Is yogurt worth arguing over?
Is yogurt worth arguing over?
Is yogurt worth arguing over?
Lexile: 980L

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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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Assigned 19 times

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

    It shows how the government reacts to debates, if they help with the issue, or if they simply leave it alone. Most of the time they do help with debates like this to cease the drama.

  • katlynnc-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:45 a.m.

    It tells that the government gets really into things that don't really matter. It always explains how they debate over things, like how the government actually works over situations like these. Sometimes they help with debates but if they're not important they leave it alone to let the people sort it out.

  • annas1-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:45 a.m.

    Because the government is trying to say that yogurt should be a lot more healthier than just having unhealthy foods to dip in yogurt. The legislative branch is configuring the law making choices.

  • mariab-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:46 a.m.

    The government acted....well ridiculous because of the yogurt situation why discuss about the states snack when they could be doing another businesses, like the economy at least...

  • davidm1-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:53 a.m.

    Because it shows that the different types of governments from different states like different types of yogurt because everyone doesn't like the same thing .

  • casiec-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:55 a.m.

    Because half of what the government argues over, isn't worth arguing for.
    This debate is not worth arguing for. It's yogurt ? It's not a debate , it's a snack.

  • naylab-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 10:00 a.m.

    The government was debating rather the yogurt should be the states official snack. But governed letterman wrote why not the states snack should be potato chips or another snack besides yogurt. Most New Yorkers

  • jcoloniglesias
    5/14/2014 - 10:34 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 then i'd be buying them too

  • kaiyaw
    5/14/2014 - 12:29 p.m.

    over yogurt though? woow that's crazy but like if you like yogurt then go ahead and argue over it but its pointless but okaaaay!

  • toris1-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 03:31 p.m.

    This article showed that the government usually takes action in a situation that seems to have people upset, considering how small something is like yogurt.

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