“When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut in four or eight slices, I sad, “Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.”
— Yogi Berra
In Louisville, Kentucky, thank goodness I can finally get some sliced peaches with my cheeseburger. I quit eating at McDonald’s a long time ago because when I eat a non-nutritional but delicious cheeseburger, I crave a fruit snack.
Actually, the truth is that I quit eating at McDonald’s a long time ago because they thought by frying their French fries in a healthier cooking oil, fries would be better for you. Nobody eats French fries for the health benefits. I ate McDonald’s French fries for years because they had the best unhealthy but delicious French fries on the planet.
The problem is kids' obesity. We had overweight kids when I was a kid. We didn’t have many. That was because we had a health and diet plan. It was called playing outside. We played outside a lot. We played outside all the time. My mother had to threaten us as kids to come inside and not play outside usually around 11 o’clock in the evening during the summer hours.
Almost every activity we participated in when I was a kid involved physical activity. We played catchers. In catchers, all you did was run across an open field with a class full of other students on the playground and not get caught running from Point A to Point B. If you got caught, then you were a chaser. The winner was the last person caught. We also played kiss-and-catchers with the girls. I won’t elaborate on that game as the statute of limitations on sexual harassment might not have run out.
If you played catchers, then you could eat all the McDonald’s greasy and unhealthy but delicious French fries you could hold and not get a bit heavier; because if you ran enough, it didn’t matter.
As a kid, nobody ate healthy. Occasionally, my mother would cook up some liver and onions because it was healthy and good for you. The taste sucked, but it was a pretty regular once a week healthy supper. Chances are for lunch we probably had some McDonald’s greasy fries and a cheeseburger. You remember that sign about how many billions were served. I was regularly among that billion served at McDonald’s in the ’60s and ’70s.
We also played baseball, basketball and football when I was a kid. In fact, almost every activity I can remember involved physical activity. McDonald’s did not serve a healthy fruit alternative to French fries and my mom would not have ordered them for me and I would not have eaten them if she did.
Today, almost one in three kids is overweight. Do you think it’s because McDonald's has less delicious French fries and kids eat them anyway? OK, unhealthy eating is a part of the equation. However, the lack of physical exercise is a much greater factor.
The average kid today spends four hours a day in front of a television set. In one study, there was a decline in active exercise among kids 6 to 12 years old as there was also an increase in physical activity among people 65 years of age and higher.
The fact that local politicians decided to pass legislation to make sure that all restaurants that cater to mainly kids show a very misguided attempt to not only influence the health and behavior of kids but also, in my opinion, an undue burden on those businesses, themselves.
New York once passed laws regarding how large sodas could be that were served in convenience stores. The New York Court of Appeals ruled that the ban imposed “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.” Big Gulps are now safe, at least until another ordinance is passed and challenged in court.
A brief summary of the Louisville ordinance states that any restaurant that offers a children’s menu includes one of the following requirements: one-quarter cup of fruit or vegetables, which specifically excludes potatoes, a whole grain product, or 2 ounces of a lean product, which can include nuts, seeds, dry beans, peas, or one egg. Restaurants found in violation can now be fined not less than $25 nor more than $100 per each offense.
There are many reasons for which I am grateful that I was a kid in my days than being a kid today. Included among them is the fact that we enjoyed sports and almost every other physical activity one can imagine as a regular part of our daily lives. Another would certainly include I could regularly eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger and some delicious greasy French fries usually accompanied by a chocolate malt.
My special order back then and today would certainly include, “Give me a Happy Meal. And hold the peaches!”
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com.