This is a wonderful and funny review of what appears to be a very silly book: The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Diet, by David A. Kessler.
A great review of a bad book manages to be funny, mean, and educational. In other words, it insults the book and the author but does so in a reasonable and insightful way and manages to keep the reader's interest. This review does all those things.
Kessler tries to convince us that "big food" is out to ruin the nation by making food taste good, look attractive and by publicizing it well. The reviewer demolishes his arguments. Here are a few good parts:
He combines banal observations, dressed up as scientific insights and revelations of corporate misdeeds, with presumptuous advice that overgeneralizes from his own troubled relationship with food.
Kessler fearlessly accuses major restaurant chains of a crime they brag about, relying on unnamed “insiders” to reveal that comestible pushers such as Cinnabon and The Cheesecake Factory deliberately make their food delicious—or, as he breathlessly puts it, “design food specifically to be highly hedonic.” Kessler certainly has the goods on the corporate conspiracy to serve people food they like. “We come up with craveable flavors, and the consumers come back, even days later,” a “research chef at Chili’s” confesses to him. Kessler also reveals that Nabisco lures Oreo eaters through a dastardly combination of sweet white filling and crunchy, bittersweet chocolate wafers, achieving “what’s called dynamic contrast.” Or maybe it’s “what the industry calls ‘dynamic novelty,’ ” as Kessler claims in another Oreo discussion elsewhere in the book. Either way, it’s so good it must be bad.
He also encourages readers to “feel angry at the marketing and advertising techniques designed to get you to eat more, at the huge portion sizes served at restaurants, and at the layered and loaded food you encounter everywhere.” It’s all about “reframing seemingly well-meaning acts as hostile ones.” Thinking back on all those times my mother offered me a second helping, I now realize how much she hates me.