the absurd observers

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The American dream, sizzling in the deep fry


The washington Post published an article, available at MSNBC, which explains that although fast food places are offering healthy options, no one seems to be buying them.
A Burger King restaurant will sell just four or five of the chain's better-for-you Veggie Burgers a day, but at least 300 to 500 of any other sandwich or burger on the menu, according to Post. The chain's highly promoted low-fat grilled chicken sandwiches, added to the menu last summer, disappeared in less than a year.

The point of the article is that people prefer eating somewhere that has the option of eating healthy, rather than actually eating healthy food. The article quotes "Experts in eating behavior", who postulate that people don't like to sacrifice taste, healthy items are more expensive, and healthy food does not provide immediate gratification. These all seem like sound ideas, but they certainly do not exhaust the possible factors.

  1. If you want a salad or some fruit, Burger King is not going to be your first stop. No vegetarian or vegephile is going to patronize an establishment that suggests a monarch, figurehead or not, who lords over meat. (It is possible that the Burger King is actually meat itself, which lords over other meat, but either way, I don't think vegetarians are going to support any sort of power construct that controls meat.)(This all depends on who or what the Burger Kind is. Man? Burger? Salad?) But what about other restaurants that avoid such politically charged names?
  2. All fast food frightens us, but we have accepted the ambiguity of burgers. I know that what I order may be 10% beef and 90% mystery goo, but I have come to accept that fact over the many years I have eaten fast food. Salads, fruit, and low fat chicken are new kids on the block, and none of us is ready to eat after imagining a scenario where the salad greens are gathered from the cracks in the sidewalk and the scum skimmer from the local pool. We want to think of fruits as clean, ripe, and fresh; not sitting in a plastic crate next to the deep fry, with industrial strength fat dripping all over our pre-sliced melon.
  3. Burgers, fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs are a testament to the American dream. What was once dirty and gross and borderline toxic, is now tasty and addictive and borderline toxic. What was once liquid mystery meat is now a gelatinized patty. A simple Onion puts on a fancy outfit and he gets our respect - we call him by his full name. The "Rags to Riches" story of the little pieces of throw away meat that become hot dogs is enough to bring a tear to the eye of any warm blooded soul.


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