How do businesses with low-priced products, and thus low-level profits per transaction, thrive in our land of opportunity?
High volume of sales — and not just on Black Friday.
How has America become the land of the obese?
High volume of calorie consumption — and not just on Thanksgiving.
Most Americans do have today off from work — at least, most Americans who still have jobs — to gorge on turkey, gravy, dressing, pumpkin pie and assorted other overly filling fare.
Then again, many vigilant journalists, including this one, are so committed to the public’s right to know that we will work on this traditional holiday.
However, don’t waste your pity on us.
Focus, instead, on the plight of the severely overweight, nearly all of whom got and stay in that sad shape by overindulging their eating urges.
As a direct consequence they suffer disproportionately — and predictably — from heart disease, diabetes and dirty looks from folks who have to sit by them on airliners.
OK, so even some of us media members carry excess body baggage.
And while individual choices contribute to the unsightly spectacle of so many American weighing so much more than they should, our nation pays a heavy collective price for it in higher health care costs.
Yet members of the portly’s swelling ranks suffer not just lowered life spans but lowered self-esteem.
Some like it not
In another of our era’s proliferating paradoxes, even as America as gotten fatter our culture’s ideal body image has gotten thinner.
Check out Marilyn Monroe in her fetching prime.
By today’s misguided, way-too-skinny standards, she looks chubby.
Yet when she died on my 9th birthday in 1962, our hamburgers, fries and sodas were served in much smaller portions.
Last year, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the size of a typical fast-food burger had tripled since 1960 — from 3.9 ounces to 12 ounces. Over that same span, the average size of fries (2.4 to 6.7 ounces) and soft drinks (from 7 to 16, 24 or even 42 more ounces) has also soared.
What once was called “large” is now called “small.”
Hardee’s website hails its “Monster Thickburger” as “two one-third-lb. charbroiled 100% Black Angus beef patties, four strips of bacon, three slices of American cheese and mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun.”
To some not-lean-but-hungry types, that looks even more appetizing than today’s big bird on the family table.
Now, if you’re old and local enough, recall how comparatively little those 15-cent burgers were at the first Charleston Hardee’s, which opened on the west end of the peninsula near the Ashley River bridge a half century ago.
That means we should blame our ever-widening corpulence crisis on Hardee’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and the other fast-food superpowers waging a supersizing arms race, right?
They’re simply serving the ravenous public taste.
As for expanding requirements that restaurants provide nutritional information about their food’s content, sure, that might help a few slow-learning customers realize the perils of packing down artery-clogging goo on a colossal scale.
Still, why should anybody need to know such numbers to know that a Monster Thickburger is monstrously fattening?
And can Americans who don’t get enough exercise fairly fault fast-food tycoons for that potentially life-shortening mistake?
They do run, run, run
Want to run off some calories in advance of putting on today’s feed bag?
Join the crowd at Charleston’s 36th annual Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble, the largest 5K race in the state (a record 5,833 people finished last year), starting at 9 a.m. at Marion Square.
And while doing your holiday duty by gulping down massive quantities of not-so-fast food and watching “America’s Team” beat the Oakland Raiders, remember to be thankful for your American rights to choose.
That includes the self-making right to choose how well, or not well, you take care of yourself with what and how much you eat and how much you move.
As Aristotle advised: “All things in moderation.”
As that charming, all-American French chef Julia Child advised:
And happy Thanksgiving.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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