Remorseless Eatin’ Machine

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,

Obese diners at all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurants were more likely than other customers to sit closer to the buffet, face the food bar, use forks rather than chopsticks, use larger plates, and serve themselves immediately rather than first browsing the food, according to a study reported in the August issue of the journal Obesity. Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing at Cornell University, and his co-author Collin R. Payne, compared the behaviors and body-mass indexes of 213 restaurant patrons for their paper, “Eating Behavior and Obesity at Chinese Buffets.” Leaner patrons were more likely to sit at booths than tables, leave food on their plates, and place their napkins on their laps, the researchers reported.

It’s kind of shooting (Chinese steamed, with ginger) fish in a barrel to poke fun at this, but it’s hilarious to consider the context in which this research project was developed.  Since it was conducted by marketing professors, are they pointing out that obese patrons are bad for business?  Yes I realize that obesity as a health problem is not funny, but behaviors at all-you-can-eat buffets are inherently amusing.  There’s something transgressive about the whole concept, encapsulated in the paradoxical promise of the name.  It makes me think of that classic Simpsons episode in which Homer is sued by The Frying Dutchman, an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, for eating too much.  The line I remember is the owner saying of Homer, “‘Tis no man, ’tis a remorseless eatin’ machine!”

OK I admit I just looked this up to get it right.  Amazing that in 10 seconds I was able to access the entire script of this episode, which was written by Conan O’Brien as it happens.

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