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 (64)
  • brow-usagi21
    5/12/2014 - 03:44 p.m.

    I wouldn't argue over yogurt but you know people all have their own problems. im not a very big fan yogurt so I wouldn't argue about it.

  • RA3josethemexican
    5/13/2014 - 08:46 a.m.

    I think it's stupid that they are arguing over yogurt. It's just yogurt , for me I wouldn't even argue over yogurt because Ithink it's nasty.

  • kiana131
    5/13/2014 - 10:58 a.m.

    It's reall ynot smart to argue over yogurt. I mean yogurt is the U.S official snack. Yogurt is kinda healthy for you too, they should be glad we have a snack that is healthy for us.

    .

  • GVA1pizza
    5/13/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    I think that you shuold not argue over yogurt. You should just use a different method. If you do this then it is a waste of time

  • SD1dancer
    5/13/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    It seem quite pointless to argue over yogurt. It isn't very expensive so you can easily buy more. some arguments are so pointless, it crazy they even start in the first place.

  • KatherineC19
    5/13/2014 - 02:50 p.m.

    Definitely not! Yogurt is just a simple snack that people eat for energy, a filling snack or even something more! I doubt any yogurt companies made their brand of yogurt for you to fight over!

  • AlenA13
    5/13/2014 - 02:53 p.m.

    Why would you be so crazy over a yogurt unless your going on a diet or thats the only kind of food you eat unless it has money inside the boxes then i'd be buying them too but otherwise why would you be so crazy about the yogurt!

  • lamariusb-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:37 a.m.

    Why would you be so crazy over a yogurt unless your going on a diet or thats the only kind of food you eat unless it has money inside the boxes.

  • lamariusb-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:37 a.m.

    Why would you be so crazy over a yogurt unless your going on a diet or thats the only kind of food you eat unless it has money inside the boxes.

  • tylerk1-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:42 a.m.

    Has 3 branches and it all has a different role. People also have a say and a vote over many things.people can have say in voting and we have the right of freedom of speech.

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