Four with fries. Yes, I said four!

July 27, 2011

There’s a place in New Brunswick that serves up a hot dog known as the “crackler.” A strip of bacon is wrapped around the dog like an armature, and the dog and bacon are deep fried. I used to frequent that place — Tido ‘n His Junkyard Dogs — before the Gannett Co. discovered that I was of no further use and I had to find work in another neighborhood. I thought to myself at first that it might be easier to forego the cracker and simply put a loaded revolver to my head, but my watering palate got the best of me, and indulged myself from time to time. I suppose one could make the argument that I was putting my family’s future at risk by abusing my arteries in that manner, but I was, after all, accepted “for better or for worse,” and if this was as bad as “worse” got, perhaps it wasn’t a bad bargain for anyone concerned.

I have often wondered, standing in a checkout line while some bloke at the front asks the clerk for an eight-dollar pack of cigarettes from the vault, whether I would still lay down that much money if I had been a smoker. I have never been a smoker, so I have never had to confront that dilemma, but it seems as if New York Times columnist Mark Bittman would like to come at me from a different direction.

Bittman wrote this week that the federal government should heavily tax unhealthy foods so as to discourage people like me from becoming a drain on the health care system.

This is the approach that has already been taken with cigarettes, which the feds and the states have gleefully taxed and taxed again, boasting that they’re only looking out for people who can’t look out for themselves, whereas what they’re really doing is compensating for their own inability to control government spending by making scapegoats of people engaged in an unpopular but legal activity. The last I heard, beer wasn’t a healthy drink. Why don’t governments tax the hell out of that? I think you know why.

Bittman isn’t in government, and I don’t suspect him of such a cynical motive — although he does mention the potential for billions in tax revenues from consumers of donuts and Pepsi. I think he means well, and in a way that’s almost worse. Government can do whatever it wants in the way of public education — things such as Mayor Bloomberg’s calorie-posting requirement — but slapping what amounts to a financial penalty on people exercising their freedom to eat what they choose, which is perfectly legal, is too much government in private life.

You can read Mark Bittman’s column by clicking HERE.

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7 Responses to “Four with fries. Yes, I said four!”


  1. Three things. 1) Beer is healthy. 2) I like your attitude, because bacon wrapped brats are “the bomb.” 3) Bittman needs to realize that “eating right” won’t prevent him from dying. =)

  2. shoreacres Says:

    I could get completely het up (as granny used to say) if I went down that governmental intrusiveness road, so I’ll take a different tack.

    I had a dear friend in the Texas Hill Country who loved his chicken-fried steak, mashed taters and real cream gravy. It always was accompanied by green beans cooked with a slab of bacon, and cobbler for dessert with either whipped or ice cream.

    His doctor gave him the lecture every visit until one day the old man said, “Listen, Doc. I’m 85 years old. I eat what I eat. If you’re telling me I’m taking an hour off my life with every chicken-fried I consume, I can do the math. I can eat two chicken-fried steaks a week for a good long time before I take a single week off my life, and I intend to do it. So save your breath.”

    When Si died at 90-whatever, he had a couple of regrets, but those meals weren’t among them.

    As a side note – Si spent his life setting type and repairing printing presses all along the Gulf Coast, from Mississippi down through Texas. He loved newspapers and printing. He said once he always was faithful to his wife and only got tempted once, when some gal came by wearing a perfume that smelled something like ink. 😉

    • charlespaolino Says:

      Si is my new hero. Thanks for introducing us. 🙂

    • shiftynj Says:

      I knew a guy like Si, too. Al was in his late 80s when I met him and smoked unfiltered cigarettes, drank and ate what he liked. He also single-handedly cleared all the trails in the Newark Watershed every spring for the Boy Scouts, and strode up a 45-degree hill like Sherman taking Savannah while people half his age huffed along behind. He, too, has left us but nobody could claim that he spent his last years sitting around waiting to die.

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