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Todd Hartley

Todd Hartley

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I'm With Stupid: Bad Parents Unhappy About Happy Meals

Posted: 12/17/10 09:16 AM ET

I am, admittedly, not the best parent in the world. Oh, I try, but I'm lazy and not very bright, so sometimes things don't work out exactly as planned. I frequently let my son stay up past his bedtime, and he can go many days between baths. I allow him to watch more TV than he should, and I still haven't figured out how to get my son to eat healthy food. There is one thing I do know as a parent, though, and that's this: If you want your child to be healthy, don't make McDonald's a staple of their diet.

Sadly, I'm forced to bring this up in light of the fact that McDonald's is being sued in the state of California by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which filed a class-action suit Wednesday on behalf of Monet Parham, a mother of two from Sacramento, and other plaintiffs. At issue is the fact that McDonald's puts toys in their Happy Meals, a practice that CSPI claims violates California's consumer protection laws.

The plaintiffs believe that the toys entice children to buy meals they say are unhealthy. "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," said Ms. Parham in a statement.

I don't particularly care for McDonald's myself, but allow me to respond on their behalf, if I may.

Ms. Parham, if toys in Happy Meals are really an issue for your family, you are a bad parent. I can't state it any more clearly than that. Just like the parents who sued McDonald's a few years ago because their children were obese, the blame in this situation lies entirely with you.

Let's examine the facts here. First of all, the Happy Meal was introduced in 1979, and it has always included toys, which, by the way, are available on their own, without the food. I don't know how old Parham is, but it's likely that Happy Meals with toys were available when she was a child, too. Fortunately, there wasn't a litigious jackass around back then to make a fuss about it.

Secondly, most kids who eat Happy Meals don't have money of their own or a way to get to McDonald's by themselves, so to claim that the toys entice children to buy Happy Meals is absurd. The toys merely encourage children to pester their parents to buy them Happy Meals. If you can't say no to your children, that's not McDonald's fault.

Thirdly, if McDonald's is "getting into your kids' heads," you are allowing your children to watch way too much TV. My son watches more than his share and knows all about SpongeBob, Diego, Dora, the Backyardigans, the Wonder Pets and plenty of other characters. He still doesn't know who Ronald McDonald is.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, McDonald's has always been honest about the fate that might befall your children if they eat a diet that is mostly cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, French fries and soda. In fact, McDonald's has provided visual references for years by way of their mascots.

The best-case scenario is that your child will end up as a creepy clown with pasty white skin, unnaturally red hair and giant feet, just like Ronald, who was a successful bank executive before McDonald's food changed him into the man he is today. It is possible that your child could have a career in politics despite their unhealthy eating habits, just like Mayor McCheese, but they'll have to have a massive cheeseburger for a head to get elected. In either case, they'll be some sort of hideous mutant.

The other possibilities are even worse. If your child develops a fast-food addiction, the way the Hamburglar did, he or she will become a masked felon, stealing money to pay for burgers, unable to say much beyond "robble, robble." And if, God forbid, your child eats nothing but McDonald's, they'll end up an amorphous, rotund, purple blob like Grimace, who is rumored to have already suffered 19 heart attacks, despite being just 38 years old.

Yes, McDonald's food is unhealthy. It has always been that way, and everyone has always known it. Smart people avoid that problem by simply not eating it, and good parents don't allow their children to eat too much of it. Bad parents (or, possibly, greedy bastards) sue McDonald's rather than accept responsibility for their own kids' well-being.

Todd "Mr. McCheesy" Hartley's hair used to be in the shape of a giant cheeseburger, but fortunately he went bald at a young age. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.