Saturday, October 31, 2015

FD&C Blue No. 1? Mmm, my favorite

Something evil lurks in your gastrointestinal tract.

When it comes to body parts, it’s easy to overlook our friend the colon – unless you’ve eaten Burger King’s Halloween burger, then you’ll start to worry about it. Seriously. Why hasn’t it written for so long, or even called?
The Halloween burger’s bun is black. The results are not.
Burger King already sells black burgers in its restaurants in Japan. The buns, colored by squid ink, are black, the cheese is black, the sauce is black and the result is as appetizing as pictures from a 1960s cookbook. You know, like the classic Pie Plate Salad. A can of mixed vegetables set in lemon gelatin and covered in tartar sauce. Yum.
The black burgers are popular in Japan (so, I can only assume, is Pie Plate Salad). So popular Burger King brought the burgers to America and marketed the item as a Halloween item. The outcome is scary.
Would you eat something that looked like it just lost a boxing match?
The burgers turn people’s poop bright green. I can see college students waking up with a headache wondering why they got drunk and ate a box of crayons.
The problem is the bun. Unlike the squid ink used in Japanese buns, in America – a relatively squid-free country – the bun is turned black by A.1. Steak Sauce, D&C Red No. 40, molasses powder and FD&C Blue No. 1.
Mmm. FD&C Blue No. 1.
According to an article on, New York City physician Dr. Robert Glatter said the human body can’t break down these dyes, which brings us back to our colon. Those dyes have to go somewhere, and when they do they make us take notice because strangely colored poop could mean anything from gallbladder disease, to celiac disease to cancer. So, thanks Burger King.
But Burger King wasn’t the first commercial food provider to scare us down under.
Sure, I trust this guy.
When it comes to Halloween food, General Mills was once king. With the likes of Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Yummy Mummy, Fruit Brute and Franken Berry cereals, children across the country could watch Scooby-Doo on Saturday mornings with their favorite bowl of terror in their lap.
The most frightening was Franken Berry. The box that featured a grinning Frankenstein-like affront to nature held pink, ghost-shaped cereal and marshmallows, which turned the milk pink. That’s not all.
Packed with FD&C No. 2 and No. 3, Franken Berry turned kid’s poop bright pink, according to (and probably mothers from the 1970s who are still screaming).
Doctors had a highly scientific term for this condition – “Franken Berry Stool.” I think it’s Latin.
A 1972 study on Franken Berry published in the journal “Pediatrics,” was prompted by parents who rushed their 12-year-old boy to the hospital because, well, here’s a description from the study. Remember, a doctor wrote these words: “The stool had no abnormal odor but looked like strawberry ice cream.”
Flaming Hot Cheetos can turn stool red. A few pints of Guinness Extra Stout will make it black. Blue Velvet Cake makes you wonder if you’ve eaten a Smurf. And beets –
Never mind. Nobody eats beets.
This may turn my poop black. I'm OK with that.

Jason’s novel, “A Funeral Story,” is available at

Monday, October 12, 2015

Parent Date Night. Yeah, that's funny

Please. For the love of God, call for help. She won't let us leave.
It was date night, the kind of night parents of young children think only happens in movies. That’s usually true. The genre? Fantasy.
The night didn’t come together easily. Much like readying a space launch, the preparation for parents to leave the house without the smaller versions of themselves takes months, a few hundred people, “Star Trek” technology and a minimum investment of $1 billion.
The idea for our date began with a startling statement.
Danilo Ilić (a fairly angry Bosinan Serb): “I’m bored. Hey, you want to go assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria?”
Gavrilo Princip (shrugging): “Sure.”
No, wait. That’s how World War I started. Our night began something like this:
“We should go on a date,” my wife said, catching me off guard because the words were as foreign as “je ne sais quoi,” which I totally do not have. Date? Dates are what the locals ate in old French Foreign Legion desert movies. I hardly knew how palm fruit applied to us.
“Sure,” I said. If I’ve learned anything about my wife it’s to agree with whatever she says, even if I don’t understand it, and tell her she looks nice. Otherwise I lay low.
A date night? Seriously? The science behinds date nights is simple. Parents have as much chance leaving the house alone as linear elements have adhering to Euclidean space – amiright?
… crickets …
… crickets …
Children saying good-bye. Before and after.
There are so many things parents have to take into consideration just to walk out the door it’s like mounting a military offensive every time we’re out of milk. Dates are a luxury. Parents aren’t like those crazy, devil-may-care singles that can step outside on a whim without a four-year-old clinging to their leg giggling, or screaming, or sobbing uncontrollably. Usually all of the above. Yes, all of the above can happen at the same time.
With that one statement (“We should go on a date”) in minutes the plans were set into motion. We were going to a place where we could hold hands without anyone smaller than us saying “eww” and we were going to enjoy ourselves if we still remembered how. My wife had spoken.
Date night checklist:
  Escape plan? Check.
  Restaurant that doesn’t serve French fries or include toys with a children’s meal? Check.
  Babysitter who doesn’t have a prison tattoo and is still brave enough to take care of our children? Check.
  At least intending not to run out the door laughing? Check.
Once the babysitter arrived we were out the door. And, yes, we were laughing.
It’s an interesting phenomena that when adults who’ve structured their entire communication system around explaining to their children “why,” once these adults are removed from the children they no longer know how to speak.
Sitting at the restaurant, smiling at each other over breadsticks, my wife produced a page she’d ripped from a magazine headlined, “Date Night Questions.” She’s always prepared. Good for her. If the night’s conversation were left to me I’d probably talk about something crazy like beer, or football. Or beer and football. Or order a beer at someplace where we could watch football.
“What country would you most like to visit?” she asked, leaning forward and looking at me in my eyes. My actual eyes. “And why?”
“England,” I said. “Because they speak English. It’s even in the title of the country.”
“Fine. Great effort,” she said. “How about this one? On a scale of one to 10, how cool are you?”
Her eyes glanced back to me, then to the magazine page, then to me again.
“You know, if we have to ask how cool we are, especially from a date night article out of a parenting magazine, chances are we’re not cool at all,” she said.
I knew I married this woman for a reason. She’s smart.
Oh, shit. This is how we got the kids in the first place.
Everything went smoothly from that point. We had drinks, food, drinks, fought the urge to talk about our children, made fun of the young couple eating next to us who obviously didn’t have children (they were discussing a movie that didn’t involve super heroes) and had more drinks.
When we got home, we still remembered our children’s names, but didn’t say them because they were asleep. Excellent.
My wife paid the babysitter, who then got on her Harley (actually a Yamaha scooter with an “I ª Trees” sticker on the front) and drove into the night undamaged. I’d expected to come home to discover the kids had tied the sitter to a chair that was for some reason on fire.
Maybe if my wife and I do this date thing enough we’ll eventually get good at it.

Jason's latest books, "A Funeral Story," and "How to Kill Monsters Using Common Household Items," are available at