I'm not eating at the 99

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The 99 is a medium-sized chain of basic American food eateries that's been around Greater Boston for ages. Up 'til now, it was never my first choice but I was willing to stop there if it seemed the best option in whatever strip mall I found myself in.

But until it takes down its current "craveworthy" ads, I will find somewhere else, and I will probably switch away from the radio station running them (98.5 The Sports Hub, I'm thinking of you). That's probably not the reaction they were going for.

Bob Hedlund: “It’s obviously not going to solve itself..."

As a new restaurant owner and assistant minority leader of the Massachusetts Senate, BOB HEDLUND, 49, of Weymouth is well situated to comment on politics and food. After I read his comments in the Boston Globe recently — especially that “the marketplace should determine what’s on restaurant menus, not the First Lady of the United States” — I asked if we could talk. Regular readers will recognize the format: questions and answers of 10 words or less. Please, no counting; it’s a goal, not a rule, and besides, let’s see you do it.

State Sen. Bob HedlundThe name of your restaurant: “Four Square.”

Where is it? “Weymouth Landing, Braintree.”

What kind of a place is it? “Beer and wine, with a very diverse menu.”

What’s your favorite dish, personally? “Beer.”

Have you ever had a weight problem? “No.”

Please rank obesity as a national problem, on a scale of 1-10: “Between a 7 and an 8.”

Do we need a solution for it? “It’s obviously not going to solve itself, but the answer does not lie solely with government.”

Taco Bell's PR campaign

I'll never forget the day in San Diego, in 2007, when I stopped into a Taco Bell (because I needed a bathroom) and saw its marketing banner touting "Fourth Meal," its bid to institutionalize a midnight meal into the American ethic. It remains a monument in my thinking to marketing brazenness, and I will never take TB seriously again.

Oh, those little eyeballs

Another excerpt from the f.a.c.t.s. report on childhood obesity from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale:

"Young people’s exposure to fast food TV ads has increased. Compared to 2003, preschoolers viewed 21 percent more fast food ads in 2009, children viewed 34 percent more, and teens viewed 39 percent more."

McDonald's sued over "happy meal"

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued McDonald's in California over the fast-food giant's use of toys as come-ons to kids to purchase their products.

According to an NPR dispatch, "The lawsuit asserts that under California's consumer protection laws, McDonald's toy advertising is deceptive. It targets children under 8 years old who don't have the ability to understand advertising."

Too effective for our own good

In the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity's recent f.a.c.t.s. report (which I'm highlighting as a continuing series), "40 percent of parents report that their children ask them to go to McDonald's at least once a week; 15 percent of preschoolers ask to go every day."

These kids today! Where do they get such ideas?

From McDonald's, of course, through its endless marketing efforts, which saturate TV but go far beyond it, to 13 websites, banner ads, and social media.

Toys shouldn't sell food

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Here's an approximation of a letter I sent to the San Francisco city supervisor who is the swing vote in an effort to bar toys from being used as incentives to purchase food:

One in three children born today will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Based on current rates of overweight and obesity, more will suffer a range of debilitating chronic diseases related to diet.


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