The crack in the Liberty Bell just got a little wider. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today that many of the region’s elementary schools are tightening the noose on cupcakes and other treats at birthday parties and other special occasions. Presumably, without these efforts schools would fatten up children until they are fit only to appear on The Biggest Loser (Junior Edition). The Inquirer reports one local food cop’s justification: “There are a million ways to celebrate that don’t have to include cupcakes.” What The Inquirer didn’t report is that hundreds of thousands of those ways are lame.
Predictably, the article features Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, previously seen dropping the hammer on cupcakes around the nation’s capital. Wootan complained that food in the classroom has “gotten out of control,” apparently ignorant of the fact that kids weren’t exactly eating birthday carrots twenty years ago. “We don’t want to sound like the cupcake police,” Wootan continued, “but let’s be reasonable.” Of course CSPI doesn’t want to sound like the cupcake police — if people realized that’s what they are, it would limit their ability to police cupcakes.
A story in yesterday’s Wisconsin State Journal brings out a few voices of moderation to balance out this rather silly debate. Speaking in opposition to a proposed candy ban in his school district, the head of a parent-teacher organization told the Journal: “You can’t legislate responsibility.” The Journal also unearthed a gem in speaking to Addrena Squires, who runs the student store at Hamilton Middle School in Madison:
The kids don’t eat it every day and you have to have something sweet every once in a while. . . . I know kids have to watch their weight, but to deprive them of candy, chips and gum, I think, is outrageous.