When I see stories like the NYC Board of Health Calorie posting proposal nonsense (or the trans-fats nonsense, etc.) I am reminded of when I was a young usher and concession stand worker at a movie theater in Knoxville, Tennessee.
We had a decent variety of fountain drinks to go with the popcorn and other goodies at the concession stand. However, none were diet drinks. Water from the fountains was free, but water in a cup was $.10.
So, these two "older" women came strolling in to see some movie, that appeared to only have a following composed of UT graduate students and most of them were pairs of women, and ordered some goodies and diet something-or-other.
Me: "Sorry, we only have what is on the fountains [list choices]."
Lady: "WHAT? I WANT DIET [brand x]!"
Me: "Sorry Ma'am, we don't have that. Would you like some water? But I have to charge you for the cup if you want one."
Lady: "I am writing to my Congressman! There is no reason why you can't have diet drinks here. Some people know the dangers of sugar."
Me: "Would you like a cup?"
Lady: "NO!" [storms off with candy bar after paying]
In the past I thought they mentioned being in some wacky graduate program at the university, but I might be imagining that. They sure sounded like they were graduate students.
That was one of my earliest introductions to popular National Socialism. The notion is that the government must make businesses and other property owners do things to serve the public. I have seen this plenty of other times, from people who call themselves 'Conservatives' to the people who call themselves 'Progressives'.
The notion of drawing to the attention of the shop owner something that they might wish to add to their line and draw some more business, or just make the experience of their visit a little better, never enters their mind. A novel approach might be to call the local supplier and mention that the theater does not carry what they were looking for and have the sales person bring it up for them. Instead they leap to the notion that the SWAT team needs to be deployed to get diet drinks into a theater.
I can see how some conditioning may have contributed to this. In those days telephone service was highly regulated. The Bell System was certainly not as innovative as their descendents are today, partly because the government was always telling them what service they would provide. Whenever they had any sort of innovation the anti-Bell crackpots were all over the public service portion of radio time (back when radio stations had to perform that 'public service' as part of their licensing agreement with the government) complaining about the Mickey Mouse telephones that Bell was "wasting our money on".
If you wanted a service or item from the phone company you almost had to write your Congressman.
This was also the days before government mandated handicap spots, but I saw some of those around long before there was a government mandate and permit system. That was something else that seemed to be catching on quite well without the government goose-stepping in to the rescue.
I am sure that is not the whole explanation, but it is probably related to this notion that the government must force the merchant to provide certain products, or in today's version, prohibit certain products.
There has been a slight twist in the way things seem to be going. For some reason, prohibition "never works" unless it is against tobacco, trans-fats, ivory, the list goes on. The people who advocate those prohibitions are many of the exact same people who say drug prohibition will never work. It is a strange notion that prohibition only works on the stuff you don't like, but it never works on the stuff you want. I know one thing for certain. Prohibition almost always creates a black market the same way rationing and artificial price inflation do.
No, this is not a complete analysis, but the only thing I have ever been able to glean from the folks who want to force Tab onto the soda fountain or Wesson into the deep fryer is that they are selfish little spoiled brats who, when faced with a choice they don't like, go running to an 'authority' to make others do what they want.