Super Size Me wasn’t a documentary in the way that an Errol Morris or Maysles brothers film is. That is to say, it’s based less on facts than showmanship and is riddled with self-serving buffoonery and inaccuracies. Still, it was groundbreaking, and not merely because Morgan Spurlock’s bloodwork went from healthy 30-something to Greek yogurt just by eating McDonald’s for a month. No, some people totally missed the lesson of the binge and have gone on to perfect an unnerving sort of new economy: brand loyalty as extended job tryout, or plain ol’ cry for attention.
Eat a Big Mac every day for a couple of months and you could be the new Ronald. (Or anti-Ronald, in Spurlock’s case.) And the first-name basis here is no fluke. If you say “Jared,” almost everyone knows who you’re talking about — and it ain’t Leto. Fogle, of course, has come under fire recently in some very damning ways. (Actually the most damning: for child pornography.) But, previously, this dude had a job making literally millions of dollars and all because he decided to eat at Subway for a really long time. Stop and think about that. What the fuck?
Now, these fame-gluttons pop up every day. My personal favorite might be the dude who tried to get the most money of an Olive Garden “Never Ending Pasta Pass” and ate there 95 times in six weeks. When the cheese is being ground upon his pasta, he musters all of his carbohydrate-rich strength to greet it with a super-icky, “Hello, friend.” He is pumped and, oddly, driven.
It’s what’s up now: Eat a sheaf of food at one joint and at the very least the local news might cover your self-inflicted monocropping. Just a few weeks ago there were competing headlines on two different guys eating Chipotle for streaks. (One did it for 100 days and the other for 153. Congrats?) If you just Google “man eats Taco Bell,” results pop up like this guy who ate the entire dollar menu in one sitting or this fella who ate nothing but T Bell for a week. Into the search bar goes “man eats Twinkies” and here we go:
Why are we praising these people? Better yet: Why are we even paying attention?
Brand loyalty as a means for attention or even a gig is no new thing. If you work at J. Crew, they probably want you to have worn their clothes before. But they might also think you’re a psycho if you exclusively wear their clothes. But, not Subway. Jared’s story was a way for them to get the message out there that A) Subway is healthy and B) Subway is for the everyman. He reaped the rewards — which may be seized sooner than later. But he won’t be the last extreme loyalty pitch man, even if his story has taken a bleak turn.
Brands love dedication and the American people love brands. There’s something attractive about a story that goes: Area man eats solely Lunchables for two months! Its everything we want: It’s hilarious, it’s gross, it harkens to childhood memories. When we were kids it was totally normal to only want to eat Burger King. Now if a grown man does it: holy shit. What an aberration. Let’s get a camera on this dude, stat. And maybe give him millions of dollars, to boot.