It’s Bad For Ya’. Isn’t it?

We all know what’s bad for us, don’t we? Unfortunately, knowing what we should avoid doesn’t make it any easier to eat right.

The late George Carlin had a routine titled, “It’s bad for ya.” Part of his schtick was to poke fun at “health nuts.” “They tell me I’m gonna die. Well, let me tell them something. They’re gonna die, too. We’re all gonna die.” George died as predicted. Sadly, he was “only” 71, but maybe he had a point. Scientists know what we need to do to live longer. Trouble is, if we did it, life wouldn’t be worth living.

The traditional American diet is a notorious killer. It began getting its bad rap when forensic investigators made the connection between cholesterol and heart disease. Soon, everything that used to be good for ya’ became bad for ya’. Eggs, butter, cream, whole fats, heck, any fats, sugar, salt, red meat. All that yummy stuff. Once the food police began rounding them up, many were sentenced to life without parole in food prison. Face it. Many of them are guilty as charged and will never see the inside of a stomach again. But occasionally, when new evidence comes to light, one of them gets a reprieve. Coffee got framed on the bum rap that it was a carcinogen. But it got sprung from the joint early for good behavior when they later decided it prevents cancer as well as Parkinson’s and dementia. Eggs are sort of on probation. They’re good for ya’ as long as they are constantly supervised.

Foods are said to be addictive, and locking away the “bad” foods can sometimes have the same effect as convicting drug lords. New entrepreneurs move in on their territory selling more dangerous drugs. For example, it turns out the low fat versions of junk food people got into when fats were rounded up indiscriminately, healthy ones as well as unhealthy ones, turn out to cause obesity and diabetes. The extra sugar needed to make them semi-palatable was worse for you than the fats they replaced. We now know many fats are not only innocent, they’re working undercover for the good guys. They said butter would never beat its murder one rap, but now it’s serving reduced time for manslaughter. Turns out some of the margarines that took over it’s territory are peddling saturated vegetable fats that are even more deadly.

Confused? Me too. Maybe all the confusion has an upside. It gives hope that more foods that are serving time now may eventually get pardons. Personally, and though it’s definitely a long shot, I’m pulling for ice cream. As far as I’m concerned, it deserves a full pardon and the Congressional Medal of Freedom to boot.

Don’t laugh. A recent obituary came with some good news. (I mean, if you can consider an obit good news.) I just read that S. Prestly Blake, co-founder with his brother Curtis, of Friendly Ice Cream recently departed this world at the age of one hundred six. Given what he fed to the public and, reportedly, pretty much lived on himself, we should consider the possibility that ice cream is good for ya’.

The Friendly establishments are an institution in our native Northeast stomping grounds. The Blakes started with just ice cream. By selling a double dip for five cents, half the going price during the Depression, they raked in the dough from day one and never looked back. Last time I checked, the menu offered all things fried, cheesy, gooey, and sweet. The only thing green was the dill pickle on your burger.

Brother Curtis, poor soul, did not do as well as S. Prestly did. He died at age one hundred two. Probably should have eaten more ice cream. At any rate, if there is such a thing as cosmic justice, I suspect the Blakes will be eating salads for eternity.

My beloved wife and I have a highly ambivalent relationship with ice cream. Much as we’d wish it to be, ice cream is not a part of our normal diet. The way we deal with it is, first and foremost, never to eat the crappy kind that’s all fillers, high fructose corn syrup and air. That slop will kill you just as quick as Ben and Jerry’s, so why not stick, on the occasions you eat it, to the good stuff? We’ll typically go several months without ice cream, but when the supermarket puts their pretty good, all natural store brand on sale at a third of the usual price, we bust out of our self-imposed dietary incarceration. We then languish in an ice cream induced haze several nights in a row before, with great gnashing of teeth, donning our culinary hair shirts and embarking on the next months-long pilgrimage of gastronomic self-flagellation. We rationalize that, after such a long period of abstinence, we are catching our ice cream-deprived intestines off guard, allowing the offending substances to slide harmlessly through before our alimentary tracts even know what hit them.

You may recall my blog, “Pepsi For Breakfast,” in which I related Sandy’s vow to consume only Coke and Cheese Doodles from age 80 on. Donald Kendall, the late CEO of Pepsi lived to 99 drinking it every morning. Pepsi also owns Frito-Lay, producer of Cheetos. We figured his longevity demonstrated the superior health benefits of his products to those of the Coca-Cola company. That prompted Sandy to decide, when that milestone arrives, to go with Pepsi and Cheetos. The Blake brothers offer a similar hope for those of us who don a mantle of righteousness while lusting in our hearts after ice cream. OK, it’s based on just a couple of cases, but if those guys lived to the ages they did scarfing down so much ice cream, I’m guessing some scientist will walk into junk food jail some day to spring it from the cooler. (Of course, it will forever remain on the “most wanted” list.)

I just wish they’d hurry up and do it before that ice cream goes on sale again.

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