The Sisson Spoof
Here’s what I want to know: why is it that alcohol and cigarettes must carry surgeon general’s health warnings, but obscenely deleterious foods don’t have to?
We’ve looked at the Cheesecake Factory’s one-pound slices of cake and Chili’s 2,700+ calorie onion. And it’s not just restaurants. Consider Pop Tarts and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. What if, instead of being allowed to (respectively) slap “good source of calcium” and “No hormones” on these products, these sugar slingers had to tell the truth:
Warning: This product contains high levels of sugar, artificial ingredients and refined fat which are known contributors to obesity, diabetes and, oh yeah, death.
Ben & Jerry’s
Warning: The pint you are about to ingest contains two days’ worth of fat and your entire day’s caloric requirements, because, let’s face it, no one eats just one-fourth of this little carton. We might love our cows, but we don’t give a flying fig if you get diabetes, which you probably will if you eat enough of these bad boys.
Of course, I’m sure the Surgeon G. can come up with the appropriately-uninspiring medical terminology.
But seriously, I want to know: why do known contributors to obesity, diabetes and heart disease get to make health claims on their packaging? A bottle of wine would never have “Loaded with antioxidants!” plastered on its label (let’s hope). Cigarettes packs aren’t about to feature “Enhances mood and relieves tension” seals. These products do have benefits (why else do people enjoy them and often get addicted). But they also carry major, life-threatening risks.
How is a pint of ice cream different? How is a rectangular donut different? Just because they’re “food” doesn’t make it any less disingenuous to trumpet meaningless health claims. Humans can become addicted to food just as easily as beer and smokes. If you think the cumulative effect of years of eating junk is any different from the effects of excess alcohol or cigarettes, think again. Far more people die from food addiction than drinking and smoking.
But don’t worry – Pop Tarts provide 9 essential vitamins and minerals.
What is it with every restaurant cramming fifteen different flavors into their recipes these days? First we had egg rolls. Then we had avocado egg rolls. Now it’s Southwest with-a-hint-of-tang spinach egg rolls – and they come with avocado-ranch dipping sauce (what a relief).
Snacks are no better (not as if they ever were). Joel Stein has a pretty humorous piece in the February 2 issue of Time that addresses the current trends of making “lowbrow highbrow”. I’m with you, Joel. Making a potato chip organic isn’t doing anyone any favors. We don’t need multi-grain nachos. We need to lay off the nachos.
But I digress. My personal peeve is the overwhelming onslaught of flavor – excuse me, “zest” – in every menu item these days. Sweet isn’t enough. Salty doesn’t cut it. It’s got to be salty and sweet and sour and possibly Asian-spice-infused. Chicken? Good luck with that one. Buffalo wings are neither buffalo nor wings, but you can get them in a tangy sesame-crusted sour sauce.
I’m not sure what’s behind food marketers’ move to infuse every molecule of product with simultaneously sweet, sour, spicy, cool, tangy, creamy flavor. The experts say Americans are becoming aware of global “flavors” like never before, and we want exotic tastes: spices, curries, garlic, heat. I’m right there with you – bring the taste. But whipping up an assertive stir fry is a bit different from ripping open a bag of wasabi-ranch fried carrot-esque crunch sticks. I don’t want a buffalo-bleu-cheese-pepper chip. I don’t want a chip, period.
More is not more. When the local joint stuffs five hundred flavors into the latest tortilla de obesity menu item, your tongue may be amazed, but your stomach will be left just trying to cope. Pick a side, already! All this bedazzling of snacks and reincarnated burrito wraps equals a lot more sodium, sugar (wait, corn syrup) and artificial flavoring.
Besides, guys, until you can deliver a deep-fried daquiri ice curry ball, and make it taste good, I’m just not impressed.
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Cereality: doing our part to make diabetes a national pastime.
Folks are raving about the “genius” of Cereality (thanks, Donny Deutsch), a chain of bars for grownups that lets them access their “inner child” again. Hey, when cocktails get old, I guess people need new ways to flood their body with lethal amounts of sugar.
The cereality of life may be fun – temporarily – but sooner or later, we have to get back to being grownups. I think a certain amount of play is healthy for adults, especially in our modern, fast-paced society. But I’m pretty disgusted by the simultaneous jading of youngsters and infantilization of adults going on everywhere you look. We are a nation of instant gratification addicts. It’s not just in health – baby boomers haven’t saved for retirement, fashion’s latest trends feature women looking like pigeon-toed little girls, and the general trend of commercials for both fast food and household items is to make grown men look like five-year-olds. Men hiding from mouthwash because it doesn’t taste good? Come on! I don’t want a mother, I want a wife, and I don’t want a bowl of Lucky Charms, either. I’ve got a family to care for and suspending reality for cereality isn’t the way to do it. I’ll pass on the obesity and diabetes, thanks. How about you?
In reality, relying on refined sugar – particularly at the beginning of your day – is an excellent way to tax your body’s insulin response and pave the way for diabetes so you can harm yourself and everyone you love. But in cereality, it’s all good fun!
Diabetes goes portable!
Introducing Crispy Cones, the new portable obesity device hitting food courts everywhere.
I have to admit I’m baffled by the Crispy Cone website. Usually new food products don’t try to make a claim of health if they are obviously junk (processed meat, cheese and empty carbs? Come on!!!). I can cut “borderline” healthy foods like veggie wraps and Cesar salads a break. At least Tacone wraps are better than burgers. But this product is just ridiculous. Crispy cones are basically pizza and tacos in new packaging. And what packaging – processed, hydrogenated bleached flour!
The makers rave about the convenience, and boy do they brag about the no-drip capability of their patented (ooooh) cone. They even point out that hand-held food is – yes – environmentally-friendly. Okay…
When did food stop being a meal and start being something we do while we’re doing other stuff? I’m constantly amazed at how people eat while on the phone, driving, even in meetings. A generation ago, it was considered a pretty horrifying display of bad manners to eat this way, but I guess it’s what we do now. It sure hasn’t made us healthier or slimmer.
The fact that Crispy Cones actually insist on the health of their product is what gets me most. The laugh you will get from the “Go Healthy” tab of the website is worth the click. If this is healthy, God help us!
Jabba the Hut returns? Another Jurassic Park sequel? Or simply a science experiment gone very wrong?
None of the above. This festering ball of lard is just the Cheesecake Factory’s macaroni and cheese appetizer. I didn’t think you could find anything worse, nutritionally speaking, than a donut, which is literally deep-fried sugar and fat. I was wrong.
As if bleached flour smothered in liquid processed cheese “food” wasn’t destructive enough, now it’s breaded and fried. Oh – and served atop a creamy sauce. Score another one for the obesity epidemic.
The Cheesecake Factory doesn’t reveal calorie or nutrition information. According to them, they just change their menu items so darned often, they couldn’t possibly keep up with publishing information! Sure.
I’m continually stunned at the way businesses like Cheesequake blatantly insult and mock their customers with such disingenuous excuses – as if hiring an intern, giving the kid a calculator and asking said intern to make a website update is such a challenging innovation to adopt. (Reminds me of Paging Dr. Luddite.)
And I’m equally saddened by people’s willingness to be abused – if that’s not addictive dependency, what is?
Soon enough, food producers are going to have to accept the fact that lying to consumers is not a good long-term business strategy – because the world is changing, and consumers have two very important things:
1) Access to information like never before, if you don’t mind taking 5 seconds to look for it, and
2) Near-unlimited choice.
Also, it’s not a good idea to slowly kill off your customers. This will affect profits at some point.
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