Which Came First: Cheap Fast Food, or the Desire for Cheap Fast Food?

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“People don’t like cheap, tasty, high-calorie fare because McDonald’s offers it. McDonald’s offers it because people like it.”

The doctors, health officials, and anti-fast food activists who recently pleaded with McDonald’s to get rid of Ronald and stop marketing to kids probably didn’t expect all that many people to defend a clown who pushes burgers, fries, and nuggets on the masses. But that’s exactly what columnists like the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman (quoted above) are doing.

At the same time Chapman calls Ronald McDonald “one of the more annoying characters on the planet,” he’s more disdainful of the “food moralists” hell bent on tearing down the Golden Arches. Practically speaking, Chapman wonders what, if anything, would be accomplished by ridding the world of Ronald and banning McDonald’s efforts to lure kids in with Happy Meals:

It may be argued that many parents are too weak or ignorant to make sound decisions about the food their kids eat. If so, McDonald’s and its unstoppable brainwashing machine could vanish tomorrow without making the slightest difference in obesity or other diet-related ailments.

That point, and a general annoyance with nanny state tactics, sum up the typical reader comments on last week’s post about the controversy.

Another columnist, Dow Jones’ Al Lewis, had this to say in a patriotic, over-the-top defense of the clown:

He is as iconic a Ronald as Ronald Reagan. He is a piece of Americana, as recognizable as Santa Claus and as embedded in the culture as Mickey Mouse.

This is true, I suppose, though that doesn’t negate the case that Ronald McDonald is annoying. Also, I’d argue that his food is unhealthy and not cheap. But you can decide for yourself.