M&Ms and How the French are Following in the Fat Footsteps of Americans

When we first moved to France in 2002, I was a big snacker, as many Americans are. It was part of life and when I began searching for French snacks in Nice, it was a huge disappointment. In fact, I remember blogging about how we were able to find potato chips but only “au parfum paprika,” and other so-called different parfums, which in fact all tasted exactly like BBQ potato chips. Not knocking those, but I wanted different things to munch on, some variety in textures and flavors, artificial flavors and ingredients notwithstanding.

In the U.S., we’re used to variety, so much of it, that’s it’s hard to decide what to snack on. Having choices is good. It’s great for someone who must have a full spectrum of junk food, whether it’s good for zee health or not. Wasn’t I relieved to find Roasted Chicken Flavored Chips in France? Anyway. Another thing I’m used to, as an American, is volume. Gimme some tortilla chips, not just individual lunch bag sizes, but JUMBO, heaps of mega amounts of genetically modified corn substances and oils pressed together in the shape of triangles. Throw some in the oven with cheese and add salsa, guac, black beans, jalapenos, sour cream, onions and more cheese and voila: yummy nachos. I can eat an entire pan in one go, whereas in France, this portion would be served to at least 10 people.

On the sweet side of junk, I also needed volume. An example: I was very much a M&Ms with peanuts kind of person. Gobs and gobs and gobs of them, I would munch all day if I could.

During the early years in France, the biggest bag of M&Ms with peanuts held approximately 15.3 M&Ms with peanuts. PFFFF! I was like, “don’t make me laugh, France. I could eat 100 bags of those itty bitty things. Gimme more!” Where was the humungous bag to fill my ginormous American belly???
extra large m&ms
Recently, we saw some XL bags of M&Ms in Auchan. My sweetie noticed them and squealed XL! So, yeah, it was pretty big for French standards considering these didn’t even exist a few years ago. I was mildly impressed, but this French EEKSelle was a mere 500 grams (about 1 pound). Frenchies would probably say, “Ouah. Enorme!”(wow. enormous!) while ogling the outrageousness of its packaging. I say, “PFFF! That’s a Barbie portion.”

Last month while shopping at Costco in L.A., we saw some bags of M&Ms. Each weighed 1587.6 grams (3 pounds and 8 ounces)! Now, THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout! To be honest, even I was shocked at the magnitude of the bag. But! In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “I bet there’s one that’s EVEN bigger!” I’m so American. I’ve probably watched way too many episodes of The Simpsons. (You know what episode, I’m talking about.)
costco m&ms
We bought several. Not for me because these days I don’t eat as much junk (remember junk food is BAD for you!), but rather, for a few of our French friends who we know are ravenous M&M addicts. They were all shocked and happy with their supersized gifts, exactly what we were hoping.

But just afterward, it all made me a little worried. I hoped those M&Ms last a while and aren’t eaten right away…

While I complained about the dinkiness in size of M&Ms bags and other snacks, and the lack of variety in France, I was, at the same time, relieved that I would not have the challenge of resisting eating these as well as other junk in grand quantities. Like many people, I can’t eat just 1, or 10 or even 15. The French were known to be bafflingly skinny for many reasons, but namely because of a lack of junk foods and specifically a lack of large quantities of junk foods, or food in general – with the exception of meat at BBQs.

Sadly, times are changing in France. We found these M&Ms in the store the other day. They were size “Maxi” (whose name would obviously NOT work in the U.S.). The maxi bag is 1000 grams, just over 2 pounds. France, you surprise me sometimes. So, it’s big but there’s still a difference of about 587.6 grams, about 1.2 pounds, to catch up with their American counterpart. But 2.2 pounds is fairly large for previous French standards.
maxi m&ms in france
I know! This is what I was hoping for, but not really.

M&Ms is just one example but there are thousands of products that can also apply here to the obvious conclusion: an increase in product sizes will lead to an increase in consumption, which leads to obesity. This happened in the U.S. which is partly why one third of Americans are obese.

Obesity is rising already in France but I’m afraid it will only increase exponentially with the supersizing of portions and with the imports of industrial foods. In 2002, when we first moved to France 9.4% of the French population was obese. Just four years later, that percentage increased to 12.4%. That’s nearly 8 million obese people in 2006. I don’t know more current stats on obesity in France but I’m fairly positive that it’s more than 12.4%.

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New Rules for Scooters
Saturday January 03rd 2009, 3:00 am
Filed under: cars/bikes/etc,conspiracy theories,daily life,french laws,news,politics,tips

vespa scooters
Some time during the 90s, Europe passed legislation that alllowed driver’s license holders, experienced with at least 2 years of driving, to also legally drive scooters up to 125 cc. If the scooter was less than 80 cc, you didn’t need a license or training at all (So it was very common to see 14-year-olds driving these scooters on the road…). This is about to change because of the non-negligible percentage of traffic death due to scooters (scooters and motorcycles account for 10.1% of all traffic accidents and 18% of all traffic deaths.) I believe the number of scooter drivers increased particularly in the last few years because of the sudden inflation, rising gas costs and exorbitant price of getting a car driver’s license.

Strangely, a new law was passed during the wee hours of the night on Christmas eve 2008, and just a few days later, the law became in effect January 1, 2009. That’s probably one of the quickest passed laws in France, ever.

So, here’s the result: The Ministry of the Interior has enforced that car drivers (with Type B permit and 2 years of driving experience and driving a scooter 51 cc to 125cc) either get a motorbike license (Type A) or follow a specific, 3-hour scooter training, involving emergency breaking and balancing alone and with a passenger – which costs between €110 to €180 depending on the moto école.

The 14-year olds+ driving scooters less than 50 cc are obligated to follow a different training called Le Brevet de Sécurité Routière (BSR).

If you are caught without a permit you risk a fine of €135 and a retraction of 3 points from your driver’s license.

Will the Ministry of the Interior follow with imposing a mandatory training for bicyclists? We wonder…

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Dialogue entre 2 pilotes d’Air France

dialogue between 2 air france pilots strike

Previous dialogues: Dialogue entre Barack Obama et Nicolas Sarkozy, Dialogue entre Sarah Palin et Nicolas Sarkozy, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair, Francois Hollande and Maxime Bono, The Dalai Lama and Carla Bruni, Michael Phelps and Alain Bernard, Sarkozy and Qaddafi, Laurent Voulzy and Alain Souchon, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy, Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Vartan, Tom Hanks and Jean Reno, Daniel Balavoine and Francois Mitterrand, Florent Pagny, Zidane and Xavier Darcos

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French Women Don’t Sleep Alone

According to an advice author French women don’t sleep alone because they have a knack for attracting men. Apparently, American women don’t have this knack. Um. Ok.

From topnews:

French women have “an effortless gift for attracting men” that American ladies lack and need to learn, says author Jamie Cat Callan, in her forthcoming advice book.

In her “ French Women Don’t Sleep Alone”, which is due to hit the shelves in March, the writer tries to guide American ladies to learn from their French rivals who have a natural flair of pulling men.

“French women don”t listen to Dr. Phil”s advice,” the New York Post quoted Callan, as saying in the book.

It said: “They don”t worry about the care and feeding of their boyfriends . . . American women are trying too hard – and the results have been grim.

“On the contrary, French women”s love lives are romantic, sensual, playful, complicated, intense and positively epic.”

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The Mystery of Mushrooms in France

mushrooms france champignons de paris

“Paris Mushrooms, it’s when they’re in your mouth that they’re the happiest.”

Aside from this ad promoting Champignons de Paris (button mushrooms) in France being very, very cute, I’m wondering why the mushroom industry (if there’s a mushroom industry) needs to advertise in the first place. Is there an overproduction of mushrooms? I rarely see ads for other veggies like cucumbers or celery or artichokes or for any veggies, ever; really, this is strange to me. Is there a silent mushroom consumption grève (strike) or something? … So much so that mushroom farmers need a push from ads?

Just a couple of weeks ago, our neighbors asked us if we had any extra mushrooms they could borrow because they couldn’t find any anywhere near our neighborhood. My sweetie, being even more of a conspiracy theorist than I am (yea, I know! unbelievable but true!), suggested that the radioactive leaks lately have been compromising the mushrooms, which perhaps were then removed from the market. Apparently, mushrooms excessively absorb radiation, which is an enormous help to people around…unless they eat those mushrooms…

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