One Man’s Poison

April 18, 2003

The state of Tennessee just passed a law banning the sale of junk food in schools. Now, I’ll address the obvious problems of such a ban in a moment, but first let’s define what exactly junk food is: if you look at the list of ingredients and it’s not only longer than War and Peace but so incomprehensible it might as well be written in Russian then it’s junk food. If any item in the list of ingredients contains every letter in the alphabet then it’s junk food. If it says "MILK CHOCOLATE" in big letters on the label but you can’t find either milk or chocolate in the list of ingredients then it’s junk food.

The minimum shelf-life for junk food is twenty-seven years–and that includes the preprocessed squares of fish-like material and the gooey substance referred to as "tartar sauce", in memory of the Tartars who swept across the Russian steppes spreading tangy goodness and burning peasant hovels centuries ago – that composes what fast food restaurants pass off under the name "fish sandwiches". If all other sources of salt in the world are exhausted there will still be at least a 10-year supply of salt for the entire planet in the contents of a single truck carrying potato chips.

Junk food is what you eat if you’ve accidentally overdosed on celery. Some junk food kills cockroaches, proving conclusively that we are the superior species. But most importantly, junk food is an important part of childhood. What will become of Halloween if we ban junk food? More importantly, what will become of Saturday morning cartoons? Adults – real adults – love Saturday morning cartoons, especially the classics because they can recognize the complex subtleties and philosophical depths of good cartoons. After watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner and fall of cliffs the French philosopher Albert Camus said, "Yeah, this is exactly what I meant when I wrote ‘The Rebel’." Kids love Saturday morning cartoons because they’re full of sugar and polyscorbithajakyxobenzefiquorzegnium – the kids, that is, not the cartoons.

Is junk food a drug? Of course it is, but so is willow bark. And let’s face it, kids are smart enough to know there’s a difference between street drugs and junk food because one comes out of a vending machine and the other comes from a greasy, skinny guy whose personality is much less appealing than that of the vending machine. One takes dollar bills, the other prefers unmarked, nonsequential twenties. If junk food is banned that’s going to open up a whole new black market. Not good enough?

Consider this: you may have heard that before vaccinations parents would send their kids to play with whoever in the neighborhood got mumps or measles or chicken pox or a detached retina so all the children would get these diseases at once and get over them. Plus it gave the parents a chance to relax and throw wild cocktail parties and smoke cigarettes using long ebony cigarette holders.

Well, junk food serves a similar purpose now. It prepares children for a world of pollution and industrial waste by putting these things in their bodies early, making them immune. What really surprises me is that the teachers aren’t protesting this ban on junk food. When I was a kid we would get chocolate milk and cookies, then we’d go out on the playground and run around like gorillas who’d just seen Charlton Heston. This would be followed by "nap time" when we’d be comatose and our teacher could sneak to the teachers’ lounge with her ebony cigarette holder. Not only will kids lose the intoxicating enjoyment only deep-fried candy-coated goodness can give but teachers will lose the only truly quiet half-hour they have in their day. I’m afraid the educational system will collapse without junk food, and that’ll leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Dear Tide, I’m writing to you to say what an excellent product you have. I’ve used it since the beginning of married life, when my Mom told me it was the best.

In fact, about a month ago, while at my mother-in-law’s house, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. She then berated me about my drinking problem.

Well, one thing lead to another and by the time our spat was over, I had alot of her blood on my white blouse as well.

I tried to get the stains out using her bargain detergent, but they just wouldn’t come out.

On my way home, I stopped and got a bottle of liquid Tide. All of the stains came out. So well, in fact, that the DNA tests were negative!

I thank you, once again, for a great product.

Well, I’ve gotta go. I now have to write a letter to the Hefty bag people.

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