Can Government Control Food? - The Move to Oust Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald at a military base in Southwest Asia, cheering up the soldiers.
Ronald McDonald at a military base in Southwest Asia, cheering up the soldiers. | Source

Childhood Obesity

The advocacy group that stopped Joe Camel from selling cigarettes to kids and youth targeted Ronald McDonald for causing childhood obesity in 2010. Many readers of the news felt that it must be an April Fool's joke, but it was not.

The cartoon character Joe Camel does children a disservice by appealing to them to smoke, especially in third world countries where the youths' main hobbies are smoking and huffing from paint spray cans. Destitute young children in parts of South America will work on the streets all day and spend their earnings on a few cigarettes or a single can of spray paint to spray into a paper bag or a rag and inhale the fumes. In America, it's illegal for kids to smoke, but they still do and some of their parents know about it. Smoking is addictive and hard to quit. How about food? What evil can a fast food clown arrange? I don't think we can outlaw fast food -- Although, the larger sizes for soft drinks have been banned in NYC since 2012.

Corporate Accountability International (CAI) at http://www.stopcorporate abuse.org in Boston, Massachusetts thinks that plenty of evil manifests in the childhood obesity epidemic in America. I agree. They also feel that children are driven to the drive thru not only by their parents, but also by fast food addictions encouraged specifically by the corporate clown, Ronald McDonald. Maybe.

Sweet Nastiness

McDonalds has been a successful enterprise. In Central Ohio, some casual dining managers could not persuade their own children to eat in their restaurants, because the youngsters preferred McDonalds. I think that the kids do not necessarily follow Ronald like mice did the Pied Piper of Hamlin -- It may be a fact that the red and yellow of his costume are the most eye-catching sales colors according to research, but sugar is the ingredient that draws the kids. The french fries are flash frozen and sprayed with sugar for appetizing appearance and flavor hot out of the fryer. Is this sugar deadly? If the fries are connected with Ronald in the children's minds, it may be --

A married couple that were friends of one of the managers I mentioned above told their friend that they were nearly involved in a serious traffic accident, because Daddy would not drive into a McDonald's parking lot. Their young son, standing behind the driver's seat, clamped his hands painfully over Daddy's eyes in heavy traffic, obstinately demanding and shouting for the "special" french fries. A pile-up was averted somehow and Daddy did not take his family to McDonald's. He may never have done so again. If the sugar would come off the fries, then perhaps some children would not be so attracted by Ronald and HamBurglar and singing french fries.

How did this happen? Incidentally, why are children as young as 1 year old and 6 months old being fed McDonald's french fries?

(Sxc.hu by vancanjay)
(Sxc.hu by vancanjay)

Community Service

Ronald McDonald does tremendous good in serving as the icon of the Ronald McDonald House Charities that house the parents of ill children near childrens' hospitals throughout the US. It will be difficult to replace the clown and keep donors active. Once removed, his absence will be off putting to donors that trusted his image as much as they did the consistent quality of the menu items anywhere in the world. The elimination of Ronald would indicate a downhill slide in quality in the company.

Ronald also is active in neighborhood Muscular Dystrophy Association carnivals to help Jerry's Kids of all ages. These carnivals are held on McDonalds parking lots and in the neighborhoods surrounding them. It would be murder to pull the plug on that connection and lose the money for MDA and the fun that people have at these afffairs.

The Boston activist group states that the company of the Golden Arches has used its clown to create and reinforce:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • animal welfare abuses - For this one, read Fast Food Nation and be stunned .
  • labor exploitation - True, this has happened in some McD restaurant units and the meat processing plants, as described in the book mentioned above and in others.
  • unceasing environmental destruction
  • breakdown of our food system."

Ronald McDonald House Charities

"Walk Into the Light"

(c)P. Inglish and B. Franklin 2003 - 2010.
(c)P. Inglish and B. Franklin 2003 - 2010.
Fat...scary...clown...(Sxc.hu by sgarlach)
Fat...scary...clown...(Sxc.hu by sgarlach)

Killer Clowns

According to the CAI web page, the clown was teaching kids math in Arkansas; teaching about friendship, cooperation, and anti-bullying in Central Ohio (he was; I saw it), and working at Safety Day in Orlando. CAI suggests these acts simply cover the motive to market unhealthy food to children for repeat, lifelong sales. In think that is only partially true.

The advocates feel that the clown icon promotes childhood obesity -- Perhaps somewhat, but not to the extent that people promote it. Parents, older siblings, and babysitters that feed their kids an unhealthy diet and neglect exercise, are more the ones to blame (ask Maury Povich about his episodes on this topic). Some folks purposely overfeed the kids and even other adults that become dependent on the feeders -- This becomes a vortex of another problem.

Also to blame for childhood obesity is a set of commercials that connect emotions and family memories to eating burgers, fries, and shakes. Some of these ads make it an intergenerational affair. This is nothing new -- People did this on their own, without ads, in sharing White Castle Hamburgers for decades. Other chains saw this and adopted related advertising schemes. You know the story - good times, good memories, good food. Connecting food with emotions creates dysfunctional eating habits and these commercials are to blame. Ronald does not appear in them.

Nonsense ! (?)

Some parents say "Nonsense" to all this alarm. They will not be induced to serve their kids sugar-fries, at least not very often. These parents say, rather, do something about the zombie Burger King character. The King, though, is not as creepy as the BK ad that looks like Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog- Hee Haw girls swinging in extra short, low cut gingham about to do who-knows-what to you while they hook you up to the machine... No thanks.

No matter our opinions, a 1,000-chemical smoke-producing product that directly causes cancer, especially in the presence of exhaust and pollution fumes (8000+% higher risk in that combination) is more dangerous than a menu of products that are over-consumed by informed choice, cause obesity over time, and eventually lead to a number of diseases. Watch the film Repo Men for a treatment of this fact and a warning.

Ronald McDonald is not the problem. Having SUGAR as the NUMBER ONE ingredient in french fries, sandwich buns, and fish breading is the culprit. Some of the non-clown commercials are at fault as well. What's more - <Consumer Alert> - McDonald's is not the only restaurant or chain that does this in 2010. Ask your favorite restaurant (be it chain or free standing diner) about their lists of ingredients for these three items. The ingredient in the largest proportional amount of the total is first in the list, percentages decreasing down the line. If sugar or fat are in the top 3 or 4 ingredients, beware. Reduce your intake of these menu items.

I knew a wonderful Ronald McDonald several years back. He was an actor in a number of local and regional productions and a life skills coach/mentor to at least one roommate that was a man with developmental disabilities who was living in the community rather than in an institution. The Ronald worked MDA carnivals, school assemblies, new store openings, and shopping center shows, always with a kind word for everyone, child or adult.

Wherever you are, Ronald, I remember you.

Aftermath

CAI, go to the Boston hospitals and tell the dying children that they cannot see Ronald McDonald anymore; he never loved them; that Ronald is throwing their parents out of the temporary home he had given them so that they could come to this fine hospital in the first place. Go tell the doctors and nurses that the children can no longer have the joy of the red and yellow clown to make them smile. (Maybe Patch Admas can cover all the hospitals in the US.) Smiles fight cancer - what do tears do?

French fries don't come to the hospital; love does. The sugar and fat are not coming after the kids there.

Educate the public, lobby to change the food, and look at advertising laws. Take fast food chains out of schools (we did). Cut the sugar, fat, and emotionally manipulative ads; teach kids that food is a tool, not a friend; but don't cut Ronald McDonald. 

When there is no Ronald McDonald the public turns elsewhere...

Source
SAD CLOWN
SAD CLOWN | Source

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Comments 23 comments

debugs profile image

debugs 6 years ago from Odessey777, Umbris

Why should people allow these so called advocacy groups to dictate what an individual should eat?


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting hub, Patty, and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

debugs - People should have the right to make their own fod choices. I'm surprised CAI came after the mascot/icon rather than to join Michelle Obama in "Let's Move" for better childhood nutrition. Joe Camel and Ronald are not the same gimmick. Thansk for commenting.

Hello, hello - I want the good the clown does to be let alone. Thanks for reading!


Everyday Miracles profile image

Everyday Miracles 6 years ago from Indiana, USA

McDonalds makes me sick -- literally, not figuratively. I've always figured that it had something to do with MSG in the food (it is present, correct?). I had no idea about the levels of sugar that were in McDonalds foods.

My goal is to begin this summer by planting our own garden and beginning to eat more natural foods (with fewer ingredients, and more prepared at home, including baked goods).

I don't believe that legislation is the answer: Education, on the other hand, IS. Ronald McDonald isn't attracting children by virtue of being a clown: they have to get their hands on the FOOD before they are really attracted to it!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Wow! Sorry to hear the sickness aspect - I'm allergic to MSG; got an overdose at one Mark Pi unit. I dodn't know about the MSG at McD - it was not listed in contents I saw, But that was several years ago; it might be there now.

I admire your plans and skills in growing and baking your own foods. I agree with your admonition for education. I'd never let a 6-month old have McD french fries and no one else very often. Thanks for commenting! - others may take your choice for gardens to heart. Much success with that.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

My family never ate at McDonalds until I was around four, and my little sister was two. We only ate there once and awhile, and honestly since we did not eat beef there was much on their menu I never liked anyway. I prefer the local fast food place Del Taco and I like the green burrito, which is not something I should eat every day, but at least it has less fat than the big Mac. Over the years McDonalds is a little bit better now that they offer chocolate milk, juice, and salad, but I just do not see the point of paying extra for things I could eat at home. My favorite out to eat place is Subway, which is healthy. I think parents have to be responsible and not make McDonalds a weekly thing if they want their kids to not complain about it. Feeding babies french fries? Why would anyone do that!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

Some legislation does need to be in place to get fast food chains like McDonalds to change their ways because let's face it, they would never have offered healthier alternatives without a bit of persuasion. Of course ultimately parents must educate their kids about healthy food choices, but there are many families where this has never happened. There are grandparents who never grew up eating anything healthy, and some people can benefit from education campaigns to choose better foods. However, ultimately it is up to people to listen to that advice and change their ways.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Sweetie Pie - Have seen several parents feed babies french fries; many seem to think that is is a cute thing to do. I don't. Some education has been done through books, films, public health activities, talk show exposes, etc.; but when the recession hit, fast food business increased. I think "Repo Men" could scare some people out of it. although that's not a good technique. Thanks for your experiences and thoughts.


thevoice profile image

thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

very unique hub


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

Patty people are so quick these days to demonize commercial entities as they are now the accepted dark empires of the modern day. I myself say what ever happened to common sense ? It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to know that Mcdonalds is not the healthiest choice one could make for dinner or lunch. Just as it is common knowledge to know cigarretes are harmful. I believe people should take more Iniative instead of legislating and having Government entities do the enforcement that ultimately parents are responsible for. Ronald Mcdonald has been a commercial Icon since I was a child , which was a long time ago. But why stop there ? Lets get rid of that evil Cap'n Crunch too !

Thank you for highlighting Ronald Mcdonald house too Patty . I donate alot of money to that cause as well as various other childrens charities. I am sponsoring an Easter lunch for those children this weekend. And I am not rollin in dough but some things are worth sacrificing for.

I might be an arrogant loudmouth , but anytime I can make a suffering child's life better I am all about that cause. Good smart writing here Patty


emohealer profile image

emohealer 6 years ago from South Carolina

You covered a lot of ground in this hub. But the attractino for me reading it was the many wonderful things I have know the Ronald McDonald House to have done. I have a friend who one by one lost her children to cancer. As she and her family went through this experience over many years, The Ronald McDonald House provided transportation, temporary housing and opportunities for the family to spend time together. As they experienced so much loss, this clown and this agency were a major aspect in making it through these trying times. She is not the only one. Believe me, this clown does not signify fast food, sugar or any of those other things, it signifies a smile and a helping hand, a bright face in a room full of tears, a light in a dark place. Those that have made the connection of the clown to only obesity have never taken a good look at the rest of the picture, how sad to only see a piece of the puzzle and destroy it without realizing the rest of the picture contained hope and beauty.

Thumbs up for a great article and sharing the awareness with us of the "whole picture"


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 6 years ago from The English Midlands

I didn't know about this. It seems a bit over the top ~ but that's the way things are nowadays.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

This hub was very easy and nice to read as usual Patty, than you.

I think Ronald McDonald is not so much the problem, but agree with SweetiePie that a bit of pressure may improve what they sell.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Our children never went to these places when they were young because we could not afford to eat out. However, they do eat at those places, at times, with their own children.Somehow it did not make my grandchildren fat.


gramarye profile image

gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

I liked the twists and turns in this. However, all things need to be in balance, but it is the most vulnerable who don't balance. You have given me some food for thought with this.


Faybe Bay profile image

Faybe Bay 6 years ago from Florida

Oh boy do I agree! Educate, but don't kill the clown! I remember a local guy when I was a kid, he would dress up as Ronald MacDonald at the county fair, and on his TV show, which was local. I miss him, and never forgot how kind he was to us kids. He didn't ask us to eat at MacDonald's, he told us to be kids, "never forget this, don't ever stop being a kid." I grew up, but I never stopped being a kid (well almost never).


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Great comments!

Faybe Bay - So kind, the story could make me cry.


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

Patty, I too, have had the privilege of knowing the "secret identity" of one of the regional Ronald McDonalds. The man has an awesome understanding of his responsibility to children, whether or not he was wearing his costume and make-up. He was also involved in community theater, and was very active in the Fellowship of Christian Magicians.

I'm glad you published this hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

What a heart-warming story, BDazzler! These people are much-needed.

In my freshman year of college, one of those Christian magicians took over the largest local music hall across from campus for one night and it was packed with young people with questions and needs. Many came away refreshed and with a changed heart.


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

McDonalds, due to public pressure, has added more healthy choices to the menu, including apple slices and frozen yogurt with granola. I say we keep McDonalds and make better choices when we're there.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Great hub.Well balanced. A little , occassional stop at Mcdonalds is a far cry from eating ONLY that food every day. As for babies.I can hardly believe anyone could be so stupid. Thanks for the heaps of information.


Ren53 6 years ago

I am a pediatric RN and a grandmother. Ronald McDonald House and room has been wonderful for our hospital.

Who do you honestly think feeds their kids McDonalds 3 times a day, 7 days a week. They do have healthy choices the kids will eat them.

This country is so overrun with everyone trying to tell everyone else what to do.

No more Happy Meals, no more toy inside. When my granddaughter and I were talking about it she said "the toy is just something to help make kids happy".


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Exactly. A tiny toy makes a child happy. Ronald McDonal House saves lives.

I do know a family that eats nothing but McDonald's though, except when a friend brings over something else. They get along in life.

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