I'm not eating at the 99

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

The 99 is a medium-sized chain of basic American food eateries that's been around Greater Boston for ages. Up 'til now, it was never my first choice but I was willing to stop there if it seemed the best option in whatever strip mall I found myself in.

But until it takes down its current "craveworthy" ads, I will find somewhere else, and I will probably switch away from the radio station running them (98.5 The Sports Hub, I'm thinking of you). That's probably not the reaction they were going for.

To an addict, the phenomenon of craving is serious business. I have found by hard-won, even bitter experience, that when I ingest some substances, the biochemical effect is that my body demands more. I speak about food, of course, but it's more understandable for most people to think of it in alcoholic terms: The phenomenon of craving is why alcoholics abstain from, rather than trying to control, intake. Once it's in the blood, judgement is severely undercut, if not temporarily destroyed.

I know that the 99 and its ad agency were speaking colloquially, similar to when someone says, in a fit of glee, that "those pennucci squares were so addictive!" (Believe me: "addictive" is nothing to be gleeful over.) But still, the ads' subtext is "eat our food, and we'll have our hooks into you."

Remember "Bet you can't eat just one?" Same thing.

Now, finally, I come to what has moved me over the line from mere annoyance to firm objection. This morning, the portion of the ad's "defintions" of crave-worthy slipped through my consciousness was, "Crave-worthy is when I set a good example for my kids by cleaning my plate of that delicious fried chicken." (I paraphrase, but closely enough.)

Let's set aside the question of whether cleaning one's plate, especially of restaurant portions. ... Actually, let's not. It is never a good example for kids to overeat, period.

But then to tack on "fried chicken" to the end is grossly worse. Fried foods taste great, which is why many people eat too much of them, and possibly why parents would feed it to finicky kids, 'cause at least they're eating something. But it is idiocy to say that kids need a "good example" to eat junk food.

It is subversive and perverse, and I'm not going to help pay for the ads by spending any money there. I hope you'll do the same. 

Set a good example.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
make investments in employee wellbeing that pay off in corporate success.
Video | Services | Clients