The N.Y. yogurt debate is sure to go down in the annals of unintentional comedy gold after "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart and "Late Show" host David Letterman both highlighted the viral video.
Last week, N.Y. State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, proposed Bill S.6695, which would name yogurt the official state snack of New York, The Associated Press reported
"Yogurt is not only a delicious, healthy treat; it is also an economic driver for many communities in New York, with yogurt manufacturers located all across the state — from Western New York to Long Island. That is why yogurt is such a suitable choice to be New York’s State snack," Ranzenhofer said in support of the bill.
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According to a release from his office, New York is the number one processor of yogurt in the United States
, producing over 13 billion pounds in 2012 alone.
Ranzenhofer and the bill were challenged by Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, who expressed tongue-in-cheek concern for the legislation's intolerance of the lactose intolerant, and Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, who cheekily asked, "What exactly are we defining as a snack?"
To Krueger, Ranzenhofer said confidently that soy yogurt was available to the lactose intolerant.
To Rivera's comment, Ranzenhofer responded without hesitation, saying, "I think it's self-explanatory. I mean, you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then you have snacks."
Stewart was astonished by the nearly hour-long debate, declaring it "maybe the best 40 minutes" of legislative back-and-forth he's ever seen. He was particularly impressed by Ranzenhofer's quick responses, and called him "the Ken Jennings of yogurt" in reference to the "Jeopardy" champion.
Letterman was offended by the debate, and in response jokingly declared a new segment on his show, called "New York State: Your Tax Dollars at Work."
In fairness, Ranzenhofer said the legislation did not originate with him, but was supposed to be an educational bill.
"The idea for this legislation started in a Genesee County classroom, not at the State Capitol. A lot of credit goes to Craig Schroth and his fourth-grade class at Byron-Bergen Central School District for all of their hard work, research and study that went into proposing this bill," Ranzenhofer said. "Today’s vote to designate yogurt as the state snack is an example of democracy in action."
The bill eventually passed 52 to 8.
According to Ranzenhofer's office, New York State has many other official state symbols, including a beverage, milk; a muffin, apple muffin; a fruit, apple; a tree, sugar maple; a flower, rose; a shellfish, bay scallop; a fish, brook trout; a bird, bluebird; an animal, beaver; a gem, wine-red garnet; and an insect, ladybug.
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