Feb 082006
Authors: Steven Gross

Only in America would we find a way to combine two of our biggest vices: excess food and television. Thanks to the Food Network, these two unhealthy obsessions can be satisfied simultaneously 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From cooking tips, to wedding cake battles, to watching Al Roker bathe himself in fudge, the Food Network has something for everyone's appetite.

The Food Network is far more than an all-you-can-eat buffet, it's also a place where D-list celebrities can go to die. Al Roker, Marc Summers, Dweezil Zappa and Lisa Loeb (I think they were "rock musicians" at some point) are just some of the has-beens forced to resort to the Food Network for much needed money.

"Unwrapped," hosted by none other than Mr. Marc Summers himself, is one of the network's most popular shows. From Nickelodeon's "Double Dare" and "slimming" America's youth to "hard-hitting" reports on how Boston Cream donuts are really filled, Marc Summers proves there's nothing he won't do for some quick cash.

Another popular show on the gluttony network is "Roker On The Road" with Al Roker. In the past, the show consisted of him scavenging the country for anything edible he could get his oversized hands on.

Now that Roker has undergone stomach-shrinking surgery, the show just doesn't have the same sense of sincerity as it used to. How are viewers supposed to rely on Roker's food tips when the man can only digest two peas a day without having his stomach explode? More importantly, how can a native to the Food Network get away with something like this? What a traitor.

Other shows that have made the network a hit include "Iron Chef" and "$40 a Day." The concept behind "$40 a Day" is fairly straightforward – the host must make it an entire day with only $40 to spend on food. Apparently the writers for this show didn't have college students in mind; I don't even have $40 to spend on food for an entire week let alone a single day. The network should adapt this show for the average university-goer and call it "$4 a Day." Only the perfect combination of dollar menus and ramen noodles would allow this goal to be accomplished; now that would be impressive.

"Iron Chef" was the Food Network's answer to the reality television craze. The show, filmed in Japan, draws most of its entertainment value from terrible and equally amusing voice dubbing, as well as flaming action coming from the grills and the flamboyant host.

Maybe the next step in reality programming for the network could consist of their very own "Survivor"; only the concept of this show would entail contestants attempting to consume everything featured on the network in a 24-hour period. The contestant whose heart lasted the longest without exploding would obviously be the winner and immediately receive the grand prize of triple-bypass surgery.

On the topic of busting arteries, here's a heart-stopping fact: In the past ten years the Food Network has been on air, obesity in America has more than doubled. Coincidence?

On the bright side, if it weren't for the Food Network's 24-hour commitment, depressed and jobless individuals would have to settle for repetitive and inane infomercials during the wee hours of the night.

So whether you've enjoyed watching Marc Summer's (may he live forever) obsessive-compulsive persona tell you exactly how your food is made, or a Tourette-ridden Emeril Lagasse make meaningless outbursts towards his audience, the Food Network has undoubtedly made its presence felt in American households.

If there's one thing we should learn from the Food Network's gut-busting success, it's that combining two of America's biggest vices can create an unstoppable force. If this trend continues, what destructive duo can we look forward to meeting next? Perhaps a debauchery between America's other most infamous vices: pornography and gambling.

Steven Gross is a senior finance/real estate major. His column appears every Thursday in Verve.


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