The Corner

Sad Days for Happy Meals

Aided and abetted by the reliably malign “Center for Science in the Public Interest,” a California mother, Monet Parham, has filed a class action suit against McDonald’s. The problem? Happy Meals (already in the dog house, of course, for crimes against “food justice“). According to Ms. Parham:

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said. “But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say ‘no’ to our young children so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

Other parents might feel that way about Ms. Parham.

Take it away, Walter Olson:

You’re probably wondering: How is this grounds for a lawsuit? No one forced Parham to take her daughters to McDonald’s, buy them that particular menu item, and sit by as they ate every last French fry in the bag (if they did).

No, she’s suing because when she said no, her kids became disagreeable and “pouted” – for which she wants class action status. If she gets it, McDonald’s isn’t the only company that should worry. Other kids pout because parents won’t get them 800-piece Lego sets, Madame Alexander dolls and Disney World vacations. Are those companies going to be liable too?

The center’s longtime shtick is to complain that businesses like McDonald’s, rather than our own choices, are to blame for rising obesity. So let’s take Happy Meals as an example. When you buy one, you get a string of choices. Milk or soda? (Is that really a hard choice for a parent worried about nutrition?) You can swap out the fattening French fries for “apple dippers” with caramel sauce and plenty of kid appeal. But your choices do not end there. If you think the scoop of fries is too big for a kid serving, you can tell the kid to share it with the grownup on hand, namely you. (You’re the grownup. You make the rules.) You can even, shocking as this sounds, toss the surplus French fries into the disposal bin.

But then are you really a “grown-up”? Not according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an organization that quite clearly sees adults as somewhat elderly children, incapable of making decisions for themselves or their families.

Fries tonight, I think.

I’d add that this arrogant and vexatious lawsuit is yet another reminder of how some “loser pays” (the English rule under which the loser pays some of the legal costs of both sides) would be a very useful addition to the American legal system.

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