funny humor column mcawesome

I ingested a known toxin

by Dave McAwesome

There is poison swirling in my once pure body. It was an accident, but it is no less painful.

The culprit is laziness. My lunch habits are disintegrating rapidly. I swore off fast food (the portion of the food pyramid that squats over a toilet) years ago, but find myself occasionally swerving off the paved road of nutrition and into the garbage strewn gully of franchised meat stands. Subway used to be a haven, an oasis of lean sandwiches in a desert of fried meat products. Subway's quality seems to decrease with each opening of a new store. Once comparable to a mediocre homemade sandwich, their subs are now little more than vehicles for their hard, white, vitamin-free lettuce.

My downfall, however, comes not from their limp lettuce confetti, but from a bag of chips that comes with the meal.

I am standing in front of their chip rack like an idiot, checking the backs of bags for something with the nutritional content at least as healthy as corrugated cardboard. Halfway through the munchies, I absentmindedly check the ingredients (out of sheer boredom, no doubt--the Subway store has emptied and there are no more people to mock...what's that, you say? Mock the staff? They slap bread and condiments together on a sandwich assembly line. I don't think there's anything I can say to make them feel worse about their empty, joyless lives. But don't let that stop you from angling for Jerk of the Year.).

The second ingredient listed after 'potatoes' is 'olestra.' "Hmm," I think to myself. "That sounds familiar, but I can't remember if it's a good familiar or a bad familiar." I say it aloud to my lunch companion. Apparently, we both have sieves for brains because neither of us remembers anything about olestra. I google it later. Not good. Here are some excerpts:

"The FDA has already received more than 20,000 reports of olestra-related adverse reactions...most involve diarrhea, gas and cramps."

"Several victims reported episodes of fecal incontinence."

My favorite: "If you’re going to buy Lay's Light, Ruffles Light, or Doritos Light, you also might want to stock up on Cottonelle, Quilted Northern, or Charmin--and plan not to stray too far from the bathroom," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.


Said one Michigan woman, "The pain was extreme."

"The FDA has logged more complaints about olestra than it has about all other food additives in history combined."


The FDA's own warning once read: "Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients." I can't have my vitamins and nutrients absorbed. I may need them later, especially, for example, getting my sorry self to the proper facility during the aforementioned episodes of fecal incontinence.

Proctor and Gamble scientists had to go back and modify the molecular structure so that it would not cause "anal leakage." (Contray to urban legend, anal leakage was only a side effect of an early, unmarketed version of olestra.) Wait, wait...this is the best part...anal leakage is unacceptable, however, abdominal cramping and loose stools are acceptable. Somehow. In Bizarro World (which dovetails nicely with our own, unfortunately).

Another strike against olestra: It has a hideous website. That alone sends me running for the bathroom.

My stomach clamps tight about 40 minutes after ingesting the foul, demon chips. I pour glass after glass of water, hoping I can flush out the impurity. The next nine hours are cramptastic and marked by shocking levels of flatulence. Briefly, I consider buying a box of women's Motrin. I will spare you the details of what happened during my frequent trips to the toilet. Thank criminy for scented candles.

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