Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Valleydale

Down in Valleydale, land of jolly, jolly pigs, life is one grand party! The pigs perform for us, tootling and swinging. Their merriment, their cheerful industry, their indomitable spirit—all are on full display. They sing, they wiggle, they strive with well rehearsed precision to erect a towering edifice proclaiming the Power and Goodness of Valleydale!

Vintage television commercials bring the golden past to life, to remind us of Valleydale's glorious beginnings. Pigs tout the wonders of bologna and the iconic Honee Weenee. Their presence is a balm to nerves frayed by the hurry-up world we all inhabit. Everything will be all right, the pigs say to the people of the Southlands. Just keep shoveling it in.

As the Valleydale all-pig marching band takes to the streets to pour their Valleydale luv all over us, they sing rapturously!

The music goes zoom zoom!
The drummer goes boom boom!
And everybody shouts, "Hurray for Valleydale!"

Hurray for Valleydale!
Hurray for Valleydale!
Hurray for Valleydale!
All hail, it's Valleydale!

Valleydale sausage!
Valleydale wieners!
Valleydale bacon!
Zing zing zing zing Valleydale!



Says the Valleydale web site: "[T]hese lovable characters created happy, long-lasting memories and captured the hearts of a generation of viewers from the earliest days of television. Even today, folks who have not been exposed to the commercials in 40 years or more can still sing the Valleydale jingle and describe the characters."






Still, for drama, for pathos and the shameless manufacture of pity, nothing bests the nonmusical "Butcher" ad. In it, a hurried customer demands of the porcine butcher, "Gimme some bacon and sausage—any kind." (Granted, we're off to a contrived start.) The butcher then responds with incredulity and indignation. Any kind of bacon? Any kind?! After chastising the customer for his culinary incorrectness, the butcher goes soft. Overwhelmed by humility, he all but begs: "Valleydale sausage and bacon! Try to remember. Won't you?"

Yes, we are asked to swallow the notion that this pig would care, that he would be perplexed and insulted were someone to choose to eat the wrong pork products. We are walking down a familiar path, to be sure, but that renders the forest no less haunted.

An often overlooked aspect of suicide food is its total lack of exigency. Think about it: do the purveyors of dead animals face a shortage of customers? Imagine Virginia and Kentucky back in the heyday of Valleydale's charming commercials. Were the simple folk of those stalwart commonwealths on the verge of throwing in with the vegans and abandoning their carnivory? Of course not. One might suppose that the only required elements of any successful advertising campaign were the pounding-in of the company's name—and this is accomplished in the Valleydale spots with all the subtlety of raining hammer blows—and footage of the purportedly mouth-watering food.

Strange then that Valleydale spends so little airtime on offering its viewers even a glimpse of the products in question. Instead, the entire enterprise revolves around redundant assurances that meat-eating is "natural," "normal," and “necessary.” Something that the audience would have taken to be self-evident if it were put to them in plain terms. And yet this nonsense is the very foundation of suicide food: the attempt to convince people of what they are presumed to believe already. Again and again, they are told, "Your habits are not objectionable in the least. Look! The only ones who might have a counterclaim are lining up on your side! Carry on!" But since when have people needed incentive not to question their own assumptions? That mental inertia is all but bred into the human condition.

The adherents of suicidefoodism are willing to take no chances. Thus, Valleydale's marching band, its Dixieland combo, its construction workers, and the rest.

(Thanks to Dr. Bob for the referral.)






Addendum (1/01/08): We have just learned that one can purchase plush representations of Valleydale's obsessive pigs. We have not learned why one would wish to.

6 comments:

SamFromUtah said...

That's pretty twisty - now all we need is an animated version of this guy.

Anne Arky said...

I found your site because I was discussing the Valleydale commercials of olde and trying to remember the lyrics after "HooRAY for Valleydale". Thanks -- this was a trip down memory lane. I don't remember being all that crazed for the product, but when I was a child, I just loved the hell out of the commercials!

Anonymous said...

These commercials have been stuck in my head for years, and I finally found them online so I could show them to my kids. They still hold it against me. Enjoy them here: http://www.valleydale.com/company/archive.html

Luscious Lars Anderson said...

Damn, Dude! Ya'll got me straight trippin'!

stantoro said...

The rhetorical dilemma you outline has possessed my mind and deprived me of sleep. Who do I blame - the "taking no chances" redundant suicidefoodists, or the blogger who pointed it out???

Ben said...

Not your humble blogger, that's for sure.