Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tommy and His Tropical Skittles

From the “Where Have We Gone Wrong?” Department:

The other night I was walking on a quiet, tree-lined street in a residential neighborhood of Manhattan known for its intellectual and progressive thinking. A 12-year-old boy (wearing a helmet) whizzed past me on his scooter. His mother, about 20 yards behind, was clutching a light blue, 2.17 ounce bag of “Tropical” Skittles.

“Hey, Tommy,” she bellowed, “come here and eat these . . . I want to get rid of them.”

Let’s take a moment to fully appreciate and dissect the absurdity and hypocritical nature of this statement.

On one level, the mother obviously cares about the well-being of her son, evidenced by his helmet-wearing. But in another vein, I should have made a citizen’s arrest for child abuse. How can anyone who makes her kid wear a helmet also logically force that kid to eat Skittles? Actually, forget the helmet—how could any mother in good conscience let her child eat Skittles in the first place?

According to the back of the bag, “Tropical” Skittles are “sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, apple juice from concentrate, less than 2% - citric acid, dextrin, gelatin, artificial and natural flavors, coloring (includes yellow 5 lake, yellow 6 lake, blue 1 lake, red 50 lake, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue1), food starch – modified, ascorbic acid (vitamin C).” I’m sure you can’t find most of this stuff at your local farmers market.

After eating the Skittles, there’s a good chance that Tommy couldn’t concentrate on his homework, was that much closer to his next cavity, further hampered his palate’s ability to taste real food, had a sugar rush that affected his body’s ability to regulate insulin, and didn’t eat a well-balanced dinner, therefore denying his body the proper nutrients it needs to properly ride his scooter. Thankfully, he’ll have his helmet on when he falls.

Oh, I almost forgot the “I want to get rid of them” comment. Lady, are you joking? The way you are going to get rid of the Skittles is by making your kid eat them? Were you trying to impress on little Tommy the import of not wasting food? That’s very noble, but wouldn’t the life lesson have been more valuable if it focused on the detrimental nature of junk food?

Good luck, Tommy.

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