“Where’s the beef?” a Wendy’s commercial famously asked for the first time in 1984. And today, my beef is with their shameless promotion of deadly foods in the guise of whimsy and wisdom. Let me just say first that I fall well outside their marketing demographic. If they hoped to draw me into the Wendy’s fold with their creepy ads or smarmy motto, they failed.
I entered an interstate Wendy’s last week only because it was the best of a bad lot of choices at any of the I-40 exits we would pass. To place our order required that we zig and zag our way along the roped-off biggie-sized cattle chute along with America’s corpulent hungry . By the time we reached the register, the message the Wendy’s ad psychologists so wanted their signage to purvey to me had indeed saturated my brain like a large order of fries on a paper napkin. It left me disgusted, and no longer hungry.
I left angry. And unlike the namesake for the Baconator, I will not be back.
The sandwich is more than a sandwich, as the ad guys give voice to this 830 calories and 51 fat grams of ill health. It is a sentient thing, and confronting it is a test of courage, a challenge, an adventure, it taunts and woos us.
“The Baconator: Careful, it Can Smell Fear”; “Order it before it orders you”; “You said you liked bacon. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”; “Celebrity shouldn’t be worshiped, unless that celebrity is bacon.”
I wanted to stand up on the counter and have an adult tantrum. This is like a Viagra ad for eaters. And that was just looking at the (not much) larger than life picture of this thing, before I read the nutritional information–no great surprise there. This beast burger really should elicit fear, dread and avoidance. They tried to warn us. Yeah, right.
The final straw was their motto I saw over the portal as we rushed away: “Do what tastes right.”
Now where have I heard that sentiment before? Oh yes, it’s a seventies moral-anarchy free-love jingle: if it feels good, do it. No inhibitions, no guilt, just do it. And Wendy’s motto does for food about the same thing as the latter does for human relationships. What’s love got to do with it, got to do with it, Tina Turner sang.
What’s health got to do with it? Kiddies, make your choices by what turns on your hypothalamic pleasure centers. Adults, do whatever turns off your neuropeptide-Y stress-induced hormones. Go ahead. Dare ya. Put a few more pounds around that growing apple in your middle that will make you less depressed for the moment, but will eventually kill you.
I’m sorry. I am having an Andy Rooney moment. Ann and I partake of the larger American culture so infrequently (no television, Floyd Press only, and not many frequent flier miles) that these infrequent confrontations with “civilization” are a shock and a disappointment.
Can’t we do better as a society? Don’t we owe it to each other to take better care of our thinking, our diets and our income than to toss it at whatever tastes right? Wendy’s, you should be ashamed.
And as long as allow our children and ourselves to be sucked in by this kind of unexamined message, maybe we deserve to be baconated.