ALBANY The state's surprisingly contentious debate over snacks is finally over.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed a bill to designate yogurt as the official New York snack, which came five months after a lengthy, 50-minute debate in the state Senate that was lampooned by late-night comedians.
The roots of the newly signed law stretch back to Byron-Bergen Elementary School in Genesee County, where a fourth-grade class came up with the idea for the bill during a lesson last year on the governmental process.
"This designation is a fitting recognition of the importance of this state's yogurt industry, which has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years, making New York the top yogurt producer in the nation," Cuomo said in a statement. "We will continue to work with New York producers and dairy farmers to build upon this progress and further strengthen this critically important industry."
Cuomo approved the legislation on the day of the state's second Yogurt Summit, a public forum at Cornell University in Ithaca on issues facing dairy producers.
The Senate debate in May was uncharacteristically meticulous for a seemingly innocuous bill, with several Democratic senators peppering bill sponsor Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, Erie County, with a series of detailed questions on the merits of yogurt and the definition of a snack.
"I think it's self-explanatory," Ranzenhofer said on the Senate floor when asked how he would define "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."
Both Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and David Letterman of CBS' "The Late Show" poked fun at the debate on their shows, showing Ranzenhofer and Democrats sparring over the minutiae of yogurt.'