Hey! Come on! Eat me!
April 18, 2007 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Suicide food. Yep, some animals just have an inexplicable death wish. Classic. Creepy. Cute. Sporty. Disturbingly sexy. Just plain confusing. These animals all have one thing in common. They're freakin' tasty.
posted by miss lynnster (43 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Suicide? Food? You google the dangdest things.
posted by YamwotIam at 8:22 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I live in Memphis. When I moved here, I was aghast at the many images of happy pigs serving up their fellow pig. I never saw them as suicidal, they seem more... traitorous. "Sorry, Snowball! All animals are equal, but some are just more tasty than others!"
posted by tomboko at 8:29 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've always considered this form of mascot to be disturbing. I know their just cartoons, but I can't help but thinking that these creatures are either grossly uninformed about their employers, or worse, they are willing collaborators selling their kin into certain doom.

I remember two posters in a Blimpie's restaurant from years ago that I still think about today. The first, an advertisement for a new chicken sandwich, featured a rooster on a fence asking "Where'd everybody go?" I always imagined it running around the barnyard like in a horror movie only to realize that he is the only survivor. "How could you?!" it will scream at the customers.

Next is a poster of Sam the Tuna holding a suitcase painted with the phrase "Blimpie or Bust" and giving a hearty thumbs up. Does he know the truth? Or has the money so stained his soul that he is excited about ending it all?
posted by Alison at 8:32 PM on April 18, 2007

That's how I've always thought of it too, tamboko. Either they're evil traitors or just plain stupid. When I was a kid I could never EVER figure out why Charlie Tuna was always so bummed out at the site of that "Sorry Charlie" rejection letter on the end of that fishhook. It's like, "Are you a freaking idiot? This is not the time to wallow in self pity and question your esteem! Swim away, fool!"
posted by miss lynnster at 8:36 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's a rule in my house, that you don't make fun of the food. You don't pick up a chicken wing and flap it like you can fly. You don't pick up the turkey and make him dance. You don't cut into a steak and go "Moo."

It's just wrong.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:36 PM on April 18, 2007

site=sight (Too much SMSing lately. I'm shorthanding everything!)
posted by miss lynnster at 8:37 PM on April 18, 2007

Hey, I'm good! (quicktime)
posted by brain_drain at 8:47 PM on April 18, 2007

Let us not forget when reports of the demise of our own stavrosthewonderchicken were greatly exaggerated.
posted by wendell at 8:52 PM on April 18, 2007

Since brain_drain beat me to the Cluckin' Chicken spot, here's a real KFC commercial with Foghorn Leghorn.
posted by evilcolonel at 9:10 PM on April 18, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!
posted by dilettante at 9:22 PM on April 18, 2007

I know this ain't what you meant, but the term "suicide food" makes me think of anything I like to eat, given my cholesterol level. (Ever watch an MD's eyes bug out?)
posted by davy at 9:27 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

This makes me so hungry.

In my town, there's a ribs and BBQ place at the corner of a busy intersection. Every day I drive past, without fail, there is a guy in a pig costume standing at the corner waving to traffic. Now, I've not yet rolled down my window in an attempt to converse with this pig, but I can only imagine that every day he calls out to strangers with a similar cannibalistic zeal: "Come on in and eat my family!"
posted by kyleg at 9:58 PM on April 18, 2007

Yesterday one of my professors had a long conversation with me about the Shmoo. We got to that topic by way of Jonson's "Penshurst" (lns. 29-38ish).

When I started writing this comment, I thought it was about "whoa, coincidence." Then it was "suicidal food throughout history." Now I think it's "holy crap, there's something wrong with me."
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:14 PM on April 18, 2007

Oh come on. Let's be honest and thoughtful about it, and at least include some sensible analysis from time to time on the blue...

While it may be the case that in the 21st century, a flattened, self-aware sense of irony (we point it out rather than chuckle) picks this up as weird, this tradition is much older than mass literacy. Consider, for example, this photograph I took of a veterinary sign in Cambridge, UK.

Are they really telling a story with this sign? Of course not. If you send your donkey, spotted dog, cat, or flying rooster to the Carendon St. Veterinarian, it will not immediately go out and get on the back of some other animal which is rearing up on its hind legs on the road to Bremen.

I am rather certain that the tradition of visual signs [is there a semioticist or social art critic in the house?] goes back to before mass literacy. This means that:

1. A good sign should not need text to be understood. Hence the depiction of the animal you wish to heal or eat. Hence the Mortar+Pestle for apothecaries, pharmacies. Before literacy, this means that non-readers can understand. After literacy, it means that someone driving past at 45mph can understand.

2. The sign has to be unique. This is not just any vet, not just any pork joint. Uniqueness is one of the basic principles of logo design, and when you can't modify the typeface because people can't read, you modify the visual logo. Brand recognition.

3. If you're going to be unique, why not be humorous? Even if Porky isn't serving up his friends, the irony is still there. I can understand why vegans/vegetarians would find it disturbing, but they already consider the act of killing and eating to be disturbing. If you're going to put up a sign of the animal you're killing and eating, the irony/humor is already there. Why not make it explicit?

James Lileks has covered this sort of thing extensively (and not just in food), also proving hands-down that the most disturbing anthropomorphization is that of bread. However, while such things *can* be disturbing, I prefer seeing a picture of a pig or fish to seeing a picture of the dish which is actually served.
posted by honest knave at 10:19 PM on April 18, 2007

posted by scrod at 10:29 PM on April 18, 2007

Okay, so this is where I guess the graphic designer should chime in. That vet sign is great because it shows a sweet James Herriot world where all creatures great and small are at peace, happy & healthy. They placed them they way they did (on top of eachother) to be playful, and to fit them onto the sign. Nobody thinks "Hey! Look! Animals make pyramids in there!"

In contrast, while I'm VERY familiar with vintage anthropormorphism of food (I have a treasured collection of illustrated recipe pamphlets from the 40s-50s that are filled with it), there is really nothing about a smoking, garter-wearing, piggy prostitute that as a designer I could possibly consider good branding for a family barbecue restaurant. Or am I missing something? I just can't really imagine any of my clients would be particularly pleased if I presented something like that in a meeting...
posted by miss lynnster at 10:48 PM on April 18, 2007

Seriously... that piggy prostitute just squeeks me out.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:02 PM on April 18, 2007

Who else clicked on the word "creepy" first?
posted by tracy_the_astonishing at 11:07 PM on April 18, 2007

I dunno, miss lynnster, I find it more disturbing that a BBQ sign would call so much attention to a pig's six tits.
posted by dilettante at 11:12 PM on April 18, 2007

I was actually going to link to that... but the reason I didn't was that I didn't want to sarcastically ask "Is this a great logo for a restaurant?!?" and end up just inspiring pervy comments about porcine boobs.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:19 PM on April 18, 2007

miss lynnster, maybe she's just a waitress who likes big tips. Ever heard of H00ters?
posted by davy at 11:34 PM on April 18, 2007

Well, tips probably don't matter when you're about to be thrown on the spit. Y'know?
posted by miss lynnster at 11:36 PM on April 18, 2007

This is great, thanks, miss lynnster.
posted by fenriq at 11:38 PM on April 18, 2007

Surprisingly dumb analysis. Plus, why no mention of vegetable anthropomorphism?
posted by phaedon at 11:39 PM on April 18, 2007

Cut Me, Wicked Servant... is a Flickr group about these kinds of ads.

I think I might've first read about this phenomenon in a zine called Beer Frame.

My favorite one ever (I wish I could find a picture online - I took one but it was with film and the picture is in storage somewhere) was an ad in the windows at Popeye's in 2001. It was a pathetic shrimp gesturing towards some text about their new shrimp deal. He had the saddest yet smiling face like if he was begging you to eat his kind so that he could have a purpose in life. I couldn't tell if he had sold out his fellow shrimps in exchange for that job or if he was forced to do it and then thrown into a vat of hot oil afterwards. Either way, those people at Popeye's are manipulative and evil.
posted by redteam at 12:16 AM on April 19, 2007

Yeah, I'm with miss lynster's last post: my first thought was those plastic models you see on the sidewalk outside hot dog places, usually enthusiastically slathering their own heads with ketchup and mustard. And licking their own lips at the thought of what: eating their own heads? What the fuck is that all about? I got extra-weirded once by a similar plastic anthropomorphic carton of french fries (like the one in that cartoon trailer that some-one linked to yesterday), pulling out a ketchup-dripping fry out of the inside of its own head, grinning.
posted by hydatius at 1:01 AM on April 19, 2007

I had this idea ages ago. The various fried chicken places around London tend to be great examples of this.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:49 AM on April 19, 2007

Luckily, Kermit got away to Hollywood. Although it is always nice to see animals selling their bodies to me, to be cooked and eaten. Makes me feel important, or sexy, or hungry, or horny, or ew.
posted by DanielDManiel at 2:42 AM on April 19, 2007

Metafilter: willing collaborators selling their kin into certain doom.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:03 AM on April 19, 2007

Are they really telling a story with this sign?

Donkey, dog, cat, rooster all in a pile on the road to Bremen? That'd be this story, or part of it at least.
posted by motty at 4:38 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

What, I'm not good enough for him?
posted by Drexen at 4:42 AM on April 19, 2007

Back before he started on his unending ego trip, Maurice Bessinger's Gourmet BBQ was simply "Maurice's Piggie Park" -- you can see the suicide-food logo on the picture of the sign at left.

(This guy is such a real-life self-caricature that he's almost worthy of an FPP in his own right.)
posted by pax digita at 4:53 AM on April 19, 2007

I'm looking for cans of Hello Kitty. Talk about mood food.
posted by jfuller at 4:54 AM on April 19, 2007

I hope they weren't intending to shock me with these images because I just really want some barbeque now.
posted by saraswati at 5:45 AM on April 19, 2007

There's a Mongolian barbecue near St. Louis that was once a Memphis barbecue. Behind tables loaded with thin strips of raw chicken, beef, pork, and mysterious seafood items there's a brick wall with painting of a pair of sunglass-wearing, grinning, guitar-playing pigs. It's just too strange.
posted by Foosnark at 6:46 AM on April 19, 2007

motty: fascinating!
posted by honest knave at 7:17 AM on April 19, 2007

Oh . . . I'd love to be an oscar meyer weener.
posted by bukvich at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2007

I forgot about that story!
posted by miss lynnster at 7:40 AM on April 19, 2007

Awesome! I have this classic poster framed in my living room, along with this one. It's a pretty old theme, I suppose.
posted by norm at 7:53 AM on April 19, 2007

It's obvious that these suicidal animals are simply trying to cheat their karmic destiny and hasten their reincarnation into a nobler form. "What the--? I came back as a freakin' pig? Oh, well, let's get a move on to the nearest BBQ joint. Mebbe the next revolution will bring me back as a cat or something."
posted by Midnight Creeper at 9:13 AM on April 19, 2007

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