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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

2007 Daylight Savings Changes Are A Conspiracy

Betcha didn't know that Big Chocolate and Big Disposable Battery were behind the 2005 Energy Policy Act. Read about how these corporate juggernauts screwed the little man:
Mr. Downing contends that the candy lobby has a long history with Halloween and “saving” daylight. By 1986, a year of great Congressional debate on the matter, candy sales had suffered a sharp falloff as trick-or-treating was hammered by:

* Hysteria around the myth of candy poisoning
* Increased concerns about child abduction brought on by photos of missing kids on milk cartons.

“The candy makers were so desperate for this that besides lobbying for years, they went and put pumpkins filled with candy on the seat of every senator in America,” Mr. Downing said. (Senate floor security was not quite so tight in the 1980s).

Readers in the comments below were a bit skeptical about Mr. Downing’s claims. And later in the day we spoke with a representative of the candy industry, who had a very different account.

The spokesman, Lawrence T. Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association, based in Vienna, Va., said the association was, from 1982 to 1984, part of a coalition to extend Daylight Saving Time, mostly out of concern about children’s safety. But the association contributed only $200 to that effort, he said, and since then has not been active on the issue.

“For us to spend time on Capitol Hill and have meetings to get Daylight Saving Time changed — we’re not even sure it would be good for our industry,” he said in a phone interview today. “I’ve been here 15 years and we’ve never brought it up to discuss in 15 years. It’s never been a major issue for us, and it’s certainly not now.”

The association has about 600 members; most of them are small businesses, but the association also represents major candy manufacturers. Mr. Graham, who is a former Congressional staff member, said he had no idea where Mr. Downing’s story about pumpkins placed on legislators’ seats came from.

“We have never taken one pumpkin to Capitol Hill, and candy sales have never significantly decreased at Halloween, except after 9/11,” he wrote in an e-mail message.

In any event, the effort to extend daylight saving time, which also included support from retail and sports industries, was unsuccessful until 2005, when it piggybacked on the Energy Policy Act and managed to get daylight saving time extended by a month.

But the additional month was divided up in an odd way: three extra weeks in the spring and one in the fall, just enough to cover Halloween. “That one week is a simple concession to the long-suffering candy makers and chocolate manufacturers,” Mr. Downing said.

City Room mentioned in passing how New York City’s Fire Department was running a “change your clock, change your battery” campaign that chides people to change the battery in their smoke alarms twice a year, when the time changes. (This year, the time change happens at 2 a.m. Sunday, which means an extra hour of sleep, or an extra hour of weekend fun, as the case may be.)

Mr. Downing responded, “The ‘change your battery in your smoke detector’ was an ad campaign designed by a battery company.” (Indeed, Energizer and the fire chiefs came up with the campaign 20 years ago.)

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