Is yogurt worth arguing over?
Is yogurt worth arguing over?
Lexile

The New York Senate's debate about declaring yogurt the state's official snack was intended to teach a fourth-grade class about government. But it became a lesson on legislative silliness from David Lettermen and Jon Stewart.

The Senate spent 45 minutes this week debating the merits of the legislation, which was introduced at the urging of students from a dairy-producing area in western New York.

Before passing the bill, senators mulled the distinction between snacks and meals and whether other snacks were more deserving.

"What exactly are we defining as a snack?" asked Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat from the Bronx.

"I think it's self-explanatory. I mean, you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then you have snacks," said the bill's Republican sponsor, Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer.

"Did you consider, say, the potato chip?" Rivera asked, posing the same question about raisins and pretzels. He then asked: "What if the pretzel was dipped in yogurt?"

Letterman and Stewart skewered the exchange on their shows, with Letterman playing video from the debate as part of a segment called "New York State: Your Tax Dollars at Work."

Stewart called the deliberations "maybe the best 40 minutes" of legislative debate ever.

"Even the fourth graders who brought this up in the first place are like, 'They're still talking about the state snack?'" Stewart said.

Some of the frivolity was staged as a parliamentary protest.

Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, wrote on Facebook that she asked silly questions including one about the bill's implications for lactose-intolerant New Yorkers to criticize the priorities of Senate leaders. If Senate leaders "make us talk about yogurt, then that's what we'll talk about until they give us something better to do," she wrote.

New York is America's largest yogurt producer. Genesee County, home to the elementary students who suggested the bill, is home to dairy farms and yogurt plants that employ hundreds.

"We're a dairy farming community, and there's huge pride in that," said Casey Kosiorek, the local superintendent of schools. "This has been a chance for some true authentic learning."

Ranzenhofer, of Amherst, took the ribbing in stride.

"I'm sure every employee at the yogurt plant is gratified to see the attention," he said. "Even if it's at my expense."

There's no word on when the state Assembly may take up the bill.

Other states with official state snacks include Texas (chips and salsa), Illinois (popcorn) and South Carolina (boiled peanuts).

Critical thinking challenge: How did the debate over yogurt demonstrate how government works?

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COMMENTS (12)
  • nigelj-Koc
    5/12/2014 - 12:12 a.m.

    No, yogurt is not worth arguing about. Either you like it or you don't. As with all foods some will like and others will disagree. It's all in preference.

  • alexw-Koc
    5/12/2014 - 12:22 a.m.

    I cant believe choosing out a snack for to represent your state is actually this important. This is jug another thing to get us Americans to waste money in their product.

  • melissaj-Ste
    5/12/2014 - 01:25 p.m.

    There's nothing more I hate in America than the government. It's filled with men and women who really just want to line their pockets than care for the millions of citizens here. This really proves my point that they would go to such lengths over yogurt. It makes no sense to me and neither do politics.

  • EmilyKne
    5/12/2014 - 01:56 p.m.

    I do not think yogurt is something to argue about. If you want yogurt as a snack eat it, if not, don't eat it. It is something as simple as that.

  • MackenzieSh
    5/13/2014 - 01:44 p.m.

    Why argue over something as stupid as yogurt? Why don't you just walk or drive yah butt to the store and buy some? It's that simple.

  • Q-Satow.1
    5/13/2014 - 07:57 p.m.

    A simple idea on making a state snack in New York, has led to hour long debates deciding weather yogurt should be the snack or not. The whole thing was about teaching 4th grade students a little about politics for there future, but it got blown out of proportion as senators could not agree on what was a meal and what was a snack. Even the 4th graders that the whole thing was about are still wondering why they are "still deciding over a snack."
    I think that this is quite frankly hilarious. If your goal is to do something simple to try to teach a 4th grade class politics, then keep it simple. Although to me, your state snack isn't a small decision.

  • JN5softball32
    5/14/2014 - 12:58 p.m.

    I don't think people should be arguing over yogurt. It is so stupid to argue over a food. As a person that doesn't like yogurt, I find it completely childish.

  • RedSox34
    5/15/2014 - 06:43 p.m.

    This is completely foolish. Our tax dollars are being spent on these men's salaries to discuss important topics. They shouldn't be worried about the state snack. If they need to talk about it there shouldn't even need to be a lengthy discussion. This shows where our government's priorities are these days.

  • 2annabellac
    5/19/2014 - 12:40 p.m.

    i don't think that the New York Senate should be debating over what the states snack is, they're just wasting tax dollars and I'm sure they have more important things to decide on than the state snack. Even the fourth graders who brought this up are still surprised that the senate is still debating over the state snack. I mean we have some of our highest ranking and most important people debating over the state snack. It's just foolish that it even made it to the state senate it's not like the state snack is and important decision and our lives are depending on the decision of the state snack. I understand that the fourth graders were wondering but there is a fine line between answering a question and foolishness.

  • bronemies
    9/09/2014 - 08:53 a.m.

    IS yogurt* reaaly counts as an argument. THe fourth grade students started this(which is saying something) becuse the kids were arguing about the state's official snack and they brought this to the senate who still arguing about it. This is amazing and very wierd hoiw the government is arguing over something like a state's official snack who cares there are more important things other than snacks. What is really interesting is that they actually are arguing about a snack and what is a snack thta is just a simple argument and they might still be arguing.

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