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Culture Wed Mar 31 2010
First off, let me admit- I occasionally indulge myself in a McDonald's cheeseburger and french fries, and when the Shamrock Shake made its 2010 Spring debut, I made a special trip for the frosty green milkshake.
But when I arrived at the Grand and State redline stop this afternoon, before I could even consider indulging in my McCraving, I was confronted by a Ronald McDonald-esque clown and a group of smiling activists armed with posters and petitions. These folks are part of Corporate Accountability International- a group of people that take action against corporate powerhouses to challenge abuse and protect people's rights. Their latest endeavor is the "Value the Meal" campaign, which is "challenging corporate abuse of our food." CAI is asking that McDonald's retire its cultural icon- Ronald McDonald, a character that is widely recognized by children around the world. They claim that McDonald's is directly targeting children by using Ronald McDonald, thus encouraging kids to eat unhealthy fast food. The flyer they were handing out lists some interesting facts about the impact that this clown character has on our youth, stating that "Ronald is one of the most recognized and effective icons in marketing to children, setting them up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits and ultimately, chronic disease."
Illinois is home to McDonald's headquarters, so when I tried to avoid listing my address on the petition, they made sure I knew the importance of Chicagoans having a noticeable voice in their campaign against Ronald McDonald.
I probably won't write McDonald's off my list of occasional indulgences completely, but I do hope that the Golden Arches find it in their heart to stop targeting our youth with the cartoon clown that we've all known since our very first Happy Meal.