4/28/2011

Hungry Man

People tell me I fret over little things. I reply that the little things are the big things.  Think on that for a while.

I work two 16-hour shifts per week at a hospital.  I work in the X-ray department on the weekends with a skeleton crew.   The place is a dungeon.  Its lead walls seal out sunlight and radio waves.  I imagine this is what it's like inside a submarine -- minus all the seaman.  Trapped, spinning my wheels all day in my leaded hamster cage, I get hungry.  Sure, the hospital has a cafeteria.  But the food is dreadful and I refuse to waste calories on crap (if it doesn't taste good, I don't eat it).  Besides, I don't just need good food for its own sake; I need something to look forward to on my lonely stretches at work.  A morale builder.  Chalk up two reasons to stock the break room freezer with Swanson's Hungry Man dinners.

As a rule, frozen dinners suck.  The food itself is fit for prison.  And it exits the microwave like a science experiment.  Some parts are near absolute zero; others, hot as a plutonium core.  One time, after eating semi-frozen peas like crunchy ice, I dove into the apple cobbler dessert, confident it was cool.  I tasted sweet gooey lava briefly before it scalded my taste buds numb and melted my fillings.  How the hell is that possible from a thermodynamics standpoint?  It's like having Pluto and Mercury on the same cardboard plate.

Frozen dinners were worth their weight in garbage.  But then Swanson introduced their Hungry Man line.  Most of it was still crap, but a few of the meals were really good.  Not only did Swanson deliver on quantity (they came 1-pound and, get this: 1&1/2-pound sizes!), but the quality was there, too.  The meats were premium cuts that reheated well in the microwave.  The sides were tasty.   The seasonings and sauces, serviceable.  Frozen-food science had reached its zenith.  But there was one meal that reigned supreme -- a Michael Jordan of Hungry Man's, if you please.  They called it the Beer-Battered Chicken and Cheesy Fries w/Bacon Bits.  Bow in awe and cross your hearts.  This 4-dollar frozen dinner was bomb, yo.  The chicken was all-white meat, never processed -- strips of breast lightly battered in golden brown goodness.  And the fries were sublime.  The cheese and bacon bits added mellow smoothness and zing to a thick and tender French fry.  Imagine happy hour bar food at a fine local pub.  That's the caliber of meal I'm recollecting.

So I worked my weekends, ate my Hungry Man's, and all was right in the world.

The fuck, bro?  I heated up my Sunday Hungry Man dinner and bit into my first chicken strip.  Ugh!  What the Sam Hell?  Disgusting.  I examined the cross-section of chicken strip with the bite taken out and saw... dark meat chicken?  This couldn't be happening.  Squelching panic, I retrieved the empty package from the trash and read the ingredients.  The "white meat chicken" listing had changed to "chicken."  What had escaped my notice earlier at the grocer was the absence of the "all-white meat" banner on the front of the box.  The bastards at Swanson's dumbed down the recipe to save a buck!  Some bean-counter executive douche bag ruined the best frozen dinner on the planet with one stroke of the pen.  Did he think we wouldn't notice?  Let me assure the cock-knockers at Swanson's that there's a ton of difference between white meat and dark meat chicken which only amplifies under frozen food conditions.

The little things are the big things.  And so, with the dumbing down of my Swanson TV dinner, I infer the decay of civilization: scrimping, bamboozling the customer, making the good things mediocre, forgetting what's important, hoping nobody notices, and serving up second-rate product.

20 comments:

XLMIC said...

As a kid, any frozen dinner was "bomb" to me... given the usual fare of hippy shit I was served. I longed for processed, packaged ANYthing. I remember when those Hungry Man dinners came out... mmmmm, mmmmmm. I can't believe they went and did that to you. To us. To all of civilization. Bastards.

SQT said...

They f*** you at the drive thru!

This is just one example of how manufacturers try to screw us over. I see it all the time. My peanut butter jar, all of a sudden, has a huge divot in the bottom so they can give you less but take just as much money. Cereal and potato chips are sold "by volume" in big bags with very little content.

Pisses me off.

Jeannie said...

Wow! Ode to the Hungry Man!

I hate frozen dinners and well, I don't buy them. But hubby bought some Hungry Man dinners on sale a couple weeks ago. He decided to eat one when I was too sick to cook and was disgusted. He showed me the "meat" and I have to wonder how they call it that at all.

Jennifer Fabulous said...

Ewww what a bummer that they skimped on quality to save a buck! That's gross. :(

And too bad because those dinners were starting to sound good to me. Lol.

This might sound really girly, but the only frozen meals I can swallow are Amy's in the health section. She does a variety of ethnic dishes (Indian, Mexican, Chinese, etc.). Not bad for the few calories...

Kelley said...

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!! That is SUPER gross and cause for major concern. Have you had your stomach pumped yet? BTW, I used to work in a major hospital in the X-ray department, but on a different side of things. In my professional life, I am a speech pathologist and used to conduct modified barium swallow studies. Do you see those going on down in your dungeon much?

Impulsive Addict said...

Ummm...ask your wife to cook for you. Or pack a sandwich. How are you not a bloated tick? Maybe it's a girl thing. Those frozen dinners are NASTY! Ok...well I do like a good chicken pot pie. And those Tortino rollup thingy's. Those are TASTY. Oh, and a Tombstone. You can never go wrong with a Tombstone but I don't suggest putting it in the microwave.

Thanks for posting. I was ready to call you bad names. Like REALLY BAD NAMES.

Shawn said...

Did IA just tell you to ask your wife to cook for you? I wonder if her Majesty cooks for her man? I'm thinking not! I still love her.

The only frozen dinner, if you want to call it that, I can choke down is Healthy Choice. Slightly palatable, definitely not delicious. And since they're healthy and all the portion size is just enough to piss you off!

Nothing is more disgusting than faux meat, especially chicken. GAG!

Penny Lane said...

Just realized I missed one of your Thoughtprints post, so I am going to get on that after this,but you should know I am very disappointed in myself.

I have but one suggestion for you, Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich!! Up Top!

Cameron said...

"I work in the X-ray department on the weekends with a skeleton crew."

HaHahaHaHAH!!

You're too funny, LB. ;)

Deborah said...

Let's start a campaign! We'll boycott those b*stards and get back your real chicken in your meal.

What a world we live in when we have to read every damn ingredient list to make certain we aren't eating god-knows-what.

I am mourning for your loss.

Budd said...

those things have like 1,400 calories or something. Stop killing yourself.

Roxrocks said...

Freeze your leftovers and take THAT to work. Shit, you'd be better off eating dirt than a Hungry Man Frozen Dinner.

Sandra said...

There's always Michelinas...? If you have two, it might equate to the Hungry Man?...don't know, just a thought, you know, in case you're hungry right now.

Xazmin said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Seriously? A frozen dinner is preferable to you, over hospital cafeteria food?

The cafeteria food in our hospitals is the bomb-diggity!

Why do you think I've had 4 babies? That's 48 hours worth (each time) of yummy meals from the hospital cafeteria. And I'm totally not joking.

Mona said...

Story of my life! Whenever I discover something worthwhile, the company either closes, or stops making it or changes the recipe! I tell you! It happens even with ( will you believe it!) medicines!

And moreover, the weight gets lighter and the things costlier! The world is becoming dystopian!

So true...little things ARE big things...

Ashes said...

I'm not a big commenter but I had to share my reaction of HOLY SHIT, my old roomie used to buy those things and they had like 300,000% your daily recommended sodium intake. Well, I don't think it was the exact "meal" you detailed but it was a Hungry Man 1 lbs "dinner"

I needed a drink of water just smelling the damn thing.

KittyCat said...

I dont eat frozen dinners/lunches anymore but when I did one time I got a chicken parmessan and it was missing the chiken. Thats kinda a big part of the meal to be forgetting. i was freakin pissed and also a tad bit hungry.

I now make my lunch every night and take it. So much more health for you.

Just sayin

thoughtsappear said...

16-hour shifts?! That's amazing! No way I could do it.

Shosh said...

I thought I'd be that mother who would never feed her 5 children frozen anything. I'd be cooking every day in my pearls and high heels. Well, I wasn't counting on working 40 hours a week on night shift. I'm so groggy most of the time, I'm lucky if I can find the kitchen at all, let alone cook anything. So, while it's not quite frozen meal, I order out. that's better, right? :)

tornwordo said...

The bomb for me is Stouffers Mac n Cheese. Microwave until burned around the edges. If they changed their recipe, I'd cry. Now you've made me want some salisbury steak.