Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chickin' Pickin'

It's an allegory.

With pop-eyed abandon, the chicken pursues his own mortality.

The headless, skinless, footless chicken corpse scampers gaily ahead, leading the poor living bird further into the realm of delusion. You can almost feel how carefree the innocent cadaver is, with what solemn mischief it tempts the living.

Looking on from the stage, their role obscure, a pig and a steer.

Are they the judges of this macabre ceremony, this wretched game? Are they timekeepers of some kind, the sport's sacred adjutants? Are they waiting for their turn in the arena, their chance to confront their own imminent deaths?

No, we're not sure why we're trying so hard to make this rational either.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fighting Cock Kentucky Bourbon Brand Barbecue Sauce

Over the years, the animals have granted us a taste of many flavors of madness. Their deathwishes are as varied as all creation. For many animals, of course, the urge to die is primal and ineffable. It just is. As real, as fundamental as a genome, the drive to succumb to oblivion's gentle caress is inherent in the very act of being an animal.

The lesser-known imperative, second only to this basic impetus, is to serve. Oh, we have seen the many forms this service has taken: To please, to pay tribute, to titillate, to secure for oneself the blessings of humans' crumbs, of their attention, of their favor.

We've even seen animals sacrifice themselves to improve the sex lives of their (barely) betters.

But with this Fighting Cock Kentucky Bourbon Brand Barbecue Sauce, we discover a whole new reason to die!

"C'mon," the bottle commands, "singe a few tailfeathers... unless you'd rather stay in the henhouse."

The animals are lining up before the blade so that you can prove your manhood, an opportunity that concerns them greatly. If they can't be eaten by the manly, they'd just as soon—shudder—go on living.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Al Baik

It is with equal parts excitement and nausea that we discover, again, that the animals' death-drive is universal. Wherever we look, to the New World, the Old, to Asia, we see animals who want nothing more than to be dead. And now, with al Baik, it is clear that the Great Wish extends even into the Arabian Peninsula.

The 37-year-old franchise's 40-plus outlets and its 18 secret herbs and spices are capably represented by a dapper chicken with a giant bow tie and a dracular collar.

It's "nice" knowing that some things—for instance, nattily attired animals contentedly awaiting death—are the same wherever you go. It's like we've always said: Suicidal animals are the universal language.

Addendum: While we know it doesn't really, we choose to believe that al Baik means The Beak.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vintage Thanksgiving Day Roast Turkey

You there! Am I to understand you feel yourself qualified to dine upon my roasted flesh? Pardon me, but it is to laugh!

Have you failed to take note of my breeding, my station? My top hat is cocked at a superior angle. My cape hangs off my shoulderless frame in such a way as to convey the pride of my lineage. My walking stick—purchased from the finest bird haberdasher on the eastern seaboard—is worth more than your great aunt Myrtle's trousseau.

That you should partake of me. Why, it strains propriety.

I shall wander these forlorn streets in search of the man who deserves this bounty. Today is my day, and I will have satisfaction.

Until then, good day!

(Thanks to Dr. Bea for the referral. You should know the good doctor has a knack for digging up turkey-themed horrors. "Enjoy" these posts about Spammy, Manny's, and the Turkey Hooker.)

Addendum: Visit with the ghosts of Thanksgivings past: 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Animals Aren't Even Things: a digression

We've discussed the Doctrine of Inanimacy several times. It holds that animals, being mere objects, are beneath our moral consideration. Contrary to everything you have witnessed yourself, animals don't think or feel. Hell, they don't really do anything.

Of course, the bizarre part is how this concept—animals' status as nothing more than matter—so often nestles alongside suicidefoodism's foundational principle. Namely, that animals are so like us, with dreams and desires that resonate so strongly in us because they so closely mirror our own. They want to belong, to amount to something, to receive approval.

It's the central paradox of the Movement: that which should serve to create psychological distance actually inspires intimacy, and that intimacy inspires contempt. Look, it's a giant, steaming stew of contradictory impulses, and trying to understand it will only give you wrinkles.

Our point here isn't to understand. Instead, we'd like to look at something that denies even the Doctrine of Inanimacy, something that says individual animals aren't even things, something that would have actual animals vanish into sheer abstraction.

This photo is from the October 31, 2011 edition of The New York Times. It accompanied a story in The New York Times Magazine about a "farmer" hoping to do something or other with fancy meat.


Before you go any farther, take a look at the thing under the man's arm. If you're like us, you might have thought that object was a piglet.

You would have been wrong. The caption explains the true nature of the photo:

"Brock with one of his heritage breeds—the start of a grand culinary reclamation project."

And just like that—poof!—the pig has been rendered invisible. For the man isn't holding an individual animal, or even a physical thing! He is holding a breed, and not even one that occupies its own place in the natural order. No, it's one of the man's breeds! The pig can't even claim its own lineage, its own existence. It's as though chattel was too good for the pigs, and they had to be reduced to airy concepts.

Deny if you will that pigs are intelligent and you are uninformed. Deny if you will that pigs are sentient and you are blind. But deny that they are physical things and you are a madman.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

BBQ Trophies

You are looking at a bunch of true believers. This Unholy Trinity has fully embraced their status as food. They have totemized themselves, solidifying their very objectness.

The point is that these animals have so thoroughly assimilated the very concept of their own worthlessness that they can appear—excited, eager, with fond wishes for a future constituting more of the same—as living embodiments of others' desires to eat them.

They do not merely offer their blessings on an endeavor dedicated to their destruction; they ratify the worldview and priorities of their destroyers. And so the cow represents herself as beef and the pig as ribs. They are just (temporarily) living stuff.

It is a curious phenomenon, this use of the animals' agency to reaffirm their lack of agency. Curious, but altogether commonplace.

Then again, it should hardly surprise us when animals this warped fail to appreciate the difference between prize-winner and prize.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Henderson Chicken

From where does the Henderson Chicken chicken derive his sense of identity and purpose? It's not a trick question. In fact, the answer is the same one we've found approximately seventy-seven jillion times: The bird has placed all his (?) eggs in the basket labeled "I am edible."

Oh, the chest-swelling pride!

He suppresses a satisfied tear when he remembers the legend rippling beneath him: Once you've tasted our chicken, you'll want more!

You know—you just know—when he first saw that motto he called everyone he knew and gushed. "Our chicken! They called me their chicken! They really love me!" That's right. Someone finally believes in him. For an insecure chicken, that means the world. Something has plucked him from the obscurity of his fellows, his indistinguishable coopmates. He is a chicken of distinction.

Oh, and he might be saluting, too. But don't hold us to that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cohoctah Cook'n

It's the wistful side of suicide food. This pig's heart is about to burst. Look at his eyes. You can practically feel the pain in those big, heavy-lidded eyes. He wants so much. The yearning is written all over his face. His ears hang down, symbolic of his downcast soul. He suppresses a tear. When he's alone, those tears will flow. His sorrow will emerge, tentatively, so afraid is the pig of the mockery he has come to regard as his due.

To be put to work, managing the grill, while his dreams are elsewhere. Not far away, no, but elsewhere. 

Stuck behind the scenes, as it were, tending to the actors, he longs to be on the stage. It should be him crisping above the coals! It should be him sizzling, as his cooking flesh exudes its precious freight of fat! It should be him filling the skies with his smoke!

But they've got him standing behind a board (?), his "hands" alongside his, um, pointy fingernails—look, we're not clear on his anatomy at all—so he can watch. So he can eat his heart out.

But if he wants to be near, to have one foot in that glorious world of dead pigs, this is where he needs to be. Bitter as it is, this is the choice he must make. And always, in the shadowed cell of his mind, the thought resounds: Maybe one day....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Red'z Ribs

All we know is that Red looks a little—just a little—evil.

It's those leering, threatening eyes. And that iron grin. His cheeks heavy with menace. From his haughty height, he looks down on you.

Like another apostrophe-z fellow we know, Red is certainly full of attitude. We're not sure exactly how we'd characterize that attitude, but there's something of the bully about him. He's daring you to eat him and his ribs.

With that red vest straining against his girth, he taunts and tests. Do you have what it takes? Will you accept his challenge?

He's going to see you eat him if it's the last thing he does. Which is a convenient arrangement.

Friday, November 11, 2011


She's got thighs—has she ever!—and she's got pies. Put them together, and she's got thighs-n-pies. While this image scores high on the Truth in Advertising Meter, it does raise a vexing issue.

Namely, does this lipsticked chicken in Daisy Dukes have pies in the same way she has thighs?

We think not. The pie is an item she holds aloft. When she shows it off to you, she's inviting you to select it from the menu. But when she struts and shows off those long legs, she's inviting you to select it from her body.

When you tell your server you'd like the Smoked Chicken Thighs (Hot, BBQ, or Mild), the chicken steps out back for a rendezvous with the cleaver. Which, apparently, is what's in it for her.

Addendum: When it comes to Pies 'n Thighs, a similarly named establishment, it's the pies that receive top billing. And among the wide assortment of pre-dead animals clamoring for you attention, there is, surprisingly, no leggy chicken hoping to catch you eye.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener: a digression

For more than 45 years, a suicidefoodist earworm has been wriggling across the airways of the world. It involves stuff made from "food" animals, but the targets of its warped philosophy are... children. Human children. So enshrined in our collective unconscious is this message that it belongs with the Suicide Food Emeriti we honored in May of 2007.

What helps it rise above the dregs of advertising's sump is the flagrant insanity of its premise:

Beyond animals wishing to die so that they may find meaning in being eaten, this is children wishing—and lofting their wishes to a mindless pantheon—to be dead animals so that they may find meaning in being eaten. These kids, they've mastered the subjunctive mood (all that "I wish I were" stuff), but the basics of self-preservation and self-respect elude them.
"Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I'd truly like to be!
'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with me!"
So hungry are they for acknowledgment from a society blind to their existence that they would be transformed into animals, butchered, extruded into mildly seasoned meat products, grilled, and placed on buns. If that's what it takes to receive love at last, they'll do it!

In the classic commercial from 1965, one demented boy refuses to go along with the crowd of would-be martyrs. He has no wish to die, but he is soon bullied back into the fold.

Addendum: We assume you can find examples of this death march on your own. But how about a short video on the making of the jingle?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Le Vrai Menage

Hanging on like grim death to his cylindrical totem of cured meat, the pig ponders the meaning of his life. He quickly realizes—it's as plain as the meat in his loins, really—that without the promise of death, his life holds no meaning whatever.

The salami-sausage thing (why demean it with anything as puny as a label?) is the pig's life preserver. It is his flesh apart from his own flesh. The meat is sans rival. Nothing is better.

Nothing buoys him more surely on his journey along life's brackish course, and nothing promises to deliver him more quickly into the ocean of death.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lord of the Ribs

At first we weren't sure whether Tolkien's timeless epic translated well to the world of barbecue. We knew the chicken was Gandalf, the cow was cast as a man of the Second Age (Elendil, presumably), and the pig was some Second Age elf (Elrond or Gil-galad, we assumed), but it all felt contrived. Not as contrived as other barbecue-related stretches we've encountered, to be sure, but where were they going with this? If the One True Rib promised to enslave the free peoples of Middle Earth, then our protagonists want to destroy it? And that's going to sell pig meat?

Then we realized we were looking at it all wrong. We were seeing the details but missing the big picture. For what is J. R. R.'s tale about? Beyond the comings and goings of bearded weirdos and a bunch of business about a giant, evil eyeball, it's a story about brotherhood and sacrifice. Brotherhood and sacrifice? That's the hallmark of modern "food" animals!

It all made sense! Who knows more about sacrifice and selflessness than cows, pigs, and chickens? Who is better suited to hit the battlefield of Dagorlad—also known as the backyard barbecues of North America—and offer themselves up for their friends? In this respect, all the animals are Sam Gamgees, bearing all our burdens, long-suffering, never questioning our motives or intentions.

Epilogue: Five minutes later it stopped making sense again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Absolutely BBQ

Don't be distracted by the wild-eyed cowboy with the tongs and the flags. (What's he up to with his French and UK flags? Full disclosure: We don't care.)

The real story, as always, is the pig. The pig with the smile, the inviting eyes, and the spit rammed the length of its body. Whatever goes on around it, no matter the cultural significance of the celebration of which he is the centerpiece, the pig has simple needs easily met: hot steel, hot coals, and a hot old time. If only we all had such humble requirements! If only life were so accommodating to us as it is to pigs. It's almost as if the entirety of existence—the very Way of Things—were set in order specifically with the needs of pigs in mind.

And we thought we occupied the center of the world's turning! It's the pigs! It's all for them! Don't envy them their satisfaction. One day we'll all be just as dead.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Colby's Pig Roast Catering Inc

After years of clambering after the cutting edge, this pig has finally found it.

The little round sunglasses, bought in a spasm of self-consciousness, didn't do it.

The supposedly slimming black tee didn't do it.

The striving and struggling, showing up early and leaving late, didn't do it.

The tirelessly positive attitude didn't it.

No, all it took was deliberately lowering himself into the flames, there to be crisped and cooked. In other words, he became his truest self when he finally surrendered the very idea of his own identity. That's when he finally mattered. When he finally became cool.