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Cupcakes are as American as apple pie. After all, when’s the last time you baked an apple pie? That long, huh ... but I’d be willing to bet that you’ve at least thrown some Duncan Hines cupcakes in that rarely used oven for a friend or child’s birthday. I’m already planning on bringing cupcakes to my daughter’s school Halloween party.
The mini-cakes represent happy childhood memories of birthday parties and celebrations with friends and family. Cupcakes are an icon of blissful delight. They even represent democracy … everyone gets their own! This adorable dessert has recently experienced a resurgence into a land of trendiness where cupcakistas and baked-goods aristocrats obsess over them for $2 a pop! Ever since the Sex and the City gals snacked on those chic pink cupcakes in front of NYC's famous Magnolia bakery, we haven’t been able to get them off our minds.
So, knowing the special place cupcakes hold in the world, you might be surprised to know that cupcakes are being sent to the front-lines in America’s war against obesity and diabetes! Schools across the nation are threatening to take cupcakes out of classrooms due to their lack of nutritional value, high fat and sugar content. However, I say that their emotional value truly outweighs their “fatten faux-pas!”
Over the past few decades, our nation has become increasingly concerned with the health of our citizens, and that’s great! With increased cases of obesity and diabetes among our youth, policies to promote nutritional wellness certainly seem obligatory at this point. However, is banning birthday treats from classrooms the best place to start? I think not! The cupcake isn’t the problem here. Annual birthday treats aren’t what’s making this nation obese and I will not allow cupcakes to be made a scape-cake for obesity!
The problem of obesity and diabetes goes much deeper than birthday cake. Kids are sitting at home day after day in front of the TV or the computer, playing video games and just “vegging” (and I don’t mean carrots and celery). Parents allow their kids to stuff their faces with fast food and watch them crunch mindlessly on chips without ever telling them to go play outside and get some exercise. Banning birthday delicacies is only a fraction of the problem. Our efforts would better be spent encouraging more physical activity and exercise while allowing treats in moderation.
Despite arguments that the cupcake shouldn’t be sacrificed in this sweet fight to better our nutrition, many counties in several states across the nation including, New York, New Jersey, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Connecticut are enacting plans to prohibit unhealthy treats in the classroom. These districts argue that eating sweets (and overeating sweets) is something that can be done at home and that schools should promote healthy eating habits. They argue that good nutrition should start in the classroom and believe that these baby-cakes are key offenders in raising the nation’s obesity cases. They also don’t want food being used as a reward and instead encourage special privileges or games as classroom rewards.
This is just getting ridiculous — birthday classroom treats are just the icing on our country’s diet problems. Cupcakes are not an enemy! They’re party of an annual birthday tradition and party favors for celebration. They should be allowed to remain in classrooms. At least people down in Texas agree with me! Texas Legislature has even passed the “Safe Cupcake Amendment!” It’s not just about the taste or the experience, it’s about happy memories they create. I always look back fondly when I remember baking cupcakes with my grandma and devouring a few before I passed them out to my friends for my birthday and would venture to say that most of you have too. Is banning birthday cake really where we’re going to start to fight our battle for good nutrition? I mean, doesn’t Congress know that nothing has calories on your birthday anyway?
Reactions to this darling dilemma have been mixed. Some parents who are stark believers in good nutrition don’t want sugary treats served to their youngsters. Surely there must be room for compromise though? Perhaps limiting birthday treats to one day a month and on that day all the children with birthdays that month corroborate and bring snacks together? This would then eliminate the chance of allowing our children to have, GASP, three cupcakes a month!
I mean, is it me, or does replacing birthday cake with carrots seem ludi-Kris-py-Kreme? What’s next on Congress’ agenda for our nation’s schools? No child with a fat behind? While I agree that our nation as a whole needs to make a change and learn to live a healthier lifestyle, cupcakes aren’t the place to start! They’re just kids! So come on, on their birthday, let ‘em eat cake!
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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.