Clifford, a big, red food addict?

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A couple of decades in recovery from food addiction has taught me that it's an illness best self-diagnosed, because — well, to speak for my own experience, until I conceded that I had it, I sure wasn't going to do anything about it.

Having said that, I think that Clifford the Big Red Dog may have issues.

What makes me think so is "Clifford's Cookie Craving," episode 18 from Season 2, produced in 2002, and what I can say with certainty is that if you've had trouble conceiving what it's like inside the head of a food addict, this is an excellent illustration. No, really.

Briefly, a massive cookie ("Clifford-sized") is mounted for display at the local fair, but before it can be unveiled, Clifford and two pals eat it all. "Uh oh. I have a feeling were should get out of here," his friend T-Bone says before it all goes wrong.

They start out committed to the people-food rule that "if it drops on the ground or it's headed that way, it belongs to the dogs and that's OK." but are called by the cookie's aroma until they can hold out no longer, even though it goes against their code, even though they know there will be painful consequences. (At the gala unveiling, they are caught red-pawed in front of the whole town, though of course, it's a cartoon so they incur no shame.) They eat a little, resolve to eat no more, but then continue, trying to eat it back into a shape that no one will notice what they've done. But they end up eating it all and feeling remorse.

Dude, I can relate. Many times, in my parents' house growing up or on babysitting jobs or at friends' houses, I ate food in secret, at odd times and in reckless amounts, and then tried to cover it up by buying a replacement or at least by shoving it back into a shelf so I might escape detection.

I certainly don't think the scriptwriters set out to illustrate the condition, and almost certainly were pleased with their light-hearted fun. That's part of the climate in which food addicts exist, where the demons we fight are others' fodder for kiddie cartoons.

Postscript: No, I don't go trolling through kids' TV fare looking for lovable characters to sully. I happened across this while watching with my 3-year-old, and I saw what I saw.