Ultimate Junk Food — the Usual Suspects


The Ultimate Junk Food” is quite an engaging phrase. Inevitably, many of the entities who use it are selling product, and we are going to look at some of the language they use. These are merchants who offer junk food gift baskets, hampers, and buckets; in regular, deluxe or premium styles; optionally enhanced with a balloon or teddy bear.

A standard feature of their advertising is a very attractive picture of several items, ranging from cookies to crunchies to candy, to a knockoff of the discontinued and sadly missed name-brand cupcakes with the squiggle on top. “But,” you may ask, “can I also get a junk food gift basket that is all cookies, or all seasoned pork rinds?” Of course! You can spend up to $87.95 or, if you have particular tastes and want a custom-tailored basket, any amount, really.

In an attempt to impress potential customers, one of these outfits even has the nerve to use an overworked cliche and declare that a little junk food is just what the doctor ordered. Although for decades people have been saying, “It’s just what the doctor ordered,” it has been, more often than not, in the context of a facetious or ironic remark. Unfortunately, some people might not understand that the promotional copywriting experts are speaking tongue-in-cheek, and should not be taken literally.

One company includes the caveat, “Please note that the assortment of snacks may vary.” That depends, of course, on which snack the company can most thriftily get hold of by the truckload. It’s only good business, after all.

The junk food pantheon

When the topic veers around to single dishes that claim the Ultimate Junk Food title, the hamburger deep-fried in a coating of french fries got lots of buzz in the recent past. Of course, anything can be deep-fried — Oreos, candy bars, Spam, ice cream, cheesecake, chicken wings (with, of course, a variety of sauces), and even soda pop (which, in one variation, comes out looking like bacon.) Even apples, bananas, strawberries, watermelon, and other lovely fruits can be instantly turned into junk food by the mere act of deep-frying.

Other strong contenders are doughnuts, pizza, mozzarella sticks, nachos, and MacNCheetos (for which we have Burger King to thank). And, of course, chocolate and the whole universe of sweet snacks. Not surprisingly, Pinterest has an Ultimate Junk Food category, with entries too numerous to mention. Reddit’s “What’s your ultimate junk food?” page lists only a few replies, including Cheetos, Rice Krispy Treats, peanut-butter-filled pretzels, Nutella, Doritos, chips and bean dip, marshmallow strawberries, and nonpareils.

Days of our tragically shortened lives

In a handy guide titled “How to Celebrate National Junk Food Day,” the first suggestion is a no-brainer: The celebrant should consume her or his favorite junk food. The #2 advises sharing pictures of that concoction via social media, and remember to use the hashtag #NationalJunkFoodDay. Now for the culmination of corporate wisdom: Throw a junk food party.

The only thing that’s better than getting to eat junk food is getting to eat it with your friends. Invite some friends over for a junk food potluck party. No green leafy foods allowed, just everyone’s favorite cheesy, fatty, carby foods.

CandyStore.com jumps on the #NationalJunkFoodDay bandwagon by nominating the 10 worst candies: Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups, Classic M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, Peanut Butter M&Ms, Fun Size 100 Grand Candy Bars, Mike and Ike, Starburst, and Twizzlers.

Allegedly, eating one FunSize Butterfinger every day for a year can add 10 pounds to the already-bloated physique. But the clear winner is Hershey’s Take 5 bar, whose attributes are listed here:

These candy bars are made of chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, caramel, and peanuts in addition to tons of oils, flavoring agents, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup.

Just in case anyone was wondering, we also suffer from National Hamburger Day, National Mint Julep Day, National Cheese Day, National Mac and Cheese Day, National Cheesecake Day, and doubtless a thousand more.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Ultimate Junk Food Basket,” FromyOuFlowers.com
Source: “6 ways to celebrate National Junk Food Day in Austin,” Austin360.com, 07/23/15
Source: “What’s your ultimate junk food?,” Reddit.com
Source: “National Junk Food Day — July 21,” NationalToday.com
Source: “It’s National Junk Food Day! Indulge with the 10 Worst Candies,” CandyStore.com
Photo credit: Papatia USA on Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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