Save the Nugget

Bob Leggitt | Wednesday, 1 June 2011 |

During my childhood, the typical parent in our locality wanted to ban the bomb. There always seemed an inherent logic in that. It made perfect sense. Ban the bomb – save the world. What cause could be more worthy? Well, if current thinking is anything to go by, there is a far greater evil. Bombs, indeed, are no longer even on the average parent’s radar when it comes to prohibition. No, in this bright new world of ours, it is far more important that humanity unites as one to ban the infinitely more dangerous (and I hardly dare even type this)… chicken nugget.

Sadly, the chicken nugget is not alone in terrorising the core of good society with its chickeny taste and crispy coating. And I’m going to apologise in advance here, because I’m about to use a number of words which may upset and offend people. Here’s the first: CHEESEBURGER. And how about this one: DONUT. Still not quite overwhelmed with disgust?… Okay, I’m limited in the number of times I can say this, but if you really think you can take the big one: FAST FOOD!...

I do almost feel as if I’m swearing, but I don’t really know why. Maybe if I acted like a responsible member of society, spent half my life eating seaweed, and the rest of it on the toilet wondering why I’d got diarrhoea, I could comprehend how deeply offensive the contents of a fast food menu truly are. As things stand, however, I don’t, so I can’t. So I think it's now time I got seriously controversial, and posed a question which has been on the tip of my tongue for a very long time…


Ah, that feels so much better… Okay, so in my opinion, this "ban fast food" lunacy began when some bored serial-bellyacher, with nothing better to do, decided to complain about the 1986 McDonald’s Nutritional Guide.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with that guide. It was a factual, straight-talking and entirely unbiased dissertation on the real value of McDonald’s food. Okay, so the bit about the milkshakes containing calcium and consequently being good for your teeth might have slightly overlooked the fact that each one also contained about eight bags of sugar, but no one was moaning about that. It was the calorific values that seemed to be upsetting Mr “I’m Not One To Complain, But…”, and the journalists weren't far behind him.

What is wrong with high calorie food? Surely the more calories you pack into a meal, the better the value. I’ll make no secret of the fact that I love fast food restaurants. If they can build a burger that costs less than two quid and basically contains half a cow and an entire pig’s chest then they’re to be commended, aren’t they? Clearly if you eat thirty of them in a day you’re going to die, but the point is, no one’s saying “Eat thirty in a day”.

Ronald McDonald, to my knowledge, has never made one commercial in which he sits down at a table, shouts “Hey kids, do like I do!”, and then eats thirty Big Macs and about seven hundred chicken nuggets. And yet that’s exactly what journalists began doing after 1986…

“Oh God, this is awful: I’ve eaten ninety donuts in a day and now I can hardly walk!”…

Of course you can hardly bloody walk! Why would anyone think they were supposed to eat ninety donuts in a day? Why would you assume you’d be able to walk after eating ninety donuts? Just eat one! Is that really such a revolutionary concept?

Watch any pre-1986 TV food campaign and you’ll see large blobs of potato dripping with butter, and a nice, healthy family squabbling over the bacon fat. Mom’s like the side of a house, the kids are even bigger, and Dad’s in the initial stages of heart failure, but he’ll still get through his steaming mountain of fat-saturated, pastry-coated processed pig. Cooked in lard and so breathtakingly collossal it won’t all fit on the screen in one go, Dad’s dinner is what makes him a man, and his wife a woman (all ads stereotyped the sexes back then – so at least some things have slightly improved). He won’t be filing for divorce – that’s for sure. Not as long as there’s an 8lb slab of shepherd’s pie and a separate plate of chips under his nose. Post-1986, however, the nation slowly descended into the nutritional insanity many of us now accept as normal.

As the marketing got better, the food got smaller and the prices higher. Today, your average citizen has a choice: they can either eat a thimble full of yoghurt that costs more than a jumbo cheeseburger, or they can eat a jumbo cheeseburger that costs less than a thimble full of yoghurt. Such is the extent of the brainwashing society has endured, not only are people choosing the yoghurt – they’re actually trying to ban the cheeseburger.

In conclusion, I respect anyone whose daily diet must consist solely of one zero-fat ready meal on a bed of cress, a spoonful of raisins, nine buckets of filtered water and a packet of laxatives. Well, I mean, I don’t respect them – I think they’re a loony, obviously, but you know what I'm saying. They have a right to do that if they wish. I will never try to ban your raisins, filtered water and laxatives. Please don’t try to ban my chicken nuggets. Live and let live.