What is Happiness?

In church this weekend our pastor had a very good and straight-forward message asking us, what is happiness and can you be happy without god?

The message was to say that even though you may think that having lots of money or good health or a great family is what defines happiness, the truth is that without god none of that is possible and only through him can you truly be happy. I truly believe that.

However, the point of this post isn’t to preach a sermon to you. Your religious beliefs are your own. But it really got me thinking about some things. Now here is where you will have to just stick with me for a moment. Yesterday I read an article that talked about Pizza Hut’s Book It program and how many critics, mainly politicians, as well as educators and other so-called “Child Experts” are saying that the Book It program is “promoting bad eating habits and turning teachers into corporate promoters.”  They go so far as to say that “In the name of education, it promotes junk food consumption to a captive audience … and undermines parents by positioning family visits to Pizza Hut as an integral component of raising literate children.”

I can say that I can sort of understand their positioning here, however the program gives a student a reward of a single personal pan pizza for reading a certain number of books in a month, which is a goal set by the individual teachers according to the Pizza Hut Book It guidelines. So if a student reaches their goal of books read, the kid and usually his/her family go out once a month and have a pizza dinner at Pizza Hut. This is a terrific marketing plan for Pizza Hut who gives away one personal pan pizza which is about $3 to $4 bucks in value and of course the family comes in and buys pizza for the rest of the family, which I would assume is in the $20 to $30 range. So Pizza Hut wins out because it brings in more customers for them for a very small investment of a $4 pizza, which I guarantee does not cost them $4 to make. I also feel that the student wins because it does in fact get them reading more, even if they are reading a little easier books just to try to reach the goal for a free pizza once a month. This isn’t a contest to see how fast we can get grade school aged kids to read “War and Peace” or “Moby Dick”, the point is to just get them interested in reading again. So, here we have a win-win situation.

Critics argue, as you saw above, that it isn’t right to teach a kid that the only reason to read is for a free pizza. Honestly I don’t think most kids that participate in the Book It program would totally give up reading if all of a sudden they didn’t get a free pizza. I feel that the program helps to give kids a reason to try reading and it allows them to have that “a-ha” moment when they realize that reading is actually really enjoyable. And besides, lets face it. No one is going to get huge and obese by eating just one personal pan pizza per month. Sure it probably isn’t the best for you, but at a rate of just one per month, it isn’t really going to hurt you either.

Of course Pizza Hut isn’t the only place under attack in the finger pointing war on childhood obesity. Many schools are pulling all soda, candy and other junk food from the vending machines and pretty much every fast food chain out there is under attack and are trying to offer more health conscience foods on their menu’s, for example the big salads at McDonalds, which by the way have just as many calories as the traditional fare such as the Big Mac.

Now, to tie this all together for you.

The reason I thought about these two very seperate topics was because I went and ate lunch at our local Arby’s today and I was reminded of the very expensive image and marketing campaign that they are currently using. You know the one…. The, “is it wrong to think Arby’s all the time?, NO” campaign. Because I work in marketing I couldn’t help but wonder if they would try to do a complete overhaul on everything they have been trying to build recently just to try and avoid as much heat from the critics as possible. Personally I don’t think they should because my feeling is that if you don’t want your kids to eat all the fast food, tell them no or just never bring them to eat it. Simple as that. Remember, you are the parent here. Plus if they pull everything they might as well just start closing stores now because after all, it is a business. There is a lot of competition in that business and they want to make money so they need to make Arby’s sound as tantalizing as they can so that they can retain a solid share of the market. If no one goes there, business is bad and they go belly up.

I do need to mention here that I realize I probably sound a little hypocritical there because as many of you know I don’t cook at home all that often. I have been eating at home more recently and working on making it a regular thing, but I am trying to break a habit that was years in the making while I was in college and a little younger on my own so I never cooked much back then.

Ok, that being said I will continue. So as I am sitting there at Arby’s enjoying a very tasty flat-bread beef fajita sandwhich and some curly fries, I looked at the label on the curly fry box thingy and they have a woman who is obviously happy with a caption above her head that said it all….

“Happiness is only a curly fry away”

I guess someone should pass this message on to not only our pastor but to every pastor out there, heck even have the bibles reprinted to reflect this obvious answer that has been hiding right here in front of us this whole time. We don’t need God, we just need curly fries….From now on when someone asks me, “What is Happiness?” I am going to simply say that it is only a curly fry away.

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