Great pub kitchens pose a serious health risk to people like me.

    If they’re making cheeseburgers, and I’m within 200 yards of the grill exhaust, it’s all I can do to scramble inside and dig in before I choke to death on my own saliva.

    So I think good-smelling exhaust from pubs should be illegal, because it forces we unsuspecting, weak-willed innocents to eat big cheeseburgers even when we don’t really need them. 

    Think I’m losing my mind?

    Consider the statements made by “experts” and the widening plethora of social engineers whenever they cite fast food restaurants as an alleged cause of rising obesity.

    First they blame McDonald’s for creating advertising that makes the food look delicious, then they attack Mickey D’s for permitting its customers to buy as much food and drink as they want to, without discriminating against age, weight, clothing or cash.

    I thought operating that way was called “the restaurant business.”

    Imagine what would happen if McDonald’s put up signs that said, “We reserve the right to restrict how much and what kinds of food we sell to fat people and teenagers, especially to inner city urban teenagers.”

    McDonald’s has actually heavily promoted a wide range of healthy foods, but that’s not good enough for self-appointed PETA-wannabe delusional extremists like “The Center for Science In The Public Interest” who actually believe that fast food restaurants are guilty of encouraging teens to eat big meals.

    Can you remember the last time a teenager had to be encouraged to wolf down all the food in sight?

    I would have eaten a wolf if there was one in sight when I was a teenager, and washed it down with a malted.

    I found a generic picture from the 1950’s that shows teenagers at a restaurant devouring eight scoop banana-split sundaes with whipped cream, and giant burgers stacked with layers of every condiment and garnish that Heinz put sugar in, which would pretty much mean all 57 varieties.

    That’s how almost everyone ate back then, when, apparently, we were all just the right weight, and every diner and malt shop and drive-in restaurant in America had wall-to-wall color pictures of giant sandwiches and “blue plate special” platters filled end-to-end with nothing but piles of meat and potatoes.

    Today that would be called the tempting evil of “super-sizing,” but in those days we called it “a meal.”

    A Big Mac has 2.3 ounces of meat (pre-cooking weight) and a half ounce (that’s 0.5 ounces) of processed cheese. The “shakes” are made with reduced-fat ice cream, ice, and no malt powder.  McDonald’s uses thin fries because a lot of air gets in between them in those little bags and cups, so you’re not really getting as much as it looks like (a bag of small fries is 250 calories, not exactly a diet-buster).

    Back in the 50’s, hamburgers were rarely less than 5 ounces of meat and often approached a good, fatty half pound.  A cheeseburger had one, if not two, big slices of real saturated-fat American, and a small order of fries produced a plate of thick-cut hunks piled up to your nose hairs. 

    A two inch pile would reach my nose hairs now, but in those days the pile was a lot higher.

    “Malted milk shakes” came in one size: big enough to fill an eight ounce glass almost three times.  And they were made with malt powder, whole milk and real ice cream, not reduced-fat anything.

    Eating big meals at restaurants used to be considered normal behavior, and if someone got fat, it was his own fault, not Ronald McDonald’s or poor little Wendy’s.

    And, honestly: no one considered a burger, fries and a malted to be a big meal.

    For a teenager, it was an after school snack.

    I wonder where today’s teenagers--especially poor, inner city kids--get all that money to buy big fast food meals five days a week.  I may not think the meals are inherently bad, but they’re not especially cheap, either, for those on a budget.

    Then there’s the experts’ assertion that fast food advertising and in-store signage have some Svengali-like effect and are somehow unfair to consumers, especially teens.

    Young people are exposed to all kinds of advertising all day long, on their computers and smart phones, not just in front of the tube, and considering how savvy today’s kids are when it comes to media, it’s just silly to suggest that a catchy ad or an in-store sign is what convinces them that what’s more fun than a barrel of fries is two barrels of fries with a side barrel of fried onion rings.

    When I was kid, our neighbor would sit in his second floor bedroom around six each evening and yell “teen sighting!” if he saw his son and a bunch of friends coming down the street.  He and his wife would hide a loaf of white bread and a jar of peanut butter so the two of them would have something left for dinner after the tide of locusts had finished stripping the kitchen of anything that wasn’t Formica. 

    I’ve studied and researched this issue, and I’ve reached the conclusion that people--and teenagers--who aren’t genetically predisposed to being heavy get fat because they eat too much food and avoid exercise.

    Actually, I didn’t do any study and research at all before reaching that conclusion.

    I also didn’t do any study and research before concluding that if you jump off the Empire State Building you’re going to be late for dinner.

    But maybe I should do some research after all. 

    I’ll go to McDonald’s and see if I can order a Third Pounder Angus Deluxe without being hypnotized into ordering a “big meal” with fries and a drink, or super-sizing myself into an early grave.

    I may be risking a downward spiral into obesity, but it’s a lot safer than walking past a pub kitchen exhaust and salivating to death on the sidewalk.


Major Ashpole

The Five Lakes Heron

Dear Mr. Ashpole:

   The Center for Science in the Public Interest is neither a PETA-wannabe nor any other kind of wannabe.

   Our organization is unique in focusing its dependably immoderate approach on nutrition. 

   And our extreme and generally unsupportable positions are the result of a specific and considered political viewpoint, not a desire to emulate any other group, nor to produce information that might be a benefit of any kind to persons who truly need guidance.

   I would also point out that our often outrageous recommendations to the public must purposely be designed to attract the most media attention possible because our funding goals make that a necessity. 

   Yes, Mr. Ashpole: Even not-for-profit lunatic cheap-shot artists have to make a living, and these days “a living” means something in excess of $200,000 per year. 

   After all: you can’t be some kind of middle class schlepper and still be able

to afford the kind of diet we recommend.

   Yours, in serial elitism posturing as science,

Pippi Lytell

Director of Marginally Honest Communications

The Center for Science in the Public Interest

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I Googled it every which way, but I can’t find a single example of anyone salivating to death while they’re upright.

   Choking, yes. Salivating, no.

   I salivate all the time, and you had me half scared out of my pajamas until I completed my research.

   BTW: Come visit sometime.  I know some girls.

Hugh Hefner

America’s Mansion, CA

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I have a blue plate, and I think it’s very special.

   I don’t have any pictures of it with food on it, but I could take one for you if you want.

Sen. John McCain (R, Arizona)

Former Maverick

At Lunch, or Out To Lunch (I forget which, or if they’re both the same...maybe I should ask Sarah)

Major Ashpole

The Five Lakes Heron

Dear Mr. Ashpole:

   I can assure you that today’s grill exhaust industry is concerned with safety above all else, and our proud member manufacturers do everything possible to drive exhaust upward, not at unsuspecting passersby.

   Do you believe me? 

   I don’t know why you would.

Arthur Askiewfog

Communications Director

Restaurant Exhaust Manufacturers Association

Dear Mr. Askiewfog,

   If you know where I can get a used exhaust vent that hasn’t been cleaned, please let me know.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Every time you publish one of my letters, you cut it off halfway through.

   It makes me look like an idiot.

   If you continue

Barbara Walters

Even Smarter Than I Think I Am

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Are you not aware that Ronald McDonald and Wendy are fictional characters created for use in advertising?

   It is ridiculous for anyone to blame them personally for any failings of their respective corporations.

   Let us take care to put blame where blame is due, and not create relationships that don’t exist just for the sake of making an argument.

Sarah Palin

Governor of Angry People, Fat and Skinny

P.S. I think this letter is even better than my last one.  I mean, look how sharp I wrote! It’s my carefulest language ever!

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Have you ever thought of cutting your nose hairs?

   People do it, you know.

Big Bird

Sesame Street, NY

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Your disgusting reference to your nose hairs is a shameless call for attention.  Why don’t you grow up, and get some counseling while you’re at it.

Paula Abdul, Just A Little Older,

But Still America’s Red-Hot Sweetheart, Right?

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I’m not sure what a “generic picture” is.

   Does this have something to do with Scientology?

   I mean, anyone can figure out that all generics would be pictures, while all pictures would not necessarily be generics. 

   But that doesn’t seem very generic, does it?

   Anyway, I still don’t get it.

   Proust.  Wittgenstein.

Dennis Miller

Willing To Admit I Don’t Know Everything,

But I Can Still Reason With the Best of Them,

At Least, The Best At Fox News


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