Hey kids, here’s a fun pop quiz! What do the following things have in common?
Little Orphan Annie
If you guessed that they are all products for kids which offer some sort of toy or prize either inside the box or for collecting boxtops or labels–you are correct!
For at least half a century (if not longer) advertisers have been marketing directly to children by offering swell toys and prizes if only the kids will persuade Mom to buy items like those above. But Monet Parham of San Francisco is only suing McDonalds, oddly enough. Why not sue Pepsico, owner of Cracker Jacks, or Kelloggs, General Mills, or Post Cereals?
In fact Ms. Parham, who is a regional program manager working for the state of California on child nutrition matters, is suing McDonald’s on behalf of her daughter to force them to stop offering toys with Happy Meals, because, as she says:
What kids see as a fun toy, I now realise is a sophisticated, hi-tech marketing scheme that’s designed to put McDonald’s between me and my daughters.
‘For the sake of other parents and their children, I want McDonald’s to stop interfering with my family.
And as far as Happy Meals, why now? McDonald’s has been offering Happy Meals for over 30 years. Ms. Parham’s daughter is six years old… she has probably been of “Happy Meal age” for at least two years.
According to McDonald’s, a Happy Meal consists of a burger or chicken nuggets, a small portion of french fries or sliced apples, and a choice of low-fat milk or apple juice. Yet Ms. Parham is not suing to change the contents of the food in the Happy Meal, which her lawsuit claims is unsuitable for young children, but simply to halt the inclusion of a toy with the meal.
If she were really concerned about the children, shouldn’t she be pushing for McDonald’s (and by extension, all other companies which market less-than-healthy food to kids) to drop the fatty/sweet/salty stuff? Shouldn’t a stupid toy be the least of her worries?
But no, the problem is not the food, evidently. The problem is that she doesn’t want to say “no” to her kids when they ask for Happy Meals.
‘This litany of requests [to eat at McDonald's] is draining and very frustrating for children. I would like this practice to stop.’ [Emphasis mine]
And so because one mother doesn’t want to discipline her children, McDonald’s will probably be banned from putting toys in with their Happy Meals, at least in the People’s Republic of San Francisco.
And just what kind of flak are Ms. Parham’s kids going to be taking from this lawsuit? How many of their friends will be saying, “It’s your fault we can’t get toys in Happy Meals anymore–your mom’s lawsuit spoiled it for everyone”?
Also spoiled: children’s chances for a learning experience about the real world:
UPDATE: Slublog weighs in with the commonsensical ”Sue Your Way to Responsible Parenting!“
H/T: Michelle Malkin