Monday, April 26, 2010

Silliest New Product Award 2009

Once again, the time has come to bestow the Silliest New Product Award. A long time has passed since I last gave out this award, for Bagel-fuls. But please understand that this award is not just for any minor foolish product. If it was, I could give it out weekly. But no--a Silliest New Product must scale the Everest of foolishness. And at last, we have a contender.

Once again, the product in question is a food product. I will have to start keeping an eye out for foolish devices or articles of clothing. I don't want to limit myself to food, although admittedly it's something I get passionate about. This food product is even sillier than Bagel-fuls was. It add a whole new dimension to silly food, in my opinion. There's no denying that our society is loaded with silly food, even dangerous silly food. Yes, we keep trying to find ways to stuff more caffeine into our beverages. Yes, our desserts are so sweet that sugar is often the first ingredient. And let's not forget poutine.

The thing is, though, we know that that sort of stuff is junk food. People may joke that poutine is a meal, but they don't eat it as such too often, unless they actively want to die young. As much junk food as we eat--and we eat a lot of it--at least we are aware, however dimly, that it's not a real meal, and not something we should be eating very often.

But what if some daring and black-hearted individual should redefine the meal? What if you could eat something that was incredibly bad for your health, but still feel as if you'd had a perfectly adequate meal and were not doing anything wrong? For such is the cunning of my award recipient that he, whoever he may be, has entirely redefined the concept of "meal" in just such a revolutionary way.

Oh, we've had meal redefinition before. Don't get me wrong. I am aware of the bold stroke that created the TV dinner: meals apportioned out in a partitioned foil tray. (That was before the advent of microwaves, of course; now it's a partitioned plastic tray.)

Still, the TV dinner, and its offspring, the nukeable dinner, continue to give lip service to the idea of food groups. Some form of vegetable matter still constitutes part of the meal. Said vegetables may be limp and tasteless and people may not eat them, but at least they're there.

Then there's the junk food meal, with its three food groups: hunk of meat with filler, bun, and fries stuffed into a little cardboard packet. Admittedly, the vegetables are absent, but at least some degree of food groupage remains. Also, look at the name. We recognize that this is junk. We don't take it seriously. That's important. In this age of rising obesity and diabetes rates, it may be little enough to hold onto, but it's something.

The real coup has come with the throwing out of food groups altogether. Now, it seems, we are ready to accept the concept of a meal consisting of just one food group, and in a form almost totally devoid of fiber and nutrients. At least, somebody thinks we are, and frighteningly enough, he may be right. It is a stroke of Lex Luthor-like genius. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... drumroll, please... Domino's Pasta in a Bread Bowl.

That's right. What's pasta made of? White flour. What's the bread bowl made of? White flour. So you have a situation where someone can consume a great big lump of refined flour product with a little bit of creamy sauce on top (also containing white flour) and consider that he or she has eaten a meal.

This is bad, folks. This is very, very bad, although perhaps it is the logical end of decades of addiction-fueled, simple-carbohydrate binging. But I don't think we can just blame the consumer in this instance. I refuse to believe that Domino's has been hounded by people crying, "Stop serving us our pasta in real bowls--we want it in pizza dough! It's the only way we can get enough bready stuff!" No. I think what's going on here is that Domino's is actively trying to kill us.

This brings up the question: Why is Domino's trying to kill us? My best guess is, for the fun of it. I think they're serving up those bread bowls and then hunkering down like Kilroy and peeking through the little window where the waitresses leave the orders, watching as the customer eats his "meal" and giggling maniacally to themselves. Perhaps saying things like, "Oh my God, he's eating it! What a moron!" Much like Colbert Report viewers did when that suicidal guy ate a fifteen-pound burger.

Now, you may argue that this is a shortsighted way to do business. Sure, you have a little fun watching the mayhem. Sure, your customers' addiction to simple carbohydrates gets even worse, and you do a brisk business for a while. But then they die, and where is your business then? OK, there's a new generation, but if they do the same thing, they'll die untimely deaths as well, and eventually the shrinking population is going to impact your bottom line, right? It's not a good long term plan, is it?

To which I'd respond, hey, it's worked for the producers of cheap alcohol. So far, anyway. And let's face it, most businesses are based on short-term gain. Hell, the whole economy's based on short-term gain. That's why nobody wants to do anything about global warming.

But I sense myself drifting off-topic, so let me just return to the point and say, Dominos, you suck. Once, you seduced me with your Extravaganza pizza. But with Pasta in a Bread Bowl, I have lost all respect for you.

2 comments:

The Happy Painter said...

Love it! The kvetch .. not the pasta in a bread bowl!

Vivian said...

Thanks HP!

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