Wendy’s Is Removing Soda From Their Kid’s Meal Menu, And Let’s Try To Focus On The Bigger Picture
Looks like Wendy‘s is the latest fast-food chain to take soda and fountain drinks off the menu for kids, according to USA Today. I assume this is a decision made in the interest in encouraging healthier choices for kids and helping to discourage childhood obesity. Obviously, the deep-fried EVERYTHING on fast-food menus for kids does nothing to demonstrate healthier diet choices, and ultimately it’s up to parents to distinguish between making fast food a way of life vs. an occasional treat (for kids and busy, time-strapped parents alike, I imagine). You might say this is a baby step, and possibly even a laughable one because Wendy’s says if a parent chooses to order a soda to accompany the meal, “they won’t be turned down.” Which is exactly how McDonald‘s is handling their “removal” of fountain drinks from Happy Meals.
But let’s step back a minute and take a look at the bigger picture here, shall we? The all-encompassing message here is that soda (quick distraction: I’m from Pittsburgh and we say “pop”… even typing out “s-o-d-a” is foreign to me) is not a healthy drink option for children. Or anyone. But especially kids. There is exactly zero nutritional value in a fountain drink, and offering toddlers and small kids a Mountain Dew or Pepsi only serves to trigger bad habits. Why? Because the taste of soda is AWESOME to kids. It’s sugary and carbonated and it’s a perfectly delicious sidekick to salty fries and chicken nuggets made from cardboard and slime. I know because my parents often let me drink Coke or Pepsi as a kid. We always had a two-liter in the house, and I always begged for pop with my (rare) Happy Meals and such. As an adult, one of the hardest habits I’ve ever tried (many times) to break (and failed many times) is drinking pop. Because I’ve been drinking it for as long as I can remember.
Alternatively, when my little sister was born almost 7 years after me, my parents had figured out that maybe pop wasn’t a great diet choice for their second child. So she drank a lot of water. And to this day she isn’t a fan of soda unless she has an upset stomach and drinks some ginger ale.
Now I’m not trying to say that because of these personal situations, every child/adult out there is destined for the same experience. I’m also not making a blanket-y, judge-y statement about parents who choose to give their child access to soda here and there. I’m just saying that while Wendy’s will never be a place to eat healthily, the bigger message they are sharing about soda and kids is a solid one. Even if they still offer Frosties.