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The Slippery Slope of Projection

About the cover


Chow Down

Dry dip, unhealthy bottled water and Frankenstein chips.


As well-fed Americans, we tend to pack an amazing array of chow into our meat holes. Many so-called "doctors" like to alarm us by claiming all the things we most enjoy eating are horribly bad for us, but I reject their screwy "science." If animal fats, salt, sugar and nitrates are so bad for us, then why do they taste so darned good? Sure, we can eat ourselves to death, but it should be via the classic routes of coronary failure or a good ol' diabetic seizure, not by the prevalence of fashionably designed foodstuffs.

See, there was a day when real men died from crappy diets that made this nation what it is today. Many a 48-year-old man executed a flawless swan-dive into immortality after polishing off a three-pound ribeye steak smothered in butter, bleu cheese and cigarette butts. A meal like that needed bourbon and a baked potato loaded with sour cream, cheese, salt, more butter and bonus lard. These men had drum-tight, calcified bellies of emulsified animal fat, with blood pressure sufficient to operate a hydraulic crane. They died young, but they died well.

However, if foodies want to commit suicide by stuffing their skull-caves in today's world, they're going to have to resort to some of the stupidest packaged foods ever offered a glazed-eyed public. More than just containing a plethora of chemicals better suited for embalming a mastodon, which they undoubtedly would do, there are certain food items being offered the American public that are working under the assumption that your brain is already dead.


Take, for example, Hamilton House Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Goat Cheese Dip Mix. The convenience of just whipping something like this into a vat of sour cream is lazy enough, but the package contains a very important disclaimer that sort of renders the entire point moot: "Just add 2 red peppers and 4 oz. goat cheese." Which, coincidentally, are the two very ingredients most snackers would be missing if they wanted to buy a ready-made dip mix.

Another concoction the world doesn't need is "vitaminwater," a drink that makes one of the world's healthiest beverages (water) less so by giving it a name that makes it sound so while shoveling in enough sugar to make it not so. In fact, the corporation that makes "vitaminwater" (which shall remain anonymous to protect this paper from spurious litigation, but which we'll refer to as "Coca-Cola" for the purpose of slander) defends the wholly unhealthy beverage by claiming that "no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage." You know, except for the word "vitamin." And "water."

Sure, I could talk about spray pancake batter that spews sticky goop with a faint taste of nitrous oxide right onto your griddle, or marvel about the barbecued-chicken-sandwich-in-a-can I recently saw on a WalMart shelf (where I'm sure it remains today, redolent in its post-apocalyptic zombie-like cylinder). But that would only detract from the most egregious food category that continues to find new and novel ways to make the rest of the world hate us: chips.


I recently was exposed to a new Lay's potato chip claiming a "waffles and chicken" flavor, the most unholy of flavor mash-ups since my high-school friend Shaun used to dip his tater tots in his milkshake. Placing this potato chip on my tongue was like licking a hobo's armpit. It made me want to shave my tongue. I have no idea why we need any chip flavors more exotic than salty or saltier.

Of course, Frito-Lay didn't get the memo, either. Originally, Doritos tortilla chips were snacking perfection, so of course they had to be futzed with. What was once a wonderful chip embarked on a mission to introduce a multitude of flavors, turning Doritos into a sodium-rich Hydra with heads made out of nacho cheese, ranch dressing and salsa verde.

But the marketing pinheads who make flavor dust have gone off the rails with their latest creation. See, Doritos made a tortilla chip that begat Doritos Nacho flavor, which was then abducted by Taco Bell and begat the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos. Now, Doritos wants a piece of Taco Bell's action, and is offering a new flavor called — I'm not making this up — Doritos Taco Bell Locos Tacos-flavored Doritos. It's the chip inspired by the taco inspired by the chip. And it tastes like meat, which is wrong on so many levels.

This is the kind of gastronomical tomfoolery that makes my head — and stomach — hurt. While I can appreciate the wonders of modern science in our food industry, and clever packaging and bright colors, I'm not sure I need my food this synthesized. As an enlightened man, I do try to eat better and I understand why a diet of scotch and medium-rare beef is not a good idea. But I can't believe that food designed in committee is what my body craves, either.




Henry Lightcap dips his chips in Las Cruces.



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