Free lunches were promised by Act on Campus this week in conjunction with KFC’s release of the “Double Down”. The thing appears to be a burger in which the bread has been replaced with fried chicken, the gap filled with bacon and the whole calorific horror stuck together with two kinds of cheese. Act on Campus is giving these away in the name of freedom, choice, and individual responsibility - although, if they were being honest, it’s more freedom than responsibility.
It’s a sad indicator of what the world has come to. Chemistry sets with no chemicals - “discover the wonders of salt - it dissolves!” - and where hot drinks are plastered with labels warning that they’re hot. We’re only supposed to eat food that the busy-bodies have tagged with their “tick of approval”. (And, in another sign of what the world has come to, that tick means not much more than, “We gave the Heart Foundation $10,000.”)We live in a world where university students show off their brash irresponsibility by eating a Chicken Kiev.
The promotion is undoubtedly designed to provoke Sue Kedgley into saying something bossy thus providing both parties with free publicity. It’s called “social media” and it’s at least 2,000 years old. If you’re running a film festival you always need to include a lesbian revenge flick so that the local churches will vigorously advertise the event.
If the do-gooders do rise to the bait, my advice is to ignore them completely if they prattle on about KFC causing the obesity epidemic. The last time I had KFC - thankfully many years ago - it was more like a rapid weight-loss program.
The Act on Campus link makes me wonder if this is the secret to Rodney Hide’s miracle weight loss. Rather than go down the Donna Awatere-Huata route of stealing money to pay for a stomach stapling operation, fried chicken could have been just the miracle ticket. He could have a nice little post-coup career as the Jared of KFC, showing off his enormous fat pants and extolling the dietary virtues of chicken drumsticks, undercooked by a careless teenagers.
Robyn Toomath and other fishwives of the health industry industry insist that food like the Double Down is killing people and should be banned or taxed into oblivion. Much like cigarettes, one of these burgers alone won’t kill you but forty a day for four decades probably would. But does that mean they should be banned?
If the thing was an instant health risk - say, hypothetically, it was prepared by hungover youths and therefore full of Campylobacter - then it should be illegal to sell as food. But if it gradually clogs your arteries and causes heart disease or clogs your liver and causes metabolic syndrome over forty years, then no. We all know this stuff is bad for you and decide accordingly. Economists call this “time preference”. We trade pleasure now for a risk of increased mortality later. (Pleasure here is a subjective thing. If I’m going to destroy my internal organs I’d prefer to do it with pinot noir and scotch rather than some polymer masquerading as cheese.)
It’s good to see someone facing the healthists with a wicked grin. Far better than McDonald’s salad-flavoured appeasement. I just wish it wasn’t KFC because their offerings repulse me.
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Not one that you’d want anyway.
DISCLOSURE: Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column was written after imbibitions of pinto noir and scotch. And a kebab.