Thursday, February 13, 2003

Maybe McDonald's IS trying to make us fat

I've had little patience with stories of lawsuits claiming that McDonald's is somehow forcing people to overeat their fried specialties and is therefore legally responsible for the plaintiffs' obesity. We may sometimes feel that we're slaves to advertising, but we're not, really. We can choose to eat elsewhere, or to not go out at all. We can choose to order the McSalad instead of the McSaturatedFatBurger. No matter how amazing the fries smell, we are still people of free will. And unless there are pimply teenagers in McDonald's uniforms forcing milkshakes down our unwilling throats, I don't believe we have anybody to blame for our appetites but ourselves.

And yet, there is this: Every so often, I drive by McDonald's in the morning on the way to my office to pick up a little breakfast. And when I do, I allow myself a little indulgence: one of those nice greasy delicious hash-brown patties, hot and oily from the fryer. It's not so good for me, but one of them every now and then isn't so bad for me, either. But McDonald's doesn't want me to have one of them; it wants me to have two. Two for the price of one! Isn't that great! The drive-through order-taker is incredulous when I beg to just have one for the price of one. When I can have two! And two is better! This isn't a case of asking me to supersize. This is a case of insisting that I take more than I have asked for. I honestly have to argue with these people every time I order. Now, if I took the extra and threw it away, I'd feel like I was wasting food. And if I ate it, I'd blame no one else for that decision. But the forcing of extra food on people who don't want it -- that, I blame on McDonald's. Maybe Ronald's got ulterior motives after all.

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