Long before Michelle Obama was trying to obliterate obesity in this country, Homer Simpson was trying to exploit it as a handicap that would enable him to work from home. Fed up with the mandatory 5-minute calisthenics program instituted by Mr. Burns at the power plant, the pudgy safety inspector vows to gain 61 pounds in order to reach the minimum weight required to receive disability. The last gulp of something “non-toxic” that puts him over the edge? A homemade donut, sculpted from Play-doh, by Chef Maggie.
Homer finds himself in hot water when he challenges the wrong man to a duel. Forced into hiding, the Simpsons take refuge in Grampa’s old farmhouse – however the property’s barren acres have never been lucky for growing crops. Thanks to a package of plutonium from Lenny, and Homer’s misstep in sowing a hodgepodge of tomato and tobacco seeds together, a mutated crop known as tomacco is born. Laramie Cigarettes sees big profit in the word’s little “m,” which would allow the evil corporation to legally push the hybrid fruit on minors. Unfortunately, the harvest is destroyed by nicotine-addicted farm animals jonesing for a fix.
Hank Azaria’s talented vocal chords have generated no misfit more tragic than our lovable loser bartender, Moe Szyslak. When the guy who doles out mother’s milk trades it all in to run a restaurant, Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag, we get to see a whole new side of the unfortunate-looking illustrated character. Every time someone orders the “million dollar fries,” the proprietor of the greasy establishment emerges bearing the oil-soaked potatoes on his head — so eat fast, kids, that basket on his head is extremely hot.
A personal favorite — this scene speaks to me because it’s real. While Marge prepares Thanksgiving dinner, her eager son simply wants to lend a helping hand. She assigns him the menial task of opening, emptying and presenting a single can of cranberry sauce. Every step of the process poses too big a challenge for the 9-year-old sous chef — yet this doesn’t stop Bart from taking full credit for the sweet, essential side dish that commemorates the Pilgrims' arrival on Plymouth Rock.
Theme restaurants are fun…ish, more so on vacation. Itchy and Scratchy Land might as well be the equivalent to Disney World — albeit a more openly violent and hate-filled Disney World. When the Simpsons take their family getaway to the fictional theme park, they find themselves ordering some outrageously brutal-named entrees, such as eyeball stew and brain burgers. Marge is skeptical to get into the fun, perhaps rightfully so. The matriarch settles on “baby guts,” which simply disgusts the waiter — after all, eating veal is a controversial matter.
Never has Van Halen’s honest tune, “Hot For Teacher,” had a more possibly fatal outcome. The master sushi chef at The Happy Sumo is busy shtupping Edna Krabappel, leaving his apprentice in charge of Homer’s exotic blowfish order. When his boss returns, mighty satisfied I might add, he finds that his pupil might have butchered the poisonous fish incorrectly, thus cutting short our over-eater’s life. Homer takes new stock in his final minutes on earth, savoring every moment, appreciating his family as never before — that is, until he survives longer than his 22-hour deadline — and then he’s back on his beloved couch again.
As storied as the New York International Auto Show, the Springfield Candy Convention brings together sweet-tooths from far and wide. Of course, all-you- can-eat candy is enough for the run-of-the-mill glutton, but not our hairless oaf. He sees the irresistible, artisan-carved Gummy Venus De Milo and must stake his claim in the work-of-art. However, after smuggling the Venus back to Evergreen Terrace, Homer cannot find the treasured bite of chewy-ness. It is only when he drops off the babysitter that the gummy Goddess reveals herself on the part-time worker-turned feminist symbol’s bootie. He just wanted some sugar, honey, not a squeeze of your badonkadonk.
The chili connoisseur — who legend has it has carved his fabled wooden spoon out of a larger wooden spoon — has finally met his match when Chief Wiggum whips up his recipe, complete with peppers so hot that they send Homer into a pseudo-acid trip. The only way our hero can even stomach the fiery Guatemalan import is to line his mouth with wax (ironically it’s Ralph Wiggum — the son of the vicious chef — who gives Homer the idea.) A few spoonfuls of the zesty beef concoction, and Papa Simpson begins to question his entire life. Luckily, a talking fox leads him back to his one true love.
Food Trucks might seem to be all the rage nowadays in New York City, but the idea was foreign to a lower-middle-class gentleman from Springfield, USA. If this episode teaches us one thing, it’s don’t assign your most alcoholic friend the responsibility of designated driver. Barney isn’t up to the task and the reverse–peer pressure pushes him over the edge and all the way to the city that never sleeps… in Homer’s car. When Homer visits the Big Apple to retrieve his automobile, his booted car serves as a prison cell — keeping him away from the slice of pizza he truly desires. It also forces him to stomach gruel in the form of what we have to assume is some kind of Halal cuisine. I don’t know what Khlav Kalash is, but the out-of-towner licks his stick clean and washes it down…ew…not with Mountain Dew, but the more satisfactory clam juice.
I mean, really the episode in its entirety propels it to the #1 spot. Lisa becomes a vegetarian, in defiance of her tyrannical meat-obsessed father. His BBBQ (the extra B is for BYOBB — that extra B is a typo) offers no animal-free options to the guests. The most intelligent Simpson must learn, from Paul and Linda McCartney of all people, that she cannot force her beliefs on anyone else. This episode is stuffed with memorable food moments — from pigs flying through the air to students gobbling up plates of tripe — the cadence we are left repeating is the contagious conga beat, “You don’t win friends with salad.” (Or do you?)