Stupid law? You’re toy-ing with me

Seismologists have concluded that within the next couple hundred years or so, there’s a decent chance a major earthquake could destroy the entire West Coast, leaving the area nothing more than a crumpled mass sliding into the Pacific Ocean. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we wouldn’t have to deal with San Francisco anymore.

Like I’ve said before, everything wrong with America can be blamed on the Bay Area. Many evil, disturbing things have originated there: the popularity of drug use, the Zodiac killer, the spread of STDs, and even worse: Twitter. I haven’t even mentioned Nancy Pelosi or tie-dye shirts. O.J. Simpson is a San Francisco native. Shall I go on?

OK, I will. How about this (true story): Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to outlaw the Happy Meal. Specifically, the measure prohibits a restaurant from giving away a free toy unless the accompanying meal has, “less than 600 calories, and contains fruits and vegetables.” Only if the fast-food joint meets those criteria, can a toy be given away. And I assume that toy will probably be a set of earplugs for the parents to use when their kids start complaining about their Tofu McNuggets and package of McBroccoli.

The measure’s sponsor, supervisor Eric Mar, claims that the toys, promotions and other incentives the fast food industry uses to capture the hearts (and stomachs) of our youth are “a major reason for the alarming rise for childhood obesity in our country.” Fair enough. Maybe McDonald’s giveaways are swaying our kids. Maybe the only reason they enjoy fast food is because they’re being brainwashed by sophisticated advertising campaigns. To find out, I decided to conduct an experiment to test his theory.

First I organized a focus group of hungry young children. It was a fairly small sample, consisting of only one child, seeing as how she was the only one in my living room at the time. I took the subject, (a 22-month-old female), and placed her in a high chair that really needs to be cleaned, and since I’ve wiped it down the last two times, it’s not my turn to do it, just in case the subject’s mother happens to be reading this. Anyway, in front of the subject were placed several slices of green bell pepper along with some McDonald’s french fries.

Before I announce the results of my research, let me inform you that the subject has not been previously inundated with McDonald’s TV commercials or other televised promotional message other than Barney’s constant proclamations that “brushing your teeth is fun.” She also cannot be swayed into picking a certain food based on the promise of a toy, seeing as how her favorite toy right now is a Kleenex. What I’m saying is that there were no other factors influencing this experiment other than pure basic, raw human taste senses. So again: green vegetable vs. french fry.

After only a few seconds of observation, the subject made her decision. The winner was — you guessed it — a cookie. Specifically, she said, “Cookie please?” at which point the subject’s mother said she could have a cookie after dinner.

Ultimately, our focus group participant chose the french fries. Although the green peppers are much healthier, more nutritious, and would act as a strong ally in combating “alarming childhood obesity rates,” the subject had very limited interest in them — a conclusion we came to after picking all of them off the floor.

What else can we conclude from this? For one, kids will be kids. Big Macs will always beat Brussels sprouts. It doesn’t matter if the incentive is a “Transformers” toy or a 22-page actuary table, they’ll go for the salt and grease.

Another conclusion we can make is that San Francisco is getting to be annoying, which is too bad, because it’s a beautiful city. I’ve vacationed there. It’s gorgeous. Very tolerant, too. You can do all sorts of things there. If you’re an illegal alien, you can get sanctuary status. You can show off your strange fetishes. You can smoke a joint in public. You can do anything.

Except give a 7-year-old boy a Shrek toy with his hamburger.

E-mail Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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