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Fight junk food.... with toys

Use the successful strategies of fast food restaurants to compete with them
  [vote for,

Anti-fast food lawyers claim that restaurants like McDonald's are evil. They back this up with claims that they lure children with targeted advertisements and promises of free toys. They say that those indoor playgrounds at McDonald's are evil because they lure kids in (nevermind the fact they actually help kids burn off the extra fat from the food).

Well it seems that the government could stop wasting money in litigation to do pointless things like banning free toys (like they did in California), which don't work anyway. McDonald's still gives out toys, they just charge $0.10 for them now, and parents still take their kids there.

Instead, they should take that money and fund child-targeted adverts and free toys for kids to eat at healthy restaurants, like Subway, and maybe offer government loans to help people start new restaurant franchises designed to offer fast food that is healthy because, let's face it, there aren't a lot of them out there.

21 Quest, Jan 16 2012

California's ban on Happy Meal toys http://www.nytimes....co-happy-meals.html
//San Francisco’s ordinance prohibits fast-food restaurants from including free toys in children’s meals that do not meet specific nutritional standards.// [21 Quest, Jan 17 2012]

(?) edible toys= gummy handcuffs http://awscontent.s...mmyhandcuffsred.jpg
[xandram, Jan 18 2012]


       If parents could, um, parent, this wouldn't be neccessary.
DIYMatt, Jan 17 2012

       I couldn't agree more.
21 Quest, Jan 17 2012

       [DIY] I'm sure that's true to some extent, but marketing directed at children can be extremely powerful and insidious. One documentary on the subject suggests (among even more disturbing things) that such a powerful association with a brand can be created in the child that it can actually be psychologically damaging to deprive the child of its products, and that advertisers know and deliberately exploit this.

       I consider this worth fighting, but simple 'good parenting' may not always be enough.
spidermother, Jan 17 2012

       I disagree, and here's why: there's simply no need to completely deprive a child of all fast food to be a good parent. Like all luxuries, it should be allowed, in moderation. Just like I don't agree that it's proper to either deprive a child completely of video games or to buy them every game they ask for, and it is only total deprivation, or forcing a child who is used to frequent exposure to quit cold turkey, that could possibly lead to any kind of psychological damage.

       It is my fervent opinion that any 'doctor' or lawyer who says otherwise is a quack and should be promptly dismissed.
21 Quest, Jan 17 2012

       not sure how a ban on *free* anything works.
po, Jan 17 2012

       I'm not sure myself, especially in a Constitutional sense. Ask your friend Blissy, she lives in California, I think.
21 Quest, Jan 17 2012

       //...for kids to eat at healthy restaurants, like Subway// This made me sit upright - I like Subway, but I'd never describe it as healthy - I know, it is possible to choose from a variety of vegetable-based toppings to place in your high-carb, processed-flour foot-long loaf of bread, before topping it with sugar-based sauce and layering with processed meats and cheeses - Eat Fresh! Sure, But Healthy? That may be a stretch.

       //Like all luxuries, [fast-food] should be allowed, in moderation. // While I probably agree with the sentiment, I'm trying to come to terms with the idea that cheap and readily available, fried, high-fat, high-carb, high-process food as being a luxury. Don't get me wrong, I like a double cheeseburger just as much as the next man, but I don't think I'd ever describe one as a "luxury" item, in the same way I wouldn't describe a plastic spoon, a paper bag, or a disposable shoe as luxury items - I don't "need" any of those things, but aren't they the result of highly mechanised, industrial processes that rely on quantity and economies of scale to exist, and as such almost freely available on a grand scale, rather than being a luxury?

       But I'm well aware that I may be unfairly splitting hairs - on the wider point, I agree - moderation is nearly always preferable to abolition.

       One thing I've found travelling the US is how you need to be a local to find any food that's not Arbys, Denny's, McDonald's, Sonic, Taco Bell, Red Robin or similar - it's all big carbs, big fries and big portions - which is fine once in a while, but sometimes, it's nice just to get something more delicate - like you might find in an Italian deli for example - we used to dip into supermarkets and load up on fruit, sliced ham, bagels and water, because the only other options we could find were scarily energy-laden. I'm sure those other options were out there, but being from out of town, or just passing through on the highway, they were often difficult to find.

       Saying that, we did pass through a big fruit area and were treated to roadside fruits fresh off the trees, so it wasn't all bad.

       I'm not anti-fast food, anyone can eat whatever they want to eat, it's none of my, or the governments business - but as a consumer, I'd prefer the option of having something that doesn't cling to my teeth, or make me feel tired, or greasy after eating it. The problem is that for these fast food conglomerates to exist, they need to shift a lot of product (or their economies of scale would fail to make their business models viable) with all the capital tied up with those businesses, there's a significant and vested interest in maintaining the hard-won status quo - and it's that, I suppose that makes these things politically divisive.

       So if you are going to have governmental interference, why not provide grants or incentives to support home-grown produce and cottage service providers who are not enormous franchise conglomerates who own the full vertical supply chain?

       These large chains own the cattle production, all the ingredients, the factories in which these ingredients are processed, the distribution networks, the real estate, the marketing, everything. With a handful of vertically aligned businesses dominating the environment, it's very difficult for new competition to step in. And if government ever does have a role, it's to encourage new startups so that they can stimulate healthy competition and generate new and innovative ideas and services. I think that would be my preferred solution to the problem as it stands - so [+]
zen_tom, Jan 17 2012

       Banning food advertisements on TV would work better and is much simpler to administer.
phundug, Jan 17 2012

       make the toys out of vegetables.
po, Jan 17 2012

       Grind up the toys and use them to bulk out the burgers?
pocmloc, Jan 17 2012

       [ZT] What's avaialable right off the highways is often exclusively fast food, but I would argue that US urban areas are comparable to European in the availability non-chain quality food options. US or Europe, you are taking a chance on the quality of the local option, but it is there, and easily findable if you walk into the center of a smaller city, or around the streets of a larger city. Rural areas are somewhat more problematic, in that finding the local diner tucked away on the back roads can be difficult.

       I'll admit that Yelp or similar has greatly improved the chance of finding quality independent restaurants, but they do exist.
MechE, Jan 17 2012

       //Banning food advertisements on TV would work better and is much simpler to administer//

       Again, that idea stands on shaky legal ground. In a free market economy, how can you tell a company that they are not allowed to market their products to compete with other companies? Food is food, and unlike tobacco there is very little, if any, real evidence that processed foods found at fast food restaurants are any less healthy than food found at most sit-down diners.

       Take a look at the documentaries "Super Size Me" and "Fat Head", in that order (both are available for free on Hulu.com), for diametrically opposed viewpoints on the subject, and tell me which seems more convincing to you.
21 Quest, Jan 17 2012

       I like po's suggestion, edible toys. Broccoli soldiers, and carrot little dolls. Yay.
blissmiss, Jan 17 2012

       I'm with [po], too. You can have a lot of fun with food. I mean, an orange is a ball you can eat, an apple is a hard ball you can brain your sibling with (and then eat), bananas and quite a few other foods are humorously suggestive in any number of ways, and for a consistent spread pattern you just can't beat garden peas.

       When T.G.F.J. and I spawn our own brood of attractive, intelligent, and charming little blonde-haired psychopaths, we're going to teach them (in a very figurative sense) the way wolves teach their young; everything is a game... so play for keeps.

       I feel it is important to note that wolves, with rare exception, do not eat at McDonald's.
Alterother, Jan 17 2012

       xandram, nice find. Were you searching for handcuffs for a particular sport/rec/fun time?
blissmiss, Jan 18 2012

       //San Francisco’s ordinance prohibits fast-food restaurants from including free toys in children’s meals that do not meet specific nutritional standards//

       So if the free toys are specifically nutritious, it's OK.
Ling, Jan 20 2012

       //When T.G.F.J. and I spawn // it takes 5 of you on your planet?
po, Jan 20 2012

       Po, that's his/its wife, presumably. The Great Fairy Jane. He married a fairy... I wonder about the mechanics of such breeding.
21 Quest, Jan 20 2012

       It's 'The Good Fairy Jenny', actually, and she's not the gossamer-winged 6"-tall Tinkerbell type of fairy. It's more of a term of endearment.
Alterother, Jan 21 2012

       Actually, it's a protected term in the State of California these days... misuse may carry legal penalties.
21 Quest, Jan 21 2012

       Interesting, but we're on the other end of the country... and she doesn't really need protecting. She's almost as deadly as I am. Maybe more so, considering she's a woman.
Alterother, Jan 21 2012

       Indeed... there's something to be said about the tenacity of any creature that bleeds for 5 days (or longer) and doesn't die.
21 Quest, Jan 21 2012

       T.G.F.J. may be like "The Good Man*" or "Sidhe:" people you really, really don't want to antagonize, so you refer to them in flattering terms, to stay on their good side.

       *not Jesus: the Voodo euphemism.
mouseposture, Jan 21 2012

       // "The Good Man*" //

       For a moment, I was afraid you were comparing my wife to Ralph Nader.
Alterother, Jan 21 2012

       It was an accident. Please don't hurt me.
mouseposture, Jan 21 2012

       I would never do such a thing*. It was a fairly obscure reference anyway.

       *Unless you really, really deserved it, which you currently do not.
Alterother, Jan 21 2012


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