by Scarlet Pumpernickel
When I first went to a 5 Guys many years ago, I was disappointed that they didn’t have the option for a double cheeseburger on their menu. Little did I realize that the double patty burger is the default at 5 Guys. I was delighted: finally, a place that realizes a fast food burger is vastly improved by doubling up on the meat and which relegates the single patty burgers to the kid’s menu. Now, a few years on, eating at 5 Guys my perspective has changed - not on the double patty issue, I still believe a two patty fast food burger is just better, but on what the acceptance of the double burger really means.
While we were there, I mentioned to Beau the fact that the Big Mac was called the Big Mac because when it was introduced, it was big. The “standard” burger from 5 Guys was somewhat larger than a Big Mac, which is just not that big anymore. Over the decades, the perception of how large a normal meal should be has steadily increased. When I said it, it was just idle speculation on my part, but I started to wonder: what if it was true? What if we really have a different perception of meal size than earlier generations did?
I was shocked to read an article the other day that shows that were are eating more than we used to. Actually, the fact that we are eating more is just a minor point in the article on the way to explaining why America is so fat. The Department of Agriculture keeps track of how much food is consumed in the US (from which we can figure out per capita calorie consumption), and this per capita calorie consumption has steadily increased over the past 30 years. The study indicates that Americans are not obese because we don’t exercise, it’s that we eat too damn much.
So the solution is to eat less. It seems simple, but it isn’t. It isn’t because I know that a two patty fast food burger is more delicious than a one-patty fast food burger. It would be like someone trying to use their BlackBerry as just a phone and not checking it every thirty seconds to see who emailed/texted/IMed them. We all know that on some abstract metaphysical level it would be better, but we simply can’t help ourselves. The only realistic thing I’ve seen BlackBerry users do when they actually want to get away from all the interruptions is leave the thing at home. Technology has become such a burden that we need to take a vacation from it.
Perhaps what we must do with our food is to take a vacation from the excess. It is certainly possible to do - plan out a week of healthy, satisfying meals. Really, the funny part is that we aren’t taking a vacation to a world of culinary excess, but from it, because we live in the world of excess. Then again, when I eat a 5 Guys cheeseburger and an order of the hand cut fries, I know deep down that it’s home.