Children, as I’m sure I have mentioned before, are ruthless negotiators. They are little capitalist bastards, and will use whatever leverage at their disposal to get whatever it is that they want. And, when they are in a petrol station, they want confectionary.
Over the weekend, I witnessed an illustration of this phenomenon. A child thrust an enormous slab of Galaxy at his long-suffering father, who responded immediately:
“You are not having that.”
As you might imagine, this did not go down well. But, to his credit, this man remained steadfast in his decision, no matter how many times the child attempted to pick the monolithic confectionary back up again. He was similarly unmoved at the other tactics the child employed, such as openly declaring that his utter hatred of his father, and bursting into tears.
Now, I am not a parent (nor does the idea appeal after witnessing this debacle), but a number of suggestions did spring to mind:
- Relent, buy the chocolate. That’ll shut the little rascal up.
- Do not buy the chocolate. This will result in an enormous and embarrassing tantrum.
- Buy the chocolate. Buy all of the chocolate on the shelf and make the child eat it until physically sick. Laugh.
Now, while option 3 might seem the more effective, it would probably constitute child abuse, and so must be ruled out. This leaves us with options 1 and 2. Out of these, option 2 is undoubtedly preferable; but, depending on the magnitude of the potential tantrum, it might result in psychological trauma that the exhausted parent would rather avoid. So I can see why option 1 would be tempting for some.
I went to research this particular chocolate bar on the Galaxy web site, only to find my way blocked by the age restrictions they have placed there. Yes, that’s right, I had to confirm my age to find out about chocolate. We live in a world where a child can access hardcore pornography with greater ease than he can the nutritional information for a bar of Galaxy. And yet, while porn remains tantalisingly out of reach, the chocolate sits on a shelf at a height where any child might reach up, with his sticky fat fingers, and grasp it. Mmmmmmm.
By some bizarre coincidence, that haggard old inanity-monger Katie Hopkins also had something to say over the weekend about the topic of children and their appetites. You might remember this woman: was once on ‘The Apprentice’; now appears every so often on ‘This Morning’ to spout some inane contrarian drivel of the sort that should really be left to proper, qualified spouters of inane contrarian drivel.
Anyway, this woman, doubtless keen that her name trend on Twitter again (which it did), declared that it is fine to call your child ‘fat’. Presumably only if it actually is fat. This seems, superficially, quite reasonable, provided we leave to one side the psychological trauma this statement would inflict on the fat kid.
I’m not sure if any of you have ever tried informing a fat person that they are fat. It is the sort of thing that, in my experience, rarely goes down well. They tend to burst into tears, or not talk to you for a while, or post some ambiguous message on their social network of choice. I suspect the result of the proposed ‘honest’ strategy in the short, medium and long term would be to transform our hypothetical fat kid into a traumatised fat kid rather than the healthy kid which is supposedly our objective. I suspect, as far as Katie Hopkins is concerned, the objective is to satiatee her appetite for excessive cruelty. Therefore, while I’m sure that excessive cruelty does in some roundabout way confer some benefit to the victim, you loathsome despicable manatee, I shall give the whingers the benefit of the doubt and refrain from the use of the word ‘fat’ for the remainder of this posting. See if it makes you feel any better about things.
Let’s rewind a little, to the incident I was at first describing. The chocolate bar in question was rather large. It was bigger than big. It was gigantic. And when I got into the site, I found that the actual contents of the bar were not listed; they only listed it ‘per 100g’, thus ensuring that anyone who isn’t very good at maths is far more likely to become monstrously obese. Well, I’ve done the maths for you. With a calculator.
So, within this borderline half-kilo slab of chocolate, we have the daily caloric intake for an adult woman, largely constituted by an amount of sugar sufficient to kill a medium-sized rodent. God help the parent that elects for option 1 in this instance, and gives this monstrosity to their child in the hope that it will shut their chubby mouths for the day; whatever respite this concession might buy them will last an hour at most, since when that glucose hits the bloodstream they will invariably transform into an unbearable hyperactive gremlin.
Now, I realise that this portion of chocolate is not designed to be consumed in one sitting, or by a single human being. Chocolate bought in this quantity should, rather, be used for industrial purposes, or for making a giant cake that many people might enjoy. Why then, you might reasonably ask, is it sitting on a shelf next to all the normal chocolate?
I say normal chocolate, what we sell is not really normal chocolate by the standards of a few decades ago. If you were to invent a time machine and offer someone a ‘man-sized’ Yorkie to someone in the year 1971, they would probably consider the man of the future to be one of outrageous greed (and massively diminished stature). But since then some concerted chocolate-industry propaganda campaign has driven up the acceptable portion size for a bar of chocolate to record levels.
They’ve tried to legislate against this, but clearly the market is a great deal smarter than whatever lumbering government body charged with the task of curbing this obesity epidemic. They tried to stop the sale of ‘giant size’ bars of chocolate, but the chocolatiers swiftly circumvented this particular obstacle by selling bars of chocolate in neat little ‘dual’ packages, each containing two pieces of chocolate.
The chocolatiers claimed that this promoted eating less chocolate, because the chocolate-eater would, having eaten the first piece of chocolate, give the second to a friend. The promotional material that subsequently appeared on television somewhat belied this. A typical example ran as follows:
A woman is eating chocolate, in the overtly salacious manner that only people eating chocolate in these sorts of advertisement are capable. A voiceover announces that, having eaten one of the bars of chocolate, there will be another one ‘to share’. The camera pans out, to reveal the woman is quite alone. She has no need of friends. She has two bars of chocolate. Woman stuffs both pieces of chocolate in her mouth simultaneously.
Yes; wink, wink. One for you, and one for your friend. You are disgusting, chocolate. And delicious. I’m eating chocolate right now.
I think this must be part of some sinister conspiracy to make us all obese. Some sort of Pavlovian experiment, yes. We’re all just rats in a cage. Or dogs? Dogs, whatever. This conspiracy, if it exists, it must be said is massively successful, because we westerners are pudgier than ever, as demonstrated here.
So why are we getting flabbier? Did human nature change? Did we all become a little bit greedier? Did we lose our taste (mmmm….tasty) for good old-fashioned being mean to one another? Well no. It’s obviously that there is a great deal more sugar (of the processed sort) on offer, and so we are eating (and drinking) more of it. The solution, therefore, is to simply make yourself aware of this fact, and resist the urge to eat quite so much chocolate.
If we’ve gotten to this stage, anyway, all of this is an exercise in damage limitation. If your kid is already tubby, then it’s probably at least partly your fault. Stop giving it chocolate, I beg of you. I can already envisage the vastly-depleted NHS of the future quaking beneath the weight of its blubbery folds.
Go for option 2.
Mmmmmmm. This has made me very hungry, anyway. I might eat some chocolate.
Until next week.