Category Archives: Terrible Things People Eat

Right, Like You Haven’t Fed Your Kid This Type Of Bacon Before


Stop looking at me like that, Paltrow

Island Packet — I casually mentioned to a friend last week that I’d made my son waffles and bacon for breakfast that morning. I also casually mentioned that I’d done it a few days before, and a few days before that, and probably a few times the previous week as well. My older son does not have an adventuresome palate, so when his dad finds something the boy will eat that doesn’t originate from exhaust-belching factory machinery with the words “VAT OF NUGGETS” on it, he sticks relentlessly with what works. So, sure, I said, waffles and bacon. Get some OJ, throw some fruit out there, breakfast of champions. Let’s get this kid to third grade.

But my news seemed to come as a solid surprise, like, wait, you make him waffles and bacon? Every day? Sure, I replied, feeling really pretty jaunty about myself and my breakfast-related fathering, given all this sudden affirmation and everything.

Well, obviously, this was a bit of a communication breakdown. It took me a few minutes to realize she was talking about actual waffles and actual bacon, while I was talking about something different — namely waffles that can be waffled in a toaster and come from Sam’s Club in a box of 35,000, and precooked bacon that can be re-cooked in a microwave and come from Sam’s Club in a box of 47,000.


AspireAssist: The stomach-emptying foodbag that’s officially preferable to exercise


Not entirely sure this will fit in the outbound tube

GateHouse — There are lots of ways to lose weight these days. You could have part of your stomach clamped off, you could binge n’ purge, you could sample any number of delicious chemical medications, shakes, cocktails, injections, pudding cups, synthetic meals or genetically modified livestock. You could also consume fewer calories than you burn off in daily activity or exercise but ha ha come on who seriously would do that it’s just madcap whackadoo crazy talk.

Far less crazy is the idea of the AspireAssist, a new product from the world’s fledgling over-the-counter weight-loss medication industry and the latest magic bullet for the admirably tenacious chunk of the country’s food aficionados who, bravely in the face of hundreds of years of medical science, expert analysis and that kind of good old-fashioned common sense that everyone’s grandpappy apparently had, believe it’s possible to drop pounds without modifying one’s portion size or occasionally going for one of those walks your grandpappy told you about.

The AspireAssist, and I have to reiterate that this part is real, takes the food you’ve decided to eat, since you’re theoretically a sentient adult who isn’t being force-fed a kids’ wagon full of blueberry pies (unless you are, in which case try to escape immediately, forced-pie-eating crimes are on the rise), and vacuums it right out of your stomach before it’s converted to fat and sadness. If it works, the machine makes it so you only absorb about a third of the calories in the food you eat, and I think we can all agree that attaching an electronic machine to your body to slurp out 2/3 of the material you consumed is immeasurably more convenient and uncreepy than not eating it in the first place.

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Chuck E. Cheese Replaces Mascot, A Nation Mourns Its Lost Innocence


This guy needs replacing? Why?

GateHouse — I was in a Chuck E. Cheese one time, once, for a birthday party for the son of a friend we no longer talk to because he held his kid’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

This was years ago, before I knew precisely what the phrase “having kids” truly meant, before I realized you could wiggle your way out of birthday parties at the last minute (if I ever tell you “the baby has an ear infection,” I am lying to your face), before I fully appreciated that “being a parent” meant “benefiting from astronomical, near-miraculous odds to be born at this age, in this time, and then burning the impossibly precious gift of life in a windowless hellscape filled with shrieking and pepperoni and aging robot mice who sing Beach Boys songs.”

In that few hours, I learned a lot of things about both Chuck E. Cheese and pain, mostly pain. But joking about that is silly, because that is the POINT of Chuck E. Cheese, that it makes you want to invent a way to beat yourself into unconsciousness with breadsticks and everyone knows it, but ugh “the kids like it” or whatever so you do it, because who needs $400 anyway?

Well, I’ve got news: Things are about to change. Get ready to forget everything you knew about Chuck E. Cheese. Well, except that part about the loudness, and the shrieking. And the wanting to brain yourself with breadsticks. And the dead-eyed robots singing iconic 1960s surf songs you know what, whatever, just remember everything but the mascot.

Chuck E. Cheese announced last week that it’s replacing its signature mouse, rebooting Chuck, re-mousening its brand, feeling that the current rodent is too outdated, because when your business plan involves group-plumpening kids by the dozens and then plugging their brains into shooting games, you want to stay current. According to the AP, Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, which goes by the decidedly less funtacular name of CEC Entertainment, Inc., is launching a new campaign featuring, and I’ll just quote this because there’s really no way to improve upon its awesome: “a revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese as a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star.” I will now pause to let this amazingly marketed horror of that sentence sink in for a minute, while I play some skeeball.

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Deep-fried fair-food cereal: Can it be worse than regular Trix?

Pictured: Step 5 of the P90X program cycle.

GateHouse — I am not a big eater of fair food, which you can probably tell, because I am not dead.

I am also not a very big rider of fair rides, which you can also tell, for the same reason. There was an annual fair that came through my Indiana hometown every year — it had to, because it was an annual fair, and if carnies are known for anything it’s their strict adherence to contractual obligations — and I would go every year, because it was either that or play fantasy baseball with my friends. And here is this only time this sentence will ever be written anywhere on Earth: The county fair was the much stronger option for possibly meeting girls. (It was also a much better option for eating funnel cakes, which was the far more likely outcome.)

This happened when I was in my teens, in the mid-1930s according to my hair and posture, back when my unformed adolescent body could do things like consume three consecutive funnel cakes without collapsing into a heap of convulsive stomach-clutching. (By contrast, if I eat one whole glazed donut now I must run four miles to destroy the attendant calories, which is hard, as I don’t really have the two hours to spare.)

And it is a DARNED or possible GOLDANGED good thing, too, because if I were a teen hitting up the Lake County Fair now I would have all manner of newfangled (and newdanged!) fair foods to consume while not meeting any girls. (Can I tell you that I have never understood the idea of fair foods anyway, and not just because of my aversion to throwing up into a Crazy Ball game, but because I cannot fathom why, when you’re going to be hitting 8 Gs in a rattletrap spinny contraption that was built in 1956 and contains most of its original rivets, you definitely want your waist parts jammed full of unregulated dough prepared by undocumented gypsies. God the kids are going to LOVE going to the fair with Fun Dad in a few years.)



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Why All Of These Face-Chewing People Aren’t Signs Of The Zombie Apocalypse, Probably

Show’s over, Shakespeare


GateHouse — First, I will admit that it looks bad. In the past few weeks the news has been thick (annoyingly thick, not deliciously thick) with stories of innocent bystanders being attacked by what are pretty obviously zombies: a guy caught chewing on another guy’s face in Miami, a Maryland man charged with killing another man and eating his heart and portions of his brain, a dude in New Jersey who disemboweled himself and “threw his intestines at police officers,” according to a newspaper. All classic signs of zombie attack, except for the last thing, which is just gross, and, I believe, distasteful even by zombie standards, which are not terrifically strict when it comes to disembowelment.

But despite the mounting evidence and occasional intestinal throwing, I must urge you all to remain calm. This is NOT the zombie apocalypse. I mean, sure, the zombie apocalypse is coming, because it’s 2012, and, you know, Mayans or whatever. And it will bring suffering and plagues and moaning and the dramatic breaking of glass doors and puns about the best ways to escape from zombies. (Trains. Obviously.)

But these are isolated incidents, friends, not nearly the cause for alarm the overcaffeinated SEO-obsessed noisemakers on the Internet would have you believe. (Zombie apocalypse is your answer for everything.) Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the evidence. Except the intestines. You may keep those covered.


1. The zombie apocalypse is not going to start in Miami.

Now I’ll admit, if there’s any town I want to see fall into the hands of the ravaging undead, it’s probably Miami (also Cedar Rapids, Iowa, AND THE PEOPLE OF CEDAR RAPIDS KNOW WHY). But Miami’s climate is far too moist, humid and energetic to properly support zombie life, which, I am told by scientists and movies, mostly movies, is repelled by warmer climes, as well as unlikable professional basketball players and god-awful Latin dance music. Besides, Miami isn’t near any nuclear test facility, and everyone knows all zombie apocalypses start near nuclear test facilities. So the apocalypse, if it comes (and by that I mean “when it comes,” but I’m trying to keep faith or whatever), will likely start in someplace remote and small-townish, probably in Iowa. Hopefully Cedar Rapids.


Is there any type of monster the Cranberries have not prepared us for?


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The real reason pink slime is so delicious

Pictured: New York City school cafeteria


GateHouse — You hear a lot about pink slime these days, because frankly, pink slime is an a-MA-zing turn of phrase. It’s a writer’s dream, a lyrical, almost onomatopoeic slice of verbal sleight-of-hand that grabs your brain and demands it to conjure up an image, requires you to stop what you’re doing — eating a hoagie, feeding your baby, delivering a baby — to consider it. Frankly as soon as someone coined the phrase “pink slime” it was over, stick a fork in it. Actually that wouldn’t work because sticking a fork in an industrial-sized vat of gelatinous goo wouldn’t be practical and actually probably really frustrating; maybe you should go with a spoon in this scenario. Or an ice cream scoop. Ooh, soup ladle!

We think about pink slime for the same reason most people think about pink slime: Because we are writing “Ghostbusters II.” But also we think about it because with a meaning that evocative, especially in an age where headline value is measured by the level of instinctual milliseconds it takes someone to click on something distracting while they’re supposed to be working and/or driving, it’s perfect. It’s like “swine flu” or “SARS” or “Newt Gingrich” — your brain can’t help but think “THAT SOUNDS JUST AWFUL AND UNELECTABLE YET I CANNOT STOP MY HAND FROM CLICKING ON IT,” and there, before you know it, you’re 12 pages into pink slime material on the web and vowing to never eat beef, or slime, for the rest of your life.



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Veggie Tales: Why Congress wishes to beplumpen your children, and 9% of you are totally OK with that

GateHouse — Last week a Washington Post poll revealed that the United States Congress currently enjoys a nationwide approval rating of 9%. That is nine percent, as in one integer, as in Very Close To Zero, as in if you asked “Do you approve of the job Congress is doing?” to a group of zinfandel-sipping monkeys with typewriters in a warehouse in Des Moines, they would all say “Dear God no not at all are you NUTS?,” because monkeys are actually pretty smart.

Needless to say this 9% statistic is shocking, mostly because I would have guessed somewhere between 9 to 40 percentage points lower. NINE percent approval? Are you sure you didn’t mean nine people? Where do you thumbs-up smiley-faced keep-up-the-good-work types LIVE I wonder? Do you live in Congress? Are you all Boehners? Do you know what the Gallup people meant by “Congress?” Do you think they meant “Con-Air?” Do you think you were approving of Nicolas Cage? Because if so that’s still a dismayingly high number.


Trailer approval rating: 16%


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Well there goes a perfectly lucrative career in the field of cheese sculpture

Note: Actual artist not pictured, or a mouse

GateHouse — So I had this AMAZING idea to be a person who sculpts things out of cheese for a living.

Genius, right? Think of it: All the rewarding creativity of a life spent in art, coupled with the incredible opportunity to feast on raw hunks of tastiness without even having to take off the welder’s mask, coupled with years of increasingly confused looks from the FedEx guy. It would have been grand. Also, as a person whose work experience has been primarily in the newspaper/magazine fields, it would have been nice to have some job security for a change.

(Plus it actually made a lot more sense than my other idea, which was cheese painting, which turns out to be a total mess, is murder on the carpeting and basically makes the whole room smell like a long-expired otter, which reminds me: If the kids even ask you for an otter as a pet YOUR ANSWER IS NO.)

Oh, what a glorious future it would have been, my cheese sculptures and me, traveling the globe in privacy (turns out the TSA frowns on flying with massive cheese blocks, whether they fit in their precious “carry-on dimensions” or not), enjoying orange-tie openings at galleries and farms worldwide. I was going to be a STAR, at least in the shadowy realm where cheese meets art, which, let me tell you, isn’t a realm that generally produces a lot of 1%-ers, if you catch my drift.

So imagine the crushing disappointment in learning this weekend that someone has totally beat me to the cheese game. (No, not Mousetrap. The other one. Mousetrap I knew about already.)



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Overweight man’s beef with White Castle finally connects “White Castle” with “beef”

GateHouse — The grassroots protests spilling across the streets of New York against the excesses of Wall Street are raging into their second week and showing no signs of slowing, yet I am going to write about a dude who is too fat to sit at White Castle, because the Internet is very very large and plenty of people are talking about Wall Street, but who is standing up for White Castle in its hour of need? THIS MOTIVATED SLOVAK, THAT’S WHO.

Indeed, my blood brothers at the Castle know that I stand with them whenever some yappy 23-year-old energy drink consumption machine from The Media tries to besmirch, befoul or befmirch them with stories of “ghastly nutritional conditions” or “obese-American prejudice” or “fact-based stories about what animal remains actually constitute their Triscuit-thin patties.”

They know this because White Castle IS IN MY DNA. No, seriously, my Slovak grandparents lived pretty much across the street from a White Castle in Whiting, Ind., and my grandfather was known to spend his days there from about 7 a.m.-6 p.m. — moreso if my dear Slovak grandmother God bless her soul was feeling particularly prickly about the volume of objects he hoarded in the basement (official figures are hard to come by, but let us just say that special arrangements had to be made with the Dumpster Company in Whiting, Ind.). So when I say that White Castle is in my blood, I mean, no really, that stuff is straight IN MY BLOOD, probably slowing down the entire circulatory process and gumming things up something awful around the aorta.

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Are your children plump and sweaty enough for Michelle Malkin?

Problem. Solved.

GateHouse — Yep. I like McRibs.

You can talk all day long about their ghoulish caloric content, you can walk me line-by-line through the roster of vitamins and minerals they don’t contain, you can provide me with photographic proof of the dog-meat which is smooshed into a grey paste in Cambodia and shipped via donkey, unsupervised ocean liner and nonrefrigerated truck to an outdoor McProcessingfacility/wastewater plant/shooting range in North Carolina, and I will not care because I like McRibs. Someone please rip this out of the newspaper, or three-finger-swipe-left on the iPad or whatever you do to save things, and bring it to my funeral, which will take place in about eight weeks, so everyone can enjoy a good long laugh before the luau. (Note: My funeral is going to be awesome.)

Otherwise, and occasional McGriddle aside (I AM BUT A MAN) I try not eat at McDonald’s. Not for any militant reason I’m gonna tweet about 12 times a day — I just don’t. And for the most part, neither does Little Man — though that’s not always easy to do, because at some point it’s 7:45 p.m. and we haven’t had dinner and the idea of crafting an organic, multi-course Meal out of locally raised and humanely caught fish loses by about a billion to the idea that I can sate my moody and undernourished child immediately, through nuggets.

We can’t boast a 100 percent success rate, but we try hard. In this regard (and few others) I’m like Michelle Obama, who despite Republican objections to her existence/face, has for years promoted healthy eating and living among Our Nation’s Youth.

McDonald’s, you may have seen, recently announced that it would begin offering more “fruit” and fewer chemicals/discarded animal legs in its Happy Meals, by way of atoning for forcing billions upon billions of preservative-filled meathorks on kids for 200 years, but I mean it’s not like there’s been any recent appreciable change in childhood obesity rates or anything.



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