Thursday, February 7, 2013

Nanny! Make Him Stop!

How's this for a "Big Breakfast?"

  • 12 rashers (or, as we call them in the U.S., "pieces") of bacon
  • 12 sausages
  • Six eggs
  • Four black pudding slices 
  • Four slices of bread and butter 
  • Four slices of toast
  • Four slices of fried bread
  • Two hash browns 
  • Eight-egg cheese and potato omelette
  • Saute[d] potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Beans 
  • Tomatoes
This is the Kidz Breakfast, termed such presumably because at nine pounds, it weighs as much as a small child. Check out the story on the BBC's website. The platter that Jester's Diner serves this thing on could be used as a sled. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the only person to ever finish one of these monster meals in the allotted 1 hour time frame was a competitive eater. Perhaps amazingly, the man only weighs 154 pounds. (His metabolism must set fire to every calorie with a hundred yards.)

And perhaps depressingly, Professor David Haslam, from the United Kingdom's National Obesity Forum went on the record with: "It should be banned." According to the good Professor, "eating the breakfast was 'dangerous' and 'profoundly wrong'." Dangerous I can get, even if it does come across as just a wee bit hyperbolic; as even Professor Haslam conceeds that it's "very unlikely" that even a person with a heart condition would simply drop dead if they somehow managed to shovel the whole meal into their body at a single sitting. And, after all, not even Jester's Diner actually recommends that anyone attempt to tackle this thing on their own.

At the heart of the Nanny State is the idea that there are people who can't be trusted not to make stupid choices, so those who know better have to take it upon themselves to limit the choices available to "sensible" ones. Wedded to this idea is that people are too dim to make poor choices unless actively presented with them. In theory, nothing stops any adventurous Briton with more culinary skill than sense from whipping one of these up in their own kitchen and going for the record. It's not like people haven't dreamed up crazier ways to get into Guinness. Sure, most people aren't going to go through the effort. But then again, most people are unlikely to go after the Kidz Breakfast without about a dozen of their closest friends for backup. (At about $23.55, this actually strikes me as a fairly cheap way to take the entire gang out to breakfast, and still have some left over for the dog. A filling breakfast for 10 at £1.50 each? Sounds like a steal.) But it's impossible to come up with a system that protects _everyone_ from themselves without also being over-protective. Okay, 6,000 calories in a single meal is too much for most people who aren't competitive eaters. But when you codify that into law, you're basically taking an arbitrary number and legislating around it. By why not any other number? This isn't to make a slippery slope argument. Rather, it's about pointing out the difficulty in establishing arbitrary limits. And, almost by definition, the rule and restrictions that a nanny state imposes are arbitrary. If hard cases make bad law, random ones are no better.

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