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Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, July 28, 2003  

M. Giant, Hungry Man

I joined a new demographic last night, but it’s only on a trial basis.

I am a provisional Hungry Man™.

I don’t know if these “meals” are available everywhere, so I’ll explain what I’m talking about. A Hungry Man™ dinner is like a frozen TV dinner big enough to feed three people. Unless one of those people is a Hungry Man. Capitalized like that, it kind of looks like I’m talking about a superhero. And when I was holding a frozen box the size of a plasma TV and thinking about one person putting away that much food in one sitting, the word “superhero” seemed even more apt.

I haven’t actually eaten one of them yet. Or tried to. The only reason I have them is because there was a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for them in the newspaper, so I figured I’d be getting a bargain even if I could only choke down half of each one. I may well have to skip a few meals in advance just to accomplish that goal.

Maybe you’ve seen the TV commercials for Hungry Man™. They tend to feature these stocky, salt-of-the-earth guys who skipped a meal—or worse yet, ate a salad—and now they’re subject to being blown away by a stiff breeze. Literally. As if dipping below 275 pounds for a few minutes is going to make gravity turn her back on you forever. She’s a temperamental one, that gravity, and if you dare take her for granted she’ll forget your name.

Now that I have a couple of these Hungry Man™ meals (would the plural be “Hungry Men” or “Hungry Mans?” Never mind; I’m not using either one) in my own freezer, I’m giving a little more thought to the idea that these are meals that are manufactured and marketed to people who want to feel like there are sacks of BBs in their guts. There’s a slogan for you—“Hungry Man™: it’s not just food, it’s ballast.”

Now there’s some kind of marketing tie-in to CBS’s sitcom The King of Queens. I have no idea what the details are; I barely took the time to glance at the boxes before I had the forklift operator lower them into a separate grocery cart. All I know is that barrel-chested comedian Kevin James was grinning out at me as if the photographer was waving the Hungry Man™ Two Meatball Sandwiches meal next to the camera.

Yes, I said two meatball sandwiches. These people do not fool around.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not a marketing tie-in at all. There’s been a lot of discussion about putting more graphic warning labels on cigarettes. I think they’ve even done it in some countries. There are places where you can’t buy a pack of smokes without seeing charred lungs or stunted fetuses or tracheas that look like they were used to clean the grill (I understand that cigarette cases have become quite popular in these areas). Meanwhile, quietly and without controversy, the picture on the packaging of a Hungry Man™? Kevin James. It’s like they’re hoping to forestall eventual legislation that will require them to depict Marlon Brando.

Listen, I don’t begrudge anybody the right to a hearty meal. That guy in the Hungry Man™ commercial who’s working through a stormy night pitching sandbags to keep the river between its banks? That guy is going to work up an appetite, and when he asks me for steak I’ll ask him how many he wants. Even Kevin James plays a character who schleps parcels for a living. Myself, I sit at a desk all day, and the only physical exertion required of me is the thirty-foot walk to the break room to nuke my lunch. Three ounces of Pasta with Chicken Specks in a six-ounce Lean Cuisine™ tray won’t quite cut it for the day, but if I get in the daily habit of lunching on a microwaved banquet consisting of an entire pig with a side of beef (and I don’t mean a side order of beef, just so we’re clear), it won’t be long before I’ll be looking at Kevin James and envying the man’s athletic physique.

Not that I’ll necessarily have the option. The days of the Hungry-Man™ may be numbered. Kraft has already begun shrinking the portions in some of their packaging, out of concern for the health of people who aren’t clear on the difference between the terms “Family-size” and “Mine.” And also to avoid getting spanked in court the way the tobacco companies did. It’s not inconceivable that Swanson might soon follow suit with its Hungry Man™ products, forcing Hungry Men everywhere to buy their meatball sandwiches separately instead of in pairs. We have to enjoy our frozen-buffets-for-one while we still have the chance.

Go ahead. Have a Hungry Man™. Necks are for pussies.

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Want to appreciate Bob Hope? The best obituary I've seen was written three years ago. No, it wasn't a mistake. Check it out.

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Today’s best(?) search phrase: “gag scarf hostage.” Um, do you think I should call someone?

posted by M. Giant 3:19 PM 0 comments


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