E-musing With CableFAX Daily Editor in Chief Amy Maclean
As the parent of a toddler, I’ve been following House Telecommunications Subcommittee chairman Ed Markey’s (D-MA) attempts to rein in junk food advertising aimed at kids.
McDonalds, Coca-Cola and General Mills are among the dozen or so companies that have pledged to restrict advertisements for unhealthy foods when it comes to children. Frankly, I’m more worried these days over what lead-paint laden, Fisher-Price Elmo figurine my daughter has put in her mouth, but one less Happy Meal to buy means one less "Made in China" plaything to add to our toy box.
But I began to grow a little concerned about Markey’s efforts when I saw his latest list of targets. "While Chuck E. Cheese is a prominent advertiser on children’s television, it is notably absent from the [advertising] initiative," Markey wrote earlier this month.
Has Rep. Markey ever been to Chuck E. Cheese? They serve pizza. Virtually everything on the menu is unhealthy. But kids don’t go there to eat the rubbery pizza. It’s for the Skee-Ball, the Whack-A-Mole, the video games, the guy dressed up like a rat (er, mouse) running around the dining room. It’s "where a kid can be a kid."
Chuck E. Cheese is also where we’re going to hold my daughter’s birthday party in a month-and-a-half. I already get some dirty stares if I don’t buy organic bananas or if I do serve hot dogs for dinner one night. Am I now going to become the mom who dared to send party invites to the den of cheese-filled iniquity?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for shoving a bunch of trans fat down my kid’s throat, but isn’t Chuck E. Cheese that special, occasional treat? Aren’t some things good just because they’re bad? And while I am not a fan of sugar-filled ad blitzes, things have changed a lot since I was a kid.
Have you watched Sesame Street lately? Cookie Monster is eating vegetables—gasp!—and using portion control when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. As for the commercials Markey’s attempting to shield kids from, I don’t think my daughter’s ever seen one, thanks to DVRs and VOD.
By the way, Chuck E. Cheese wasn’t the only company Markey recently wrote and asked to join the fight on fat. Also on the list was Dannon. Yes, the yogurt maker. Are Danimals really to blame for pudgy third graders?
On the whole, I’m OK with a little less GRRRRRrrreatness from Tony the Tiger. And I can accept a SpongeBob-free Burger King. But if no one RSVPs yes to my daughter’s birthday party, we’re going to have to have a talk with Chairman Markey.