"As a culture, we’re impatient with bothersome facts that impede our path to immediate gratification," said actress and writer Robyn Okrant at The Paper Machete. "Not even the wise old owl could wait to find out the exact amount of licks it takes to get the center of a Tootsie Pop. Numbers bog us down. They cramp our style." Most specifically, numbers like those that McDonald's is being required to post, explaining the calorie counts of their food. Read an excerpt below or listen above:
Breaking news. McDonald’s isn’t the bastion of healthy eating that we’ve been led to believe. No, no, it’s true. Sit back down. Hear me out.
Last week, all McDonald’s restaurants posted calorie counts for its dangerously addictive food (I use the term “food” loosely, but the term “dangerously addictive” literally). In this selfless, humanitarian display of concern for unhealthy American diners, Micky D’s menus now lists calories for every food and beverage item, in hopes its ever-expanding customers don’t plummet through the earth’s crust. And by “selfless humanitarian display of concern” I mean they were mandated to do this by an Obama healthcare law which says all restaurants with more than 20 locations must clearly post the nutritional facts about their food.
Chains like Panera, Outback Steakhouse, Panda Express (even Starbucks is not above this) will publicly disclose the eye-popping calorie totals of our favorite treats. Spoiler alert: When you see the calories for a Bloomin’ Onion, you’re gonna have a heart attack. Or you’ll have one after you eat it. One way or another, you're going to have a heart attack.
While the calorie posting regulation doesn’t go into effect until later this year, McDonald’s chose to be the pioneer of the nutritional disclosure frontier. Health-watchers ponder if posting nutritional facts will induce customers to make healthier choices. Didn’t we know all along that burgers and fries are not a nutritious meal, but still ordered them anyway? I don’t know the temperature of a lit match, but I do know not to put it in my eye.
Does the cold hard truth served up in the form of numbers really make a bit of difference to Americans? Let’s ask all the semi-truck drivers who have gotten their rigs stuck under the overpass near my home. They read the clearance heights, but still chose to “just go for it” instead of choosing a sensible alternative.
Note: the audio for this piece mistakenly stated the current U.S. National Debt. It is $16 trillion.
The Paper Machete is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 pm., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your The Paper Machete Radio Magazine needs filled here, or download the podcast from iTunes here.