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Yoni Goldstein Headshot

Let Kids Eat Junk: They'll Hate You Less

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Children aren't particularly sensible, that's why they need adults. As a former child myself, I speak from experience. For example, as a young person, staring at a TV all night the night before a math test, a subject that even I knew required revision and practice to master, seemed a perfectly reasonable course of action. So did not wearing a helmet while biking because it didn't look "cool." If adults hadn't pointed me in the right direction, my brain would have definitely turned to mush -- metaphorically and/or literally -- long before I got out of high school.

But there's a difference between grown-up sensibility, which can appear as meanness to kids but is actually in their best interest, and grown-up cruelty. Banning junk food from schools, as Calgary's public schools did this week isn't mean, it's just about the cruelest torture an adult can inflict on a child.

School is the child's ultimate enemy. It forces kids to wake up early, spend every day of the week listening to useless teachers drone on about useless facts and figures, review said useless information again after the school day is done to fulfill the idiotic institution of homework, and then spew it all back to prove that they've "learned."

It is torture -- school is literally the last thing a kid wants to do. Surely you must remember the torture of school, how it made you wish for the day when it would be over forever, when you would be old enough just to not have to go to school. How did you ever manage to survive?

Junk food, that's how. Millions of children in this country alone made it through their school years on the strength of candy. Junk food speaks the language of children, it consoles them, it gives them the strength to carry on. It tastes so good -- the heavenly sugar and explosions of salt overwhelm the taste buds unlike any other food ever made. All that stuff that's supposed to be bad for kids actually is probably saving the world from an epidemic of 10-year-old drop-out meth addicts. That's what will happen if junk food is banned from schools.

For kids, junk food is an ideology. It represents, to use a very adult term, otherness -- biting into a chocolate bar is an act of rebellion against the tyranny of the grownups, who are always preaching about eating healthily and rotting teeth. Kids don't deny that it's more "junk" than "food," but that's the whole point -- as a kid, you don't want to do the sensible thing, you only want to do things that feel good. And biting into a peanut butter cup just feels so right.

Jerry Seinfeld sums up the kid-candy relationship well in one of his stand-up routines: "The only thought I had, growing up, was 'get ... candy.' That was my only thought in my brain for the first 10 years of human life. Just get candy, get candy, get candy, get candy, get candy, get candy. Family, friends, school, these were just obstacles in the way of getting more candy." He's right: Junk food, when you're a kid, is the raison d'etre. Take away junk food, and the world's a pretty dark place to a 10 year old.

Banning junk food in schools is such a grownup move. Yes, it makes perfect sense -- because some kids who eat a lot of junk food become fat and sickly, which leaves them open to crippling ridicule, and probably a second-rate career and generally being taken less seriously than skinny people -- but it just proves what kids have suspected for centuries: that adults are heartless sadists bent on making kids' lives miserable.

Adults of the world, there is still time to reverse this fascist embargo on junk food before it spreads beyond Calgary. Reverse the ban, allow candy and chocolate and potato chips and soft drinks back into your prisons -- excuse me, schools.

It's the right thing to do, and kids will be grateful. So grateful, in fact, that they'll probably hate you and all your mean edicts just a bit less than they do now.

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