Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Time For My Weight, I'm Watching ESPN

By ordering with a days notice, customers of Mallie's Sports Bar and Grill in suburban Detroit can sit down to enjoy a 134 pound cheeseburger. The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger is now the largest burger commercially sold in America, reports the AP. It comes on a 50 pound bun, takes 12 hours to cook and at least three people to flip. Would you like fries with that? Owner Steve Mallie is waiting for the results to know if he is now the vendor of the largest hamburger in America, topping the 124 pound burger served last year by Denny's Beer Barrel pub in Clearfield, PA.

Down south in Mississippi, another record was broken this year—the first state with over 30% of its population officially obese. Not overweight, but obese. In fact, according to the Trust for America's Health, not a single state reduced its percentage of obese residents during 2007. While the Center for Disease Control is calling obesity in America worse than any plague or epidemic of the Middle Ages, a 134 pound burger is reported with humor—just another crazy record for Guinness. Because they know this is not just a novelty, many news reports also add protocol on ordering the beef feast—24 hours in advance, please. Popular culture appears dangerously disconnected from reality. What's that you say? You have the You Tube clip of Joey Chestnut eating 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes to win the annual ESPN Hot Dog Eating Contest? Finally, Nathan's Yellow Mustard Belt is back in the United States.

Competition is fierce in the United States, and what can be made into a sport often is. Over-indulgence is a time-honored battleground with determined Americans trying to out drink, out buy, and out sex all competitors. However, those competitions are mostly held in the movies and are sporadically mentioned on television. Food, appears to be a different matter. ESPN is the largest cable sports network in America, and the annual contest is held on Independence Day. But eating too many hot dogs is killing us in record—and growing—numbers. What other major cause of death in this country is a nationally televised sport? When was the last cigarette smoking competition? Why haven't the good doctors, government workers, nutritionists and Oprah hammered an aversion of food-binging into our heads like that which we would probably feel if we watched Joey Chestnut smoke 84 Newports in 15 minutes? Gross, right? Right??

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