« Previous  
 Next »

Bigness

05/14/02 12:00AM By David Moats
 MP3   Download MP3 

(Host) Commentator David Moats is growing concerned...about the growing trend...of "supersizing."

(Moats) Have you noticed everything is getting bigger? I began to see this in restaurants. I ordered a chicken sandwich at a restaurant in Connecticut, and it came on a dish as big as a hubcap. There was a massive pile of french fries, and each of the french fries was a bloated oversized slab of potato. The sandwich itself was on a huge, ungainly roll.

I started to wonder why a restaurant would serve up such an uneatable pile of food. Then I went to an Italian restaurant, and again I got the hubcap plate with a mound of food in the middle that would have been enough for two. I looked around the table, and everyone had a similar heaping mass.

The old imperative to clean up your plate has become a health hazard. Who could eat all that food without getting very large? Why are restaurants doing this to us? I decided it was the familiar American reliance on the adage that bigger is better. America's restaurant owners must have taken a lesson from America's carmakers: that to keep buyers coming back, you have to give them more. Don't let them go away hungry. In fact, why not give them too much? That way they'll be sure they've had enough.

When it comes to cars, we know what this approach has done. In order for car buyers to be sure they have a car that's good enough, they buy a car that is more than anyone could possibly need. That's why we have SUVs as big as the space shuttle. There's one called the Expedition. Smaller cars are little more than speed bumps to this monster.

The logic of Detroit is familiar. Anytime a new car model is introduced, it must be improved each year in order to draw buyers. Improving it usually means adding new gadgets and making it larger. Gradual bloat seems to be built into the system.

A friend of mine refers to a particular style of yuppie mansion as an SUV house. These are the oversized, overbuilt, new houses you see here and there in Vermont, dominating ridgelines and commandeering views. This kind of house gives everything a dimension beyond what it needs to have. Entry halls reach sky high. Kitchens become wide-open spaces. Again, it's a case of giving people more than they need so they're sure they have enough.

It's hard to know how to counter this tendency to bigness except for people to have an idea of what they want not dictated by the marketplace. It's possible to decide on your own that a smaller, more efficient car is all you need. Or a cozy, unpretentious house. Or a helping of food that doesn't choke a horse.

America's economy might go into a tailspin if the American love of excess were trimmed out. So I don't know what the solution is. But for the time being, please don't ask me to clean up my plate.

This is David Moats from Middlebury.

David Moats is the editorial page editor for the Rutland Herald and winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

comments powered by Disqus
Supported By
Become an Underwriter | Find an Underwiter