The Food in Film Blogathon is an event devoted to movies with an emphasis on food, hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.
Super Size Me
It wasn't the burgers or the fries that enticed me, not at first; it was the cookies. I remember the box they came in, with its colorful cast of characters: the clown, the burger thief, the burger-headed law enforcement official, the purple... thing. It's not like the cookies themselves were that special; I, like millions of American children, had simply fallen under the spell of those characters. Credit where credit's due; whoever thought of them was a genius.
They made me want to eat at McDonald's.
No matter what your eating habits are now, we all grew up eating fast food at some point - unless you lived in a commune with parents named Sunflower and Rainbow. In high school, my friends and I frequented a Roy Rogers that had a basement; this was awesome because it gave us a measure of privacy. I was fond of their roast beef sandwich. There was also a really popular pizza joint that had great pizza. It's gone now, as is the Roy's. Sigh...
When I lived in Columbus, I ate, for the first time, at Five Guys, Charley's, Jimmy John's, Potbelly, Donatos Pizza, Panda Garden, Quiznos, Checkers and Panera Bread, though I hesitate to include it with the more traditional fast food joints because their food is better. Five Guys was great because they stayed open late and played classic rock. (Also, I wanna give a shout-out to Buckeye Donuts, where I spent quite a few late late nights!)
When the Columbus BlueJackets made the NHL Playoffs for the first time in franchise history, I was in Panera, listening on my laptop to Game 4 of their first-round series against the hated Detroit Red Wings, hoping we'd win at least one game - but that too many men on the ice penalty in the third period killed any chance of that. (I commemorated the moment in my City Mouse cartoon.)
Columbus had this great fast food joint called Raising Cane's; I ate there all the time. They made delicious chicken fingers and crinkly fries that came with a cut of toasty bread. There were at least two I recall; I ate at the one across the street from the Ohio State campus. I miss Cane's so much. When I return to Columbus one day, even if only to visit, it'll be the first place I go to eat!
In recent years, health concerns have forced me to change my habits and take baby steps towards eating better. Vija had lent me the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, and that alone made me give up McDonald's and Pepsi. I've since sworn off the major fast food chains and I've cut down severely on pizza (which has been partly Sandi's influence; she used to be a fiend for pizza, but since she went on her diet, she hasn't touched the stuff), but man, some days it is a struggle to avoid places like Wendy's or Five Guys when I'm hungry.
It's fair to say, therefore, I was in a receptive frame of mind when I first saw Super Size Me, the documentary in which director Morgan Spurlock offers himself up as a human guinea pig, eating nothing but McDonald's food for a month in an attempt to show how damaging fast food can be, and boy, does he succeed. He throws up after three days. He goes through mood swings. He gets heart palpitations. He scares his girlfriend and his doctors and his mother, but he endures. This film is almost like an episode of Jackass directed by Michael Moore.
Spurlock also charts the obesity trend in America, criss-crossing the country, talking to lawyers, health officials, doctors, school administrators and regular people about fast food. No executive from McDonald's would speak to Spurlock, surprise surprise. The conclusion he draws is that selling unhealthy food is too profitable for the burger barons to significantly change, although McDonald's did discontinue their super-size menu options after this movie came out. They insisted the timing was coincidental.
Spurlock has made a sequel, currently making the festival rounds, in which, get this, he opens a fast food restaurant - in Columbus! (God, I wish I could have been there for that.) It's a chicken shack that's brutally honest in its marketing, but the movie itself discusses what the fast food mavens really mean when they claim to offer healthy food. Can't wait to see it.
Other movies featuring food:
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Soul Food Junkies