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Is Biggest Best?
by Mad Dog


Cheesesteaks have 1,320 calories (half a man’s recommended daily intake), 85 grams of fat (more than you should consume in a day), 76 grams of protein (the equivalent of a cow or two), and taste great.
     Philadelphia has a new claim to fame—it’s been crowned the flabbiest city in the United States. So instead of conjuring up images of the Liberty Bell, American Bandstand, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and Rocky Balboa beating the crap out of a side of beef, from now on when we think of Philadelphia we’re going to picture people waddling down the street stuffing cheesesteaks in their mouths and chasing it with a side order of scrapple. It’s official, the City of Brotherly Love is now the City of Brotherly Love Handles.

     I’m not making this up, Men’s Fitness magazine did. Having already run through the obvious article ideas, like " "Buns of Titanium—You Can Have The Body of the New Millennium™!" and "Pilates, Greek Philosopher or Today’s Torture?", they decided it was time to rate the 50 largest cities in the United States in categories like exercise habits, the number of junk food restaurants, smoking, and how many people can see their feet while standing up. Philadelphia won. Or lost, depending on how you look at it. I’d make a toast to their being Number One but I’m afraid some Philadelphian would grab it out of my hands and eat it.

     Some of the reasons behind this honor is that the city ranks number one in pizza parlors, only 16 percent of the people exercise on a given day, and it turns out a whopping 30 percent of them are overweight. On the other end of the tipped-over scale are San Diego, Minneapolis, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, which are the most fit cities in the country. People there eat better, work out more, smoke less, drink less, and hence are more miserable for more years of their longer life. Nice choice, huh?



Go into any diner and order a sandwich and you’ll get enough food for four. If they’re not careful they’re going to have to change the state motto to "Pennsylvania, what a waist!"
     Obviously food consumption, or should I say overconsumption, plays a big part in Philadelphia’s being Blimp City. This isn’t surprising since it’s the home of the cheesesteak, a huge pile of thinly sliced steak which is fried in oil, piled on a sub roll, smothered in cheese and onions, and often slathered with mayonnaise. Tofu and sprouts this isn’t. These suckers have 1,320 calories (half a man’s recommended daily intake), 85 grams of fat (more than you should consume in a day), 76 grams of protein (the equivalent of a cow or two), and taste great. I was in Philadelphia a few days ago and I have to admit I made a special trip to Jim’s on South Street so I could get one. But this was before Men’s Fitness released their Rotund Report. When it did, which was the next day, I went on a very strict diet of rice cakes and bulimia. Just kidding. Actually I’m not bulimic. I threw up because the rice cakes tasted like, well, rice cakes.

     Another thing that contributes to Philly Phatness is that they serve monumental food portions everywhere. Go into any diner and order a sandwich and you’ll get enough food for four. Get a blue plate special and you’ll go through more courses than a 5th year undergrad. And the Cokes? A small one comes in a 55-gallon drum. If they’re not careful they’re going to have to change the state motto to "Pennsylvania, what a waist!"



They could make a fortune selling wide angle lenses to visitors who want to take their photographs. They could sponsor the Cheesesteak Bowl for the college football teams with the biggest defensive lines
.
    This would be an improvement, especially if they’d use it on their license plates. For years they’ve been using the motto "The Keystone State" because they enjoy the baffled look on our faces when we try to figure out what the hell they’re talking about. They’re certainly not the only ones with esoteric license plate slogans. Utah is "The Beehive State" and I’ve never seen a bee, better yet a hive, there. Idaho is "The Gem State" and they’re known for potatoes, not diamonds. And what to make of South Dakota, which claims to have "Great faces, great places" at the same time South Carolina has "Smiling faces, beautiful places"? Maybe Pennsylvania needs to join this license plate competition and go for "Who cares about faces when our butts are so damned big?"

     But they didn’t. No, in their infinite wisdom they scrapped "The Keystone State" and started issuing license plates with their web site address: WWW.STATE.PA.US. I guess WWW.DUMB_SLOGAN.COM was already taken. Why they did this is a mystery, much like who makes the crop circles and how it is Jon Stewart keeps getting new television shows. Gone are the days of driving down the highway wondering what Pennsylvania’s web site address is. Of course, on the plus side it will give new life to Spot-The-License-Plate games, meaning children will have more to do on long car trips than puke, kick each other, scream every five minutes because they have to go to the bathroom, and generally be an 8-hour testimonial for birth control.

     If Philadelphia was smart they’d capitalize on their new title and use it as a tourist draw. They could make a fortune selling wide angle lenses to visitors who want to take their photographs. They could sponsor the Cheesesteak Bowl for the college football teams with the biggest defensive lines. And they could convince Jose Manuel Barros or Porrino, Spain, who was named the fattest mayor in the world by the Guinness Book of Records, to move there and run for office. Besides, don’t you think it would be a nice touch to be driving along I-95 and see a sign welcoming me to the city that says: "Philadelphia. It’s worth the weight"? I do.

1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them, but try not to smear your cheesesteak on them.

 

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