The Senate debates: Should yogurt be the official state snack?


First, there was the Great New York State Vegetable Debate of 2011. And who could forget the ongoing tussle over the Herkimer Diamond and whether it should be named the official state mineral?

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.50.09 AMBut those policy debates pale in comparison to the latest legislative battle: Should yogurt be the official state snack?

The back story is familiar. An elementary school class — in this case, a fourth-grade class from Byron-Bergen Elementary School in Genesee County — learns the basics of government, and comes up with a proposal for an official state symbol as a way to try and see government in action.

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, Erie County, took up the class’ effort, and the state Senate yesterday debated a bill that would make yogurt New York’s official snack. The idea, Ranzenhofer said, came while the fourth graders were learning about government and while Russia was blocking a shipment of Chobani yogurt during the Winter Olympics.

“Through the course of their studies and what was happening in current events, they decided that this would be a great example of a state snack,” Ranzenhofer said. “It makes sense from a health standpoint in that yogurt contains many vital ingredients that are healthy. Specifically, yogurt tastes great, it’s a good source of protein, calcium, Vitamin B, calcium and magnesium, all nutrients that are part of a good and healthy diet.”

Yogurt, of course, is also a burgeoning industry in New York, and has been promoted heavily by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

But the debate surrounding the bill was anything but smooth sailing. Democratic senators came armed with questions — lots of them. Why yogurt? Why not pretzels, or the potato chip? Is ALL yogurt healthy? Why are we rushing into this?

And of course, what IS a snack, anyway?

“I think it’s self-explanatory,” Ranzenhofer said on the Senate floor when asked by Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, for his definition of a snack. “I mean, you have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then you have snacks. That’s the way I would define it, as a snack. And Senator Rivera, knowing how much time that you and I have spent in the lunch room, I think that we both know.”

Rivera wanted to know more.

“So a snack could be anything that is — to understand the definition, a snack is anything that is eaten in between the main meals of the day of breakfast or lunch or director?” Rivera asked. “Is that correct?”

“When you were giving your example, a snack is something that you eat at other meals, but the snack is the actual product,” Ranzenhofer replied.

After about 50 minutes of debate, the Senate ultimately passed the bill in a 52-8 vote. It now heads to the Assembly, where it is currently pending in committee.


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  1. Official state snack. You just can’t make this stuff up! Seeing how important this matter was I see no reason why Gov. Cuomo didn’t just push it through with a letter of necessity. Looks like about the same amount of research went into this as the popular SAFE Act. Time for a break, got to get me a nice refreshing yogurt and a bag of chips.

  2. Inside Dope on

    This had nothing to do w yogurt. The Dems asked to get some of their bills done and the GOP majority is refusing to pass even 1 local bill. So the Dems began a slow down — asking extensive questions to run up the time. Republos were heading to a big Senate dinner so this was an irritation. So they chose to do only 2 symbolic bills – one for the Korean community on the naming of a sea…and the yogurt bill. The Dems, treated like dirt all year, want some respect, The Republicans treat the Dems like the minority they are so they don’t get uppity.

    Think things are better in Albany w Cuomo and Klein? Think again.

    Yogurt, indeed.

  3. Who was the idiot senator that made a fool of himself by asking why the snack? Ranzenhofer shot back quickly; we have breakfast, lunch, dinner and then there’s snack. Sent me to bed laughing.

    And with ideas like the Dream Act, State take over of Healthcare and Late Term Abortion, not so sure any Democrat deserves to be treated better than ……..And I’m not sure they even realize or care that we have the highest taxes and are the least desirable state to retire in.

    We really need to make sure the Republicans retain control of the Senate, the other side would tax and spend us to death while vilifying any businessman/woman for being successful and creating jobs.

    Since when did the American dream turn into looking for handouts?