Welcome to the official, independent student-run newspaper of Hofstra University!

Nutrition outweighs novelty in Happy Meal toy take-down

By Andrea Ordonez, Columnist

Upon entering college, one fear of college students is gaining the "Freshman 15." Hofstra conducts an a la carte system, in which one gets however much one pays for. Some colleges only allow students a certain number of meals a day. Arguably, Hofstra's system better fits the typical college student's schedule, allowing students constantly on-the-go to get food quickly. But Lackmann food can satisfy for only so long, and soon enough even sandwiches from Subway and Au Bon Pain begin to taste like paper.

Sometimes a busy schedule calls for de-stressing with a stack of genuinely unhealthy food only a block away, such as McDonald's. Those golden arches attract millions daily with the guarantee of world famous fries, burgers, and that classic Happy Meal – complete with the promise of a toy.

A couple of weeks ago, San Francisco passed a law forbidding McDonald's restaurants from giving free toys in Happy Meals. The new measure claimed that free toys could only be given with meals containing less than 600 calories, fruits and vegetables, and a drink not high in sugar. With such restrictions, how could a Happy Meal continue to include the word ‘happy'?

After all, the toy was never meant to act as an incentive for healthy eating. The Happy Meal toy completes children's McDonald's experience with family time in the restaurant's Play Place. It also teaches children how to start collections and even how to share with others. The Happy Meal toy has also helped movies and toy companies market products that allow kids to be kids for nearly 30 years.

Thankfully, San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom repealed the Happy Meal toys ban last Friday.

"Parents, not politicians, should decide what their children eat," Newsom said, "especially when it comes to spending their own money."

Several recent campaigns, including First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" constantly remind American parents that childhood obesity is a rapidly growing issue. However blame should not be placed on something as iconic as Happy Meal toys.

For years, McDonald's has tried to clean up its image by doing everything from endorsing the Olympics to adding milk and low-sugar juice options to Happy Meals. The chain has also added salads and fruit parfaits to its menus.

Still, practically everyone around the world goes to McDonald's knowing the restaurant chain is completely fast food and high in fat, calories, and sodium. Despite this knowledge and Morgan Spurlock's infamous documentary "Super Size Me," people continue going to McDonald's anyway. Who then is to blame for adverse weight effects that come from eating at McDonald's? The consumers, not the food chain itself.

The Crazy Life of an Aspiring Rock Star

Students frustrated with professors' office hours