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December 9th, 2009:

General Mills is making cereal less yummy [tragedy]

Vintage Lucky Charms

New packaging, less flavor

Cereal giant General Mills is reducing the sugar content in some of its leading breakfast cereals, according to a report by the AP.

Cereals targeted to be de-flavorized have their sugar content reduced include: Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Lucky Charms and others.

The move apparently comes after increased complaining by “health advocates” about the sweetness high sugar content of cereals marketed to children. (They are probably just bitter because they’re eating Grape Nuts).

Of course, breakfast cereal is one of the things that make America great and I am crushed that my personal favorite cereal, Lucky Charms, is going to taste a little less magically delicious.

I guess that’s just one less reason to get out of bed in the morning.

[Via TBM]

Why Happy Meals are safer than school lunches [fast food]

Happy Meal toy phase one.There is nothing the organic tofu crowd likes to complain about more than how fast food is harming our children. Fast food, they say, is making our kids sick and the “mystery meat” that goes into the burgers and sandwiches is below dog-food grade.

But it turns out that your kids eat much better meat when you take them through the drive-thru than they do in the school cafeteria.

This is according to an article in USA Today, which found that fast food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC buy higher quality meat than the stuff that ends up in our schools. What’s more, most fast food companies have much more rigorous testing and food safety regulations than what the USDA mandates for school cafeterias.

Of course this makes sense. McDonald’s has an incentive to serve your kids high-quality meat so that they come back and eat more Happy Meals. Schools, on the other hand, don’t particularly care if one or two kids disappear with E. coli poisoning—after all, it decreases class sizes.

And besides, how could something called a Happy Meal be bad for you?

[USA Today, via Consumerist]

These two maps look shockingly similar

Reader-mapI was looking over my blog readership stats on my Google Analytics account earlier today when I noticed that the global distribution of hits to my website over last quarter looked shockingly familiar. It took me a moment to realize why the map looked so familiar.

Then it came to me: the heavy concentration of readers in the United States, followed by Western Europe and the generally even sprinkling of readers across the rest of the globe (save for most of Africa, Central Asia, Burma and the crappy parts of Latin America) bears a striking resemblance to the map of global McDonald’s locations.

McDonalds-map-small

The only glaring difference is that the McDonald’s map shows the fast food giant as having outlets in Iceland. But McDonald’s is closing its three Icelandic outlets, so I don’t feel too bad about the lack of interest in this blog from what was once one of the world’s most prosperous countries.

I like to think that the close correlation between the two maps means that visitors are coming to this blog from places where the seed of Americanism—in the form of a McDonald’s restaurant—has taken root. But more likely than not it just has to do with rudimentary levels of development and internet access.

Michigan passes toothless ban to combat fake issue [cell phones bans]

Caught by Michigan State Police..

Did I see you texting when you were speeding by?

Yesterday the Michigan House of Representatives took a little break from grappling with a catastrophic budget crisis to ban texting while driving.

Prohibiting the use of cell phones in cars is not a particularly urgent issue. As I’ve written about before, despite the rapid proliferation of cell phones and texting, our roads today are safer than ever. The dramatic decline in fatalities in recent years is not just due to safer cars either. Americans are getting in far fewer car accidents each year than just a decade ago.

Of course, none of these pesky facts matter much to legislators. After all, the papers are filled with touching anecdotal stories about the dangers of drivers using cell phones. And if there is one thing that the latest cause de jour makes, its good politics—the more bullshit the issue the better!

The texting ban passed by the Michigan House doesn’t exactly have a lot of teeth. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the ban would make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means you could only be ticketed for it if the police pull you over for something else first and you happen to be dumb enough to continue tapping away at your cell phone when the officer approaches your car.

I guess it’s fitting that the Michigan responded to a fake issue with an empty gesture.

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