COMMENTARY | So an unofficial spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill in Nevada died of a heart attack . John Alleman, 52 was such a regular at the gluttonous eatery that his image was on the menu. He was not the first patron to die; according to Yahoo! News, another patron died last year, and yet another survived a heart attack.
In what should be noted is not an image for the weak-of-stomach, the restaurant’s page features photos, including one of the so-called “Quadruple Bypass Burger,” an homage to grease, posed next to a pack of cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes. Because it appears that the Heart Attack Grill is serious about its name.
It also has what one can only assume is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek “Diet Program,” with testimonials to weight gain. Though it’s supposed to be funny, under the circumstances, it’s the opposite.
The restaurant crows about its world record for the nearly 10,000 calories in the Quadruple-Bypass Burger, making it the highest calorie burger available. But is that really a point of pride?
We live under a miasma of denial in this country. Yes, yes, yes, fatty food isn’t good for you. Sure, sure, sure eating 10,000 calories in a sitting — four days’ worth for an average person — isn’t the best thing to do. But it won’t kill you.
Until it does.
Would Alleman’s life have been any less interesting, any less fun, if he’d chosen a healthier restaurant as a regular haunt? Would he still be alive?
It’s difficult to say where the blame lies with an eatery that turns food consumption into a stunt. Clearly, as the restaurant seems to be going strong despite some pretty adverse outcomes, there’s a market for it. But is it the owner’s fault that like other sins, gluttony sells?
Did I mention that people who weigh more than 350 pounds eat free?
I don’t know if that clouds the waters for you, but it certainly does for me. It’s like an open bar for alcoholics only, free betting for compulsive gamblers.
As reported by the New York Daily News, Alleman ate at the Heart Attack Grill nearly every day. He didn’t look particularly overweight, but you can’t see a man’s arteries when you’re looking at him.
The problem with this kind of competitive calorie-packing is that there is no end to it. Records are always broken; that’s the nature of them. Today it is the 10,000 calorie burger; next year it will be 12,000 and then 15,000 and on and on and on.
Nothing, of course, negates the responsibility we have to ourselves, to our own bodies, to all the bits and pieces that keep us breathing and our blood flowing that we don’t see. We are the ones who decide what we consume.
But the mixed messages we get about food are endless. We are constantly told about the risks of high-calorie, high-fat diets, but everywhere we look there are high-calorie, high-fat options. Are they really so bad, say our human, fat-desiring brains, if they are that plentiful?
We rationalize. We minimize risk. We say it is in fun, and we eat what we want.
“What’s the harm?” we ask ourselves. Well, now we know.