09 June 2011

Diet Songs: Special K

Special K is more monotonous to eat than Grape Nuts, but not quite as bad as All Bran, which gives it the distinction of not even being the worst cereal, more like the second or third worst. I associate the brand with everything that I scorn about diet culture, it is assimilationist, apologetic, boring, self-hating, sanctimonious, unfeminist, mediocre, passionless. Anti-life.

The current crop of adverts feature women dancing around their kitchens with different bingey flavours of Special K, ersatz food, where what is being sold cannot match the marketing hyperbole. Those women are desperately hungry, I imagine, because The Special K crash diet plan involves eating only one meal a day and replacing the rest with stingy bowls of cereal. Poor cows.

Anyway, this is the last Diet Song in the series and it's one of my favourites because it was really fun to record. It's the classic 'Can you pinch more than an inch?' campaign, which is iconic in advertising history, and the source of much anxiety and disbelief in my playground when I was a kid.

If you can pinch more than an inch of chub on your side, you need to lose weight by eating Special K. I've generally been able to grab about a good handful of flesh in that spot, and at least a foot or two of fat on my belly, not quite a yard. But that hardly matters, everyone can pinch an inch, including thin people, which is why the slogan is marketing gold in terms of creating a rush of fearful consumers.

Pinching an inch inhabits the same body anxiety genealogy as other home tests of freakhood, such as the pencil test. This involves putting a pencil under your tits, if it stays there, your tits are all wrong. By my mid-teens I could keep a whole pack of felt-tips under my breasts and these days I treat them as an extra pair of hands from time to time, they can keep a towel or a bottle of shampoo handy whilst I'm doing something else.

Pinching as well, can we talk about that? It's so mean! Pinching your body, policing other people's bodies by pinching them. Ow ow ow! The person who thought this up was obviously not very nice.

Here's our version. I do all the voices and Simon had fun making the pinchy sounds on his homemade effects boxes.

Diet Songs: Special K by Charlotte Cooper + Simon Murphy (.mp3, 540kb)

Diet Songs
New Project: Diet Songs
Diet Pepsi
Diet Coke
Special K


Faycin A Croud said...

God...I remember when I wasn't fat but thought I was and could "pinch an inch" on my belly. Ha! Now I am deathfatz. I kind of like the Special K with "red berries" aka dehydrated strawberries but the plain stuff is only slightly tastier than Rice Krispies. I couldn't imagine eating it for two meals a day!

Charlotte Cooper said...

That pinching thing is pernicious.

I can't handle dehydrated anything but I like a nice bowl of porrige.

Anji said...

I must be the only person in the world who actually likes - no, loves! - Special K. :oP

Anonymous said...

I rather like the strawberry one as well. I have an aversion to milk, so I eat cereal dry. I do like this one enough to substitute it for meals on occasion, usually when I'm too lazy to prepare food, and then I eat about half a box of it - probably not how they intended it to be used since that's like 10 servings...
Oh, the delicious irony :)

Anonymous said...

I remember when that "pencil under the breast" thing got popular, and there were some good send-ups of it. The idea was that you'd put a pencil under your breast and raise your arms - if the pencil fell out, you could go braless. I remember one story of a woman who claimed she could fit the better part of her office supply collection under hers, and there was another woman who likewise scoffed at the test. "Pencil? Bah! I could fit a who typewriter under mine!"


Paul Ernsberger said...

Great project! Diet pills are obviously missing here. The Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper" is the only song that comes to mind ("Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphey's Ovaltine" doesn't really count).
Someday I would like to compose an phentermine aria. I am a bass with some operatic training.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Thanks Paul. We've sung only products that have advertising jingles rather than songs that have dieting associations.

I would like to hear a phentermine aria, or even a sea shanty about Alli.

Emerald said...

Yup, I can do the 'pencil test' with a sizeable pencil case.

I'm not a huge fan of cereal in general, including this one. The campaign of theirs I really, really hated was the one with the 'Stay special' slogan. It conflated lovability with thinness in such a way as to make me want to throw things at the TV.