is pretty good amongst fast food burgers.

                in and out is very good, but they don’t have them round my parts

                1. Anyone ever have a Whataburger? It’s not good food but damn it’s wonderful.

                  1. Well-deserving of its position as a Texas Treasure.

                  2. Yes. whataburger is the shit.

          4. Had Five Guys for the first time the other night. The burger was okay, but dinner for two was damn near $20.

            There used to be a place in Columbus called Backyard Burgers. They had a blackened burger avec cole slaw that darn tasty.

            1. Swenson’s in Akron. Nothing beats a Galley Boy.

              1. You better fuckin’ believe it, fellow Akronite.

                The Galley Boy makes the Big Mac look like amateur hour.

    2. Word.

      I’ve been literally laughing to myself all day at the beauty of it all. What a lovely example of the shit our government does/creates.

      I will remember this and share it as often as possible.

      Straight the fuck up McDs. I just ate two breakfast burritos. On the dollar menu. Boom.

      I heart thee.

      1. I recently made a last minute addition of the burrito to an order of a steak biscuit and the burrito was quite flame.

        1. “Flame?”

          I am unfamiliar with your new-found slang, but if this term indicates “Fucking magical,” then we are in complete agreeance.

          FOR THE RECORD: This site doesn’t think that ‘agreeance’ is a word. I am deeply troubled by this.

          1. Dope, fly,… rad? Its like we’re just not jivin that well here. You did type “word” up there.

            1. Word. Rad is an acceptable answer.

              But I’m not groovin’ with that ‘jivin’ sans apostrophe. Ya feel me?

              1. I love when those of the “get off my lawn” set use the slang but try to church it up with proper punctuation. There’s no place to put an apostrophe in “yinz” such that it would be considered the king’s English. The same applies to its plural, “yunz.”

                1. I’m 24.

                  I don’t always insist upon grammarial rules, but when I do, I prefer to follow my own.

                2. What, or who, is “yinz”? I know Iowa is always 5 years behind in trends, but can someone fill me in anyway?

                  1. Some shit they say in Pennsylvania to make them sound more like uncouth knucledraggers.

                    The proper word is “y’all”.

                    1. Yes, “y’all” is correct. “Yinz” is just nonsense jibberish.

                      And how about a little love for Red Robin.

  6. The next item for the San Fran legislature, a proposal to ban donations to private charities. Problem solved.

    1. I wish they would actually float this around. Just to watch them destroy themselves.

  7. That Grimace McQueen toy is exquisite and I want one.

  8. I would have gone with the candygram, but I am impressed, nonetheless, Mickey D’s!

  9. Grimace used to have four arms, man. The McDonald regime’s genetics and eugenics programs put an end to that. The Mayor and police chief are both burgers, but Hamburgler still roams free.
    When will we liberate this land?

    1. The Mayor and police chief are both burgers, but Hamburgler still roams free.

      baptists & bootleggers.

      1. *burgerleggers?

  10. I think I have a McFlurry just because of this bit of stickin’ it to the Top. Men.

    And also McFlurries are delicious.

  11. Can we divert the Mexican border fence to surround SF and Marin County? It would probably do more good there.

    1. Why stop there? Give SF back to Mexico, assuming Mexico is dumb enough to take it.

      1. Then Nancy Pelosi can bother the Mexican Congress, not the U.S. one.

        1. We couldn’t do that!

          She might be kidnapped by one of the drug barons.

          1. I mean: Have you no pity for the drug barons?

            1. We could make them pay us to take her back. Deficit solved.

              1. eliminate the deficit AND bankrupt the cartel, two birds with one stone.

    2. shouldn’t the fence around San Fran be to keep the loons IN?

      1. That’s the idea. But you also have to fence in the wealthier loons in Marin County, or you haven’t really solved the problem. Okay, probably Alameda County, too. Jeez, that fence keeps getting bigger and bigger…

        1. What we really need are some sort of camps. I haven’t worked out all the final details yet.

  12. Hmm, I’m starting to think prohibition might not always work.

  13. “McDonald’s, the clear target of the ban, had a year to figure out a way to change its business practices. Seems like they used the time wisely,”

    They were TOYING with them all along!

  14. “It’ll work, I tell you; we just need to do a little fine tuning.”

  15. Don’t the toys move in interstate commerce? How can SF get away with this regulation?

    1. “get away” with it? I figured that would be the justification.

      1. iirc, the commerce clause doesn’t prevent local govt.’s from affecting interstate commerce.

        it allows the federal govt. to get involved in stuff that affects interstate commerce.

        lots of things state govt. regulates (rightly or wrongly) also affect interstate commerce.

  16. I don’t see how kids meal toys can be considered free in the first place. Kids meals aren’t particularly cheap, the industry doesn’t refer to the toy as a “premium” for no reason. It factors in to the price.

    1. TANSTAAFL is a basic libertarian premise. It always was a pitch to get the kids to drag their parents to Mickey Dee’s.

      Caveat emptor and all that.

      1. No, it’s not that. It’s to keep the kid quiet while the rest of the family eats.

        1. What the fuck are you smokin? Kids make some damn noise when they playin with those friggin toys.

          Some of the toys even talk and beep and shit.

          1. toys that shit cannot be good.

  17. Good for McD’s, with the added bonus of setting up a solid preemptive “why does SF’s local government want sick children to get less charitable funding” defense on future attempts at re-legislation.

    1. Given the mindset of the SF city government, I can see them banning the practice then adding a 10 cent tax per burger to be paid to the “Official SF Government Children’s Fund.”

  18. Even though I hate Mickey Dee’s crap food, I may make a point of taking a kid for a Happy Meal next time I’m in SF.

    Mickey Dee’s pwns SF.

    1. just gotta borrow a kid…

      1. I have a few I can spare!

  19. In the picture, is that a maple leaf under the McDonald’s logo? If so that would be a McDonalds-Canada happy meal toy and not affected by the San Fran ban.

    1. Is it a law in Canada that normal American things have to be branded with canadian markings? Wendy’s has that shit, too. I don’t see tiny American flags that often on things that say Made In U.S.A.

      1. Nah. It’s just a common corporate ploy to remind us we are basically a subsidiary, formerly majority British, presently majority American, but with the Chinese and Indian shareholding moving up fast.

      2. i think maple leaves just look cool. hmmm, maybe I’m secretly part cannuk, *shudder*. dammit, where’s my zesty mordants.

        1. Japanese maple leaves certainly look cool.

          1. Almost like some other plant but not as green.

          2. I thought so, too. Fuck me.

  20. This is one occasion where the Daily Show actually gets this right:…..y-meal-ban

    1. The Daily Show has been getting a few things right, lately.

    2. OK, that was pretty awesome.

    3. Great bit.

  21. So brilliantly excellent. I salute you, you magnificent bastards.

  22. And just look at all the free press that McDonald’s is getting out of this.
    Please, please nannies, don’t throw us in the briar patch!

  23. I salute you, mighty lords of McDonald’s.

    This victory was not without cost, though. A few weeks ago I bought my kid a Happy Meal at the drive-thru, and when we got home we discovered that they had taken out the standard small fries and replaced it with a micro-fries. Standing in for the missing fries were some cellophane-wrapped apple slices.

    Now, my kid eats a fresh apple just about every day. The last thing he needs is some apple that has been sitting around SLICED for weeks or months, whether it’s wrapped in cellophane or not. In addition, my kid is smart enough to know when he has been screwed.

    “Why did they do this? Why would they do this?” he kept asking, over and over.

    “Because the First Lady is a no-good bitch,” I told him, since my wife was not around to object. “The government scared McDonald’s into wrecking the Happy Meal. Because they’re all no-good bitches.”

    “Why? Why would they do that? Why, Daddy, why?”

    Apparently you can only get a real Happy Meal now by specifying up front that you don’t want the Lady Obama version but want the Classic version.

    1. The problem with “let’s put “healthy” things in the children’s meal” is, the kids just won’t eat the portions that they don’t like that much. My fries often went unfully eaten. Shitty assed carrots damn sure won’t be touched, and the kid will still get the toy.

      1. McDonalds is clearly in the pocket of BigCarrot and ConglomeratedApple.

        1. Conglomerated Apple.

          Humor. I recognize that.

          1. I prefer “Big Fruit”

            1. I knew you would.

        2. BigCarrot = rhinoplasty for Frosty

    2. “Because the First Lady is a no-good bitch,” I told him, since my wife was not around to object. “The government scared McDonald’s into wrecking the Happy Meal. Because they’re all no-good bitches.”

      From one Dad to another, let me compliment you on your parenting skills.

      1. Can’t wait for the report from parent-teacher conference day.

      2. He also loves Matchbox cars and the Need for Speed game series.

        We have already had many talks about how if the left wing and the environmentalists get their way, there won’t be any fun cars around to drive by the time he grows up and the Matchbox car company will go out of business.

        He’s only 5 so I’m not sure he gets it, but I figure if you start early on these basic concepts you can fill in the detail later.

        1. “EPA drafting new regulations for non-ambulatory toy vehicles.”

          Getting a whole pile of Matchbox cars emissions-tested is gonna be a bitch.

        2. I’m sure the Greenies would be happy with toy buses, bicycles or recognizable hybrids.

    3. Brilliant, Fluffy, just brilliant. I suggest that we all start publicly using the term “Lady Obama Version” publicly as much as possible, as in “I want the classic version, not the Lady Obama version.”

      1. Lady Obama… tells us what to eat.
        Indoctrinates our kids on Sesame Street.

  24. This seriously made my day. Now I love McDonald’s corporation whereas before I was just indifferent.

  25. I too despise any non-breakfast Mac D ‘s food. However today I’m going to walk past 6 Hipster run healthy-ish places to suck down a happy meal. But I might get the fruit cup substitution for added irony….

  26. I’m going to have a Quarter Pounder today after work to support McD’s for their spiteful brilliance.

    I’ve posted this before, but Happy Meals actually gave me a great opportunity to teach my kids the value of money. You see, almost all of the toys are just plain junk and the kids realize that about 2 minutes after getting it. So I always give my kids an option, you can have the happy meal, or just get the equivalent food and I’ll give you a dollar (that’s about the difference in price). They take the dollar every time now.

    1. Premium quality has gone way, way down since the meals of my yoot.

  27. Who’s that in the car? Mr. Turd?

    1. That’s funny, dude. Can I steal that?

      1. Everything reminds me of turds.

      2. Too late, man. I already did.

  28. Keep up the quality alt-text Baylen.

  29. Every SF politician should be forced to watch Penn and Teller’s episode of Bullshit! dealing with fast food. The take home point: high priced restaurant food typically has more fat, grease and calories than fast food. The war on fast food is largely snobbery.

    There is a particularly delicious segment in which a research takes a meal from KFC, puts it on china and give the items fancy names and serves it to test subjects. He then asks the test subjects to rate the food as he did other groups of test subjects served the same food in the original KFC packaging. He found that the china and fancy names substantially improved the perception of the food quality in the minds of the diners.

    The human mind is a fascinating thing.

    And SF is run by insane people.

    1. “The war on fast food is largely snobbery.”

      And the high-priestess of naming each tomato is on record:
      “But, above all, Ms. Waters was unable to bring home the point that it’s not that food prices at Chez Panisse are too high, it’s that food prices at the restaurants that feed most Americans are way too low.”
      Yep, those darn proles shouldn’t have cheap food!….._expensive

      1. Sevo,

        Except that Alice Waters didn’t say that… That’s the point that the article writer says she was “unable to bring home.”

        1. OK, she meant it. Try this:

          “HEMISPHERES: What is the one thing that we don’t understand about food?

          WATERS: That it’s precious. We need to pay for it. We need to pay for the food and pay the people who produce it. That’s profound and terribly important. We still think we can get it for free. And you know, it’s that idea that we have been indoctrinated to believe, that food should be fast, cheap and easy. And it’s really that kind of thinking that is destroying the world.”

    2. Yes, +1,000.

      The same San Francisco fags who get their lube-saturated thongs in a wad over fast-food chains are the first ones to breathlessly praise local greasebombs served at their many delightful Mexican, Chinese, and Italian local joints. Oh, but the local joints are cool, despite being just as likely to kill you, so they’re OK.

      If some taco truck in the Mission District were to hand out free toys with a carne asada burrito that’s smothered in cheese, guacamole, lard-refried beans, and lard-fried tortilla chips, there’d be a cute little human interest story in the Examiner showing smug hipster parents taking their kids to pick up a slab of aforementioned salted lard, and smugly murmuring to the besotted fag reporter about “how important it is to expose our kids to multicultural dining experiences.”

      I love the Examiner’s objectivity here:

      The San Francisco ban on providing free toys to entice children to eat unhealthy foods

      Yeah, that was McD’s big plan, all right. To force all of America’s children to be unhealthy and nearly immobilized by their own fat, BWAAAhahahaha! *eyeroll*

      1. mmm … Bay Area Chinese (and other oriental) food. I love mees some oriental food and the SF has the best and best variety that I know of. Still prefer some good TexMex to real Mex, though.

  30. personally, i have done the same sort of protest. i eat more mcdonalds since this SF thing came about. i am using the power of my dollar to vote FOR McD’s and fight agaisnt this kind of nannyism.

    McD’s doesn’t claim to BE health food, and fwiw many of its food choice are quite healthy AND of course health comes down to a healthy diet OVERALL. iow, eating an occasional big mac won’t harm you AT ALL. and people like them. it makes them happy. for a small price. that’s a good thing.

    it IS all about snobbery, because there are plenty of items i could order at a fancy restaurant that are at least as bad if not worse.

    i recently went to dinner at a very nice italian place and i had creme brulee for dinner, and my friend had a chocolate panacotta (sp?). do we really need to check the ingredient list? iirc, creme brulee is sugar, heavy cream and egg yolks iirc. oh, and a bit of vanilla.

    i fucking HATE food nannies. and i say this as somebody who pays a lot of attention to my diet, and routinely has to make weight for contests, which means bodyfat at 12% or less

  31. The way the oafish statists on SF Weekly are losing their shit over this is giving me a Schadenboner.

  32. I’m confused.

    Is it part of the law that McDonald’s can’t let people buy the toy without the meal?

  33. It will cost alot more than a 10 cent donation to pay for my neighborhood kids going to the Ronald McDonald House for cardiac issues. Save the kids, Save the resources, Save our Medical system & Save the human race. Whoever calls this a “Culinary” acheivement needs help. Compare this to tobacco please.

    1. “alot” is not a word, teach the children that.

  34. I LOVE that you included a link to the Bullitt chase scene. From now on, every post tangentially related to San Francisco should. And btw, the only way McQueen could get any cooler is if he was the one driving the Charger.

    (You know it’s true.)

    1. My step-brother had a 1970 Plymouth GTX back in the day, and boy, was I jealous, but of course if it had been my car, I’d be dead or still in jail I’m sure, seeing all the trouble I caused with my chevy.

  35. I’m a San Franciscan, and I think this story is honestly the most delightful thing I’ve heard all year! The icing on the cake? Even NPR dubbed McDonald’s “McSmarter” in their Marketplace story. Awesome.

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