Neatly encapsulating the prevailing foodie conventional wisdom, science-fearing New York Times contributor Michael Pollan has famously advised America to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He also believes we should eat like our ignorant, backward ancestors ("Don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food") instead of like modern human beings. But as regular Gawker readers know, heavily-processed, contemporary American fast food has preserved an inordinate number of its inventors and purveyors well past any reasonable life expectancy. This morning's Times brings word of the death of hamburger chain founder Wilber Hardee at the ripe old age of 89. Granted, he was felled by a heart attack. But he joins no fewer than four other fast food pioneers who have kicked the bucket over the past six months at extraordinarily advanced ages:
- Processed french-fry inventor JR Simplot, 99, "natural causes," May.
- Baskin-Robbins founder Irvine Robbins, 90, "complications related to old age," May.
- Lovie Yacey, founder of Fatburger, 96, "pneumonia," February.
- Carl's Jr. founder Carl Karcher, 90, "had Parkinson's disease and was being treated for pneumonia," January.
We left out Popeye's Fried Chicken founder Al Copeland, 64, who died of "malignant salivary gland tumor" in March. But he didn't do too badly at all, especially, as our own Hamilton Nolan pointed out, "for a man with a lifetime diet of fried chicken!" (Ahem.)
So there you go — irrefutable, scientific proof that you not only can but probably should load up on cheeseburgers, ice cream, french fries and hot dogs throughout the summer and really for the rest of your life. Hold the guilt!