Steak, or caramel-covered grasshoppers?

John Taylor: March 10, 20080 Comments

This is what ticked me off. Marketers are reviving the icon of Speedy Alka-Seltzer, the old water-bubbling stomach tonic made famous decades ago with such slogans as " Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is ... I can't believe I ate the whole things ... Try it, you'll like it."

This time the target audience is overindulgent men in their 20s and 30s, the New York Times reports. The slogan: "Good times. Speedy Alka-Seltzer is there."  But here's how the talking tablet launched its spiel in one ad: "Drool is nature's way of saying 'Have the 32 oz. porterhouse.' " 

So, gluttony and drunkenness were stuck in my mind, not quite my previous image of Speedy. Of course, these days he has Nexium and other sorts of competitors.

Contrasts were supplied by two other stories in other NYTimes editions, like the headline on this one: "Man bites insect. The case for entomophagy." Bottom line: top-notch eateries are serving appetizers like Singapore-style scorpions and Giant Thai water bugs.

In general, bugs are better than livestock in proteins and fatty acids, the story said, as well as minerals and vitamins. Says Rhode Island teacher David Gracer, while chomping on a burnt-caramel-covered grasshopper: "Insects can feed the world. Cows and pigs are the S.U.V.'s; bugs are the bicycles."

Nice. Revolted and encouraged at the same time. Before you say "enough's enough," here's another story that points out that the world is now consuming more than farmers can produce, as food costs go the way of gasoline prices.

Says Daniel Basse of a Chicago consulting company: "Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe. But if they do, we're going to need another two or three globes to grow it all."

So .... Give a man a loaf of bread, and he'll expect Philly cheesesteak slapped on it (with Speedy near at hand). ... Give him an artfully cooked bug, and he may stay healthy enough to save the planet.

Hard to swallow? Did you see where they're finding anti-depressants and birth-control pill residues in public water supplies?