Helpful Business Advice from the New York Times

If you are the nation's preeminent fast food purveyor, no good deed goes unpunished -- by the New York Times.

McDonald's recently introduced a new menu item which it calls "Fruit & Maple Oatmeal." With just 4.5 grams of fat per serving, the dish offers one-sixth the fat of Mickey D's "Hotcakes and Sausage" and one-third the fat of an "Egg McMuffin."  At 290 calories, it's half as fattening as a "Sausage Biscuit with Egg" or "Steak Egg and Cheese Bagel."  It even includes a serving of fresh fruit, including skin-on apple.

So you'd think a self-styled food activist like Mark Bittman of the New York Times would praise McDonald's to the skies for this initiative, and call for an encore.  But guess what!  What Bittman in fact did on the Times pages was to excoriate McDonald's for poisoning our children with toxic sludge concealed as oatmeal.

In a piece that is over 900 words long, the word "fat" does not appear once. Not once!  Bittman totally ignores the primary criticism aimed at McDonald's menu, namely that it is high-fat and contributing to American obesity, and doesn't give even a backhanded compliment to the company for introducing a relatively low-fat item (and spending prodigiously on advertising to promote it).

The word "fiber" appears in Bittman's piece only once, in reference to another company's product. But with 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is the second-highest-fiber item on the McDonalds breakfast menu (after Hot Cakes).  Not a single punctuation mark is devoted by Bittman to praising McDonalds for dramatically increasing the fiber content of its menu.

But the word "sugar" appears many, many times.  That's because it's how Bittman chooses to mercilessly and one-sidedly attack McDonalds oatmeal as "expensive junk food."

While it's true that a bowl of Fruit & Maple Oatmeal with brown sugar is one of the highest sugar items on the breakfast menu, it's not the highest.  A plate of Hotcakes with syrup has 46 grams of sugar.  A bowl of Fruit & Maple Oatmeal with brown sugar has just 32 grams, one third less, and the Hotcakes (without sausage) have twice as much fat as the oatmeal and half the fiber.

Bittman tells you none of this, in a classic example of "reporting" by the Gray Lady. There are no doubt any number of clever, hard-working, fair-minded people working for her, but there are also a shocking number of dishonest, amoral zealots who think nothing of perverting the paper's pages for the advancement of a crass personal agenda.

Bittman wrote McDonalds and asked them: "Why could you not make oatmeal with nothing more than real oats and plain water, and offer customers a sweetener or two (honey, the only food on earth that doesn't spoil, would seem a natural fit for this purpose), a packet of mixed dried fruit, and half-and-half or - even better - skim milk?"

The company answered politely, but if I had been answering Bittman's email for the company, I would have replied:  "Because, you stupid dumbass, our customers wouldn't buy that. They'd choose other items which would be way, way higher in fat and much lower in fiber.  If we did what you say, the fat consumed by our customers would go up and their fiber intake would fall and the oatmeal would rot our shelves. Duh."

Bittman actually thinks that a bowl of oatmeal with a little honey and skim milk is a delicious treat that people will flock to McDonalds to scarf up.  That's the mindset of the New York Times, and why the paper is so frighteningly out of touch with real America. Little wonder that it's failing so badly in every measurable way.

As disturbing as I found the content of Bittman's "analysis," reading the reader comments upon it was even  more unsettling.  Say what you like about Bittman, he certainly does know how to give Times readers what they want.  With the clear echo of the KKK or the witch trials, Times readers fell over themselves rushing to bash the company, apparently filled with glee at the chance to trash yet another basic American institution.

But let's be perfectly clear:  Bittman wants McDonalds to go out of business.  He wants people to cook for themselves, and to cook the kind of food he himself likes to eat, regardless of what they like or want.  So if he's giving McDonalds the kind of advice that would drive them out of business, that's fine by him.

Just who is Mark Bittman, anyway? Reading his biography on Nytimes.com won't tell you a blessed thing about his background or credentials. What education does he have, or other formal qualifications to lecture his fellow citizens about nutrition? None is specified. He has never, so far as one can tell, run any kind of successful business, much less given pleasure to billions worldwide the way McDonalds has.

And his bitter inability to recognize McDonalds for making a serious effort to improve the eating habits of its customers is truly venal.  By encouraging McDonalds to give up and go out of business, he is actively contributing to the problems he claims to be fighting against.  Indeed, it seems that given the choice of losing Mickey D or the Gray Lady, America would be far better served by choosing the latter.


If you are the nation's preeminent fast food purveyor, no good deed goes unpunished -- by the New York Times.

McDonald's recently introduced a new menu item which it calls "Fruit & Maple Oatmeal." With just 4.5 grams of fat per serving, the dish offers one-sixth the fat of Mickey D's "Hotcakes and Sausage" and one-third the fat of an "Egg McMuffin."  At 290 calories, it's half as fattening as a "Sausage Biscuit with Egg" or "Steak Egg and Cheese Bagel."  It even includes a serving of fresh fruit, including skin-on apple.

So you'd think a self-styled food activist like Mark Bittman of the New York Times would praise McDonald's to the skies for this initiative, and call for an encore.  But guess what!  What Bittman in fact did on the Times pages was to excoriate McDonald's for poisoning our children with toxic sludge concealed as oatmeal.

In a piece that is over 900 words long, the word "fat" does not appear once. Not once!  Bittman totally ignores the primary criticism aimed at McDonald's menu, namely that it is high-fat and contributing to American obesity, and doesn't give even a backhanded compliment to the company for introducing a relatively low-fat item (and spending prodigiously on advertising to promote it).

The word "fiber" appears in Bittman's piece only once, in reference to another company's product. But with 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is the second-highest-fiber item on the McDonalds breakfast menu (after Hot Cakes).  Not a single punctuation mark is devoted by Bittman to praising McDonalds for dramatically increasing the fiber content of its menu.

But the word "sugar" appears many, many times.  That's because it's how Bittman chooses to mercilessly and one-sidedly attack McDonalds oatmeal as "expensive junk food."

While it's true that a bowl of Fruit & Maple Oatmeal with brown sugar is one of the highest sugar items on the breakfast menu, it's not the highest.  A plate of Hotcakes with syrup has 46 grams of sugar.  A bowl of Fruit & Maple Oatmeal with brown sugar has just 32 grams, one third less, and the Hotcakes (without sausage) have twice as much fat as the oatmeal and half the fiber.

Bittman tells you none of this, in a classic example of "reporting" by the Gray Lady. There are no doubt any number of clever, hard-working, fair-minded people working for her, but there are also a shocking number of dishonest, amoral zealots who think nothing of perverting the paper's pages for the advancement of a crass personal agenda.

Bittman wrote McDonalds and asked them: "Why could you not make oatmeal with nothing more than real oats and plain water, and offer customers a sweetener or two (honey, the only food on earth that doesn't spoil, would seem a natural fit for this purpose), a packet of mixed dried fruit, and half-and-half or - even better - skim milk?"

The company answered politely, but if I had been answering Bittman's email for the company, I would have replied:  "Because, you stupid dumbass, our customers wouldn't buy that. They'd choose other items which would be way, way higher in fat and much lower in fiber.  If we did what you say, the fat consumed by our customers would go up and their fiber intake would fall and the oatmeal would rot our shelves. Duh."

Bittman actually thinks that a bowl of oatmeal with a little honey and skim milk is a delicious treat that people will flock to McDonalds to scarf up.  That's the mindset of the New York Times, and why the paper is so frighteningly out of touch with real America. Little wonder that it's failing so badly in every measurable way.

As disturbing as I found the content of Bittman's "analysis," reading the reader comments upon it was even  more unsettling.  Say what you like about Bittman, he certainly does know how to give Times readers what they want.  With the clear echo of the KKK or the witch trials, Times readers fell over themselves rushing to bash the company, apparently filled with glee at the chance to trash yet another basic American institution.

But let's be perfectly clear:  Bittman wants McDonalds to go out of business.  He wants people to cook for themselves, and to cook the kind of food he himself likes to eat, regardless of what they like or want.  So if he's giving McDonalds the kind of advice that would drive them out of business, that's fine by him.

Just who is Mark Bittman, anyway? Reading his biography on Nytimes.com won't tell you a blessed thing about his background or credentials. What education does he have, or other formal qualifications to lecture his fellow citizens about nutrition? None is specified. He has never, so far as one can tell, run any kind of successful business, much less given pleasure to billions worldwide the way McDonalds has.

And his bitter inability to recognize McDonalds for making a serious effort to improve the eating habits of its customers is truly venal.  By encouraging McDonalds to give up and go out of business, he is actively contributing to the problems he claims to be fighting against.  Indeed, it seems that given the choice of losing Mickey D or the Gray Lady, America would be far better served by choosing the latter.


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