The Corner

New York Introduces the Un-Happy Meal

This afternoon, New York City councilman Leroy Comrie announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban fast-food restaurants from giving away toys in children’s meals. New Yorkers must be thrilled that their council members are spending time on toys when the City’s unemployment rate hasn’t budged from nearly 9 percent since November. I suppose Comrie simply doesn’t trust parents in his district to make good decisions about what their children are eating. He obviously believes government needs to step in.

These regulations are nothing new. New York already bans trans-fats, and in 2008 the city began requiring fast-food restaurants to post calorie information (which I wrote about here and here).  The city only targeted fast food; those super fancy restaurants where they serve bone marrow and foie gras (basically pure animal fat) were exempt from the regulation (rich people must be better at determining when they can eat a high-fat meal).

Other cities have instituted similar regulations. San Francisco famously banned Happy Meal toys last year. Philadelphia requires posted calorie information, and, in a move that smacks of racism, the Los Angeles City Council actually barred new construction of fast-food restaurants — but only in neighborhoods where the residents are primarily African-American and Latino. Nice.

There is, of course, no evidence that any of these regulations changes the way Americans eat.  But this hasn’t stopped Comrie’s campaign against toys — which he calls “predatory marketing techniques.” Not even condemnation from the Left’s favorite news source, The Daily Show, which mocked the San Francisco Happy Meal ban, has stopped the introduction of these measures. 

I guess it’s going to take some outraged parents to finally call off the food police.

— Julie Gunlock is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum

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