Is Unhealthy the New Healthy?

22 01 2008


By Jill Ettinger

In the current issue of Conde Nast’s Portfolio, Joe Keohane  takes a look at the gluttony pushers at CKE restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardees. The two fast food chains are ruthlessly appealing to their male-dominated audience with indulgent sandwiches, like the “Monster Thickburger.” At a time when McDonald’s is at least pretending to slim down, by adding salads and seemingly healthier items to their menus, CKE is hurling itself in the opposite direction, hailing meat as a condiment, topping burgers with more burgers, bacon, steak, eggs and even pastrami. Some sandwiches contain more than half of a day’s recommended caloric intake and over 100 grams of fat. And customers are gobbling them up, even though they can barely fit them in their mouths. Advertisements urge men to “be men” by eating fat-laden heart attack-inducing burgers because apparently women love greasy, fast food. At least according to some of the risqué ads CKE is using to bring fat into fashion. One includes Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and a burger, with the tagline, “Because guys don’t like the same thing night after night.” That is, of course, except for heaps of char-grilled meat.

This Wall Street Journal article appeared last week on the “death” of the Hydrox cookie. What? While the U.S. economy is teetering on a recession, the reputable WSJ would rather ask Americans to ponder more pressing issues like the Oreo’s lesser-known cousin’s chocolatey biscuit flavor nuances and mysterious creamy center’s texture in another case of marketing propaganda a la advertorial commentary. But it turns out people really do care. About a cookie. There’s a dedicated fansite for Hydrox lovers where they gather, reflecting on fond memories of its milk dunkability, or announce Hydrox “sightings” and sleuthing through current cookie recipes hoping to find their crunchy favorite reincarnated as a Paul Newman’s or a Famous Amos. Lamenting over the loss of a cookie? Are these people serious?

There’s also cupcake fever that’s afflicting hipsters nationwide. Donuts and candy bars? Those are for square, old, cubicle working people, and cops. If you’re young and cool, stay young and cool by getting fat and lazy. This is the bane of our cursed X generation, and it even comes with a little pleated paper wrapper bottom so you don’t lose any precious crumbs. Bakeries specializing ONLY in cupcakes are all the rage, popping up around the country. Sheet cake? Bundt cake? Bah! There are even vegan and gluten-free iced varieties feigning healthy – long gone are the days of the oat bran or blueberry muffin. The half-healthy scone is lucky to find work as a door stop or paper weight. And croissants? Why folks would sooner eat a bagel. The people have spoken, they want frosting. And sprinkles.

It seems that even the FTC is trying to stop the spread of healthy food, by launching yet another complaint against Whole Foods’ recent buy-out of competing chain, Wild Oats. The FTC is seeking an injunction to prevent the big box organic supermarket from closing any more of the less successful Wild Oats locations or converting them into the more profitable Whole Foods layouts, citing that Whole Foods would have a monopoly on the measly organic food market.

Is anyone trying to stop the Wendy’s “Baconator” commercials from airing?

Maybe it is time for Americans to admit they love being fat. Fad diets have been off by one letter. Sure, there will always be a fringe group of “health nuts” that enjoy things like mobility, regular heart rates, healthy sugar metabolism and slews of other “normal” body functions. But it’s 2008. We put a man on the moon almost 40 years ago. Now, let’s see if we can put that big ball of cheese IN a man.




2 responses

23 01 2008

The irony, that I read the Conde Nast article that inspired you when I was at the gym… I too, was taken aback, and hoped that it was just a passing fad- not truly a reflection of a societal trend. Did you note that the CEO was an avid runner/lifter, and that the corporate headquarters have a fitness center?

23 01 2008

thanks sasha, ya they have a gym and no cafeteria. strange times….xo

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