The most recent installment in our Festival of Cruelty series wasn't that long ago, and we won't be due for the next scheduled episode for another six weeks or so. But we can't sit on this any longer. We have been seeking images of the (Northampton, Massachusetts) Packard's menu for months and we finally have them.
From the moment we first glimpsed the menu, a year and a half ago, the memory has haunted us. And seeing these images again reminds us of how we became obsessed.
Like other exhibits from the ongoing Festival of Cruelty, these showcase a raw meanness, an iconoclastic blatancy. To go out of your way to demonize and brutalize the animals who became your food, to treat them as utterly undeserving of any but the harshest treatment… Well, it's practically thrilling. Because it's entirely unnecessary—the animals are dead, the food they were made into is in the ovens even now—it has the power to grab us by the throat and insist that we take note.
And take note we did!
We saw the chicken immobilized in a contraption straight out of a supervillain's daydream, its wings about to be buzz-sawed off, to land in baskets filled with the limbs of previous victims. The chicken, paralyzed in mute horror, holds up a sign reading "Why?!" As any "food" animal should know, the answer is, "Because they can."
Below the de-winger is a scene of true depravity: amid the stink of rotting carcasses, beloved figures from our collective childhood huddle outside a Bates Hotel for unsuspecting animals, their legs and wings amputated, their stumps bleeding through the bandages. (It's the in-your-face flipside of this old post.) We've seen "food" animal amputations before (here, for instance, and here), but it's presented by Packard's with such stinging spite that it seems brand-new. Sesame Street's Count Von Count mocks Big Bird's phantom limbs. And do you see the posters on the brick wall? Packard's wants Foghorn Leghorn and Baby Huey so they can hack them apart too!
Animals on crutches, animals pushing themselves around in wheeled boxes, animals slowly dying. On a menu? At a place where you're going to eat? On purpose?
We want you to see the other Packard's menu art. (Click the images to see them bigger.) Like the tableau above, they're positively brimming with an unstinting hatred for animals.