Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Nanny Backlash

This L.A. Times article nicely documents the growing backlash against the food police, as exemplified by Hardee’s new Monster Thickburger. Hardee’s has actually been getting fan mail about the 1,420-calorie sandwich:
"While other restaurants were a bunch of Nancy-boys and became low-carb cowards in the face of moronic 'they made me fat' lawsuits, you did the AMERICAN thing," John Frensley, a 22-year-old college student from Texas, wrote in an e-mail, "by spitting in the face of lawyers, nutritionists and food-nazi types and offering a monument to Americanism."
Here, here! I’m also amused by the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s gradual transformation into a robotic toy that spouts overwrought slogans whenever you yank its chain. In the past, they have called a fast-food meal “a heart attack on a plate”; they call the Monster Thickburger the “fast-food equivalent of a snuff film.” I’m sure the executives at Hardee’s regard this as free publicity. And good on 'em, I say.


Anonymous said...

1420 calories -- that's disgusting.
I don't think it's a bad thing to let the public know how unhealthy some of the foods we consume are. Most people don't research on there own to find this info until it's too late. I would have not known anything about transfatty acids and how terrible it is for your body had it not been for the active effort in public awareness by the media, FDA, and "food police."

Where is everyone; i'm the only one commenting? i'm getting self-conscious. =)


Anonymous said...

"Overwrought slogans?"

Given this blog's proclivity to measure the effectiveness of policies in the most dry and dispassionate terms, right down to the etiquitte of farting, how about we examine the effectiveness of this language in terms of the number of lives it saves?

The importance of fast-food lawsuits is greatly overblown; they are probably not keeping fast-food executives awake at night. But it is indisputable that eating a lot of fast food causes premature death, and that Americans eat too much of it. One can tut-tut at the hysterical language being used these days, but the overwhelming question is: does it work? If they weren't comparing the thickburger to a "snuff film", you probably wouldn't even be thinking about it.

It seems to me that one ought to be able to measure the effectiveness of this language, and at least estimate its effect on years of life saved. It would be hard to argue against a policy that saves lives just because it's annoying or condescending. One can easily accuse the CSPI of being self-promoting, but it is also reasonable to believe that they are sincere about saving American lives - and they may well be succeeding at that.

I hasten to point out that nobody, as far as I know, is legally restricting what Americans are allowed to eat, or even seriously considering it. I've seen nothing more than education and exhortation. So, from a libertarian perspective... where's the beef?


Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a vegetarian and I wouldn't care about Hardees' monument to indulgence if so many people weren't screaming about it like it was the end of the world.

I mean, what's the problem? Nobody's bitching about ultra-intense ice cream sold by the pint, or about bacon packaged by the pound, or about mayonnaise sold by the quart, are they?

The Clean Plate Patrol isn't going to haul anyone off to jail if the wanna-be glutton finds it impossible to finish the hamburger, are they?

Are cows suddenly an endangered species?

I mean really! What's the problem?

Glen Whitman said...

In response to the negative comments, I've made a follow-up post.