The city of San Francisco is considering a ban on toys in fast food meals. Civic leaders would like us to add the modifier "fatty" to those meals. And therein lies the rub: If there were healthful meals available at fast food restaurants, there probably wouldn't be a need for such a ban. One can imagine the hemp action figures that might come in the new Colon Cleanse Kids' Meal at your nearest bio-fuel station. It might require the fast food giants to consider some more alternatives than apple slices or a carton of milk to make the choices for their younger customers just a little more healthy, but after Jared, who is really eating at Subway for their minimum daily requirements?
The suggestion that kids will immediately flock to whatever burger chain happens to be hawking little plastic swag in their little boxes of "food" is not a ridiculous one. My son first became entranced by the idea of cheeseburgers when he realized there was a toy that went along with them. He was also the kid who, a couple of years later, became enraged at that same marketing ploy when he discovered that it was all one big advertising gimmick. Buy the "food." Watch the TV show. See the commercials for the "food." Repeat. A vicious cycle that he was able to discern for himself, with a little help from his parents.
Oh, that's right. There is another element in this equation: parents. If parents made the conscious choice when and how often "fatty fast food meals" would be consumed by their offspring, the toy might not be such a deal breaker. A radical suggestion, I understand, but it might be slightly easier to take than the one that once upon a time got the "sugary cereal with a prize inside" monkey off my back: My older brother watched me stick my arm in the box and fish around for a minute or two before observing, "You know, you're leaving all kinds of dead skin cells from your arm in your cereal when you do that." Apple Jacks were never the same after that. Do I really need to extrapolate that image to the kitchen of a fast food restaurant? I hope not.