In a recent shareholder exchange, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson says “we don’t sell junk food” to the 9-year-old daughter of a nutrition blogger — a girl named Hannah, who confronted the restaurant chain’s chief exec during the meeting.
The girl who was told by the McDonald’s CEO that “we don’t sell junk food” is Hannah Robertson from Kelowna, British Columbia. Robertson and her mom flew in to Oak Brook, Illinois for the shareholder meeting during which the girl read off a statement about how McDonald’s marketing makes her angry.
And while anyone can appreciate the deleterious effects of frequent chicken nugget consumption on a child’s waistline, something about Hannah’s speech (which plugs her mom’s “Today I Ate A Rainbow” blog a fair few times) is really sanctimonious in a manipulative, parent with an agenda way.
Robertson begins, telling Thompson that the company tricks kids into eating “junk food” with toys and other inducements, pontificating:
“Something that I don’t think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn’t good for them by using toys and cartoon characters … It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time.”
“I make cooking videos with my mom that show kids that eating healthy can be fun and yummy. We teach them that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies makes kids healthier, smarter and happier because that is the truth … Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?”
Again, while few would argue McDonald’s isn’t junk food, few would also suggest it is okay to eat it very often at all. It’s not like the aim of McDonald’s is to cause kids to live a short and miserable life, and it doesn’t feel like this kid is speaking for anyone else but her mom — which is in its own way exploitative.
Thompson replied to Hannah, saying:
“We don’t sell junk food, Hannah … My kids also eat McDonald’s. When they were about your size, to my son who is with us today, who was a little bit bigger, he was a football player, and also they cook with me at home. I love to cook. We cook a lot of fruits and veggies at home.”
It’s probably fair to say that the McDonald’s CEO’s “we don’t sell junk food” line is technically inaccurate, as fries and nuggets aren’t the cornerstones of a healthy diet. But by the same token, not even McDonald’s itself ever suggested eating there all the time.