Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Feeding Frenzy

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a Hardee's commercial for a new "Most American Thickburger." This giant slab of fast food is a 1/3 lb. hamburger patty topped with 2 hotdogs and a generous fistful of kettle chips. The commercial showed the whole monstrosity falling from the sky like some great bounty of cardiac arrest-inducing harvest. Move over Whoppers and Big Macs, there's a new artery clogger in town. Even I, a lover of junk food who can Chex Mix it up with the best of them, was left thinking: what the what? I felt like my cholesterol went up just from looking at that beef behemoth. As my grandmother would have said, "Lord have mercy, now I have seen it all."

But I was wrong, because it was just a few days later (when my gag reflex had all but calmed down) when a friend asked if I had seen Pizza Hut's newest creation: the pizza with the mini hot dog crust. The need for this product is clearly for those who don't consume enough calories from regular pizza, and ergo have to supplement their intake and their sodium consumption with something wholesome and nutritious like mini hotdogs. (And please rest assured, the photo of that mutant pizza came from Google images, not from my kitchen. I have some standards, although they be low at times).
If that one didn't exactly whet your appetite, you should think about heading to Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Delaware, the home of of the "donut dog." Created by the folks at Krispy Kreme, this concoction takes the ballpark staple hotdog and tops it with bacon and raspberry jam, snuggled in a sugar-glazed doughnut bun. If you like food that has a real potential to kill you, this could be your weapon of choice.

I'm sure I'm showing my age with this, but I remember back in the good ol' days when Dairy Queen's chicken strip basket (you know, the one with the cream gravy, fries, and Texas toast) won the title of most fattening fast food meal. Now, with a mere 1,340 calories, it should probably appear on the light and fit menu.  I remember the days when we ate Oreo cookies just because they were chocolate and vanilla cream and a little bit bad for us, but just so dang delicious. Now, the fine folks at Oreo have to keep us happy and hungry with flavors like watermelon, red velvet, birthday cake, and s'mores (which, in my humble marketing opinion should have been called s'mOreos--a missed opportunity on the part of Nabisco if you ask me). All of a sudden, Little Caesar's is wrapping pizzas in bacon, and Applebee's contribution to the obesity epidemic is to offer unlimited free french fry refills--because Americans need access to all the fried foods we can possibly eat, right?

Aside from the obvious fact that the world has gone crazy, I think this full-on feeding frenzy has to be a rebellion against the barrage of healthy eating tips and trends that are constantly being pushed on us these days. I mean really, when is kale finally going to go away? People across America are saying, I see your organic, gluten-free lifestyle, and I raise you these chili smothered fries with extra Cheez Whiz. Yoga pant-clad people everywhere are running away from tofu and toward totchos (which, if you were not yet aware, are just like traditional nachos, with one very important twist: instead of tortilla chips, they are smothered tater tots).

Even the timeless Bloody Mary has been affected by this gusto for gluttony. Since the cocktail was invented in the 1930s, it has typically been garnished with a simple celery stalk, occasionally to be spruced up with a couple of olives or some pickled okra. Over the last few years, the Bloody Mary bar has become increasingly popular; it's basically a salad bar for booze that allows imbibers to hot sauce and garnish to their heart's content. Sunday, an episode of Food Network's show The Kitchen showed Bloody Marys garnished with an entire beef slider...a drink and a snack, as they called it. And with very little effort, I found this monstrosity on Pinterest:

Have. Mercy.

By my count, that's a pizza, four pieces of fried chicken, a double cheeseburger, onion rings, a sub sandwich, olives, pickles, fries, garlic bread, a jalapeno...and another smaller Bloody Mary. I think I'm having chest pains just from typing all that out. What's next? Years ago, Her Majesty Queen of Butter Paula Deen made my blood sugar quiver with her bread pudding recipe, made from doughnuts and sweetened condensed milk. By these trendy new junk food standards, that's practically health food.

Why don't we get rid of all those plain hamburger buns and replace them with two miniature pizzas instead? How much longer before we get rid of tomato sauce on pizzas--all those icky vegetables--and start using gravy or bacon grease? Is there a think tank somewhere working on increased, better uses for corn dogs? Why, despite all our advances in science and technology, does ranch dressing still seem to remain so underutilized? And excuse me, but why is there fruit in my banana split? Wouldn't that concoction taste better if we ditched the actual bananas and put hotdogs or sausages in there instead? These ideas are, of course, just a springboard toward more sinful snacking. I'm sure if America keeps going at its current rate and in the same decadent direction, we can find all kinds of delicious ways to shorten our life spans and rid the food pyramid of those pesky fruits and vegetables once and for all.

Now, pass the totchos. All this talk about gluttony has made me hungry.

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