Last week San Francisco’s “Happy Meal toy ban” went into effect, theoretically expelling free toys from any fast food meals that don’t meet certain nutritional standards. But before children in San Francisco could cry over a lack of plastic figurines, McDonald’s found a way around the legislature by giving parents the option to buy Happy Meal toys for just 10 cents (which would go to the Ronald McDonald House charity). Naturally, outrage ensued.
On the one hand nutritionists complained about McDonald’s circumventing the law, and on the other, citizens were labeling San Francisco as a dirty, liberal, nanny-state. Both camps took to website comment sections and let loose with invective aimed at both the burger giant and its critics.
Some of the most spirited comments were in response to Paula Forbes’ article on Eater. In it, Forbes went so far as to call McDonald’s “sneaky,” which ignited a storm of fury among readers.
“Death to Nannyism,” went one comment. “San Francisco is a totalitarian, authoritarian state anyway. No dissent, everybody obey. Some liberals, huh?” But other commenters went further, with one using the space to write a short diatribe on the “ills” of San Francisco culture in general, asking “who would raise children in San Francisco in the first place?” Another advised the politicians in San Francisco to move to Cuba.
But these responses were comparatively milder than the comments accompanying an article by public health lawyer Michele Simon on Grist. No surprise here, since Simon gets “nanny-state” comments on almost everything she writes, but when you go after McDonald’s, readers get especially riled up. One commenter declared that the U.S. was no longer a free country, while another suggested that imposing a ban on McDonald’s makes about as much sense as banning the sun from shining because it gives people skin cancer. Another asked, “What is it, Bring a Libertarian to Grist Day?” Other disgruntled commenters took a different tack and simply attacked Simon herself for eschewing the issue of “parental responsibility.”
Even the SF.Gate article on the subject was bombarded with angry readers who vowed to go eat at McDonald’s that very day just to spite the law. Many of the comments shared sentiments like this: “I don’t even like McDonald’s, but I’m glad that it found a way around San Francisco’s increasingly nanny-state Board of Supes.”
Once in-a-while a commenter who supported the law would chime in only to be ridiculed by the other readers. Several rections to the SF Gate and Grist articles must have been especially animated since they were removed.
In the meantime, Burger King decided that McDonald’s was on to something and declared that it too would charge for toys. Let the comments begin.