Monday, January 26, 2004

The Oh, For God's Sake Quiz:
Where's the Beef?

So you think McDonald's French fries and Jude Law's boudoir are the only places you'll find hidden beef? Think again. When Mickey D's got outted for including beef in its fries (after patting itself on the back years earlier for switching from lard to vegetable oil), many vegetarians, Hindus, and people who just don't like being tricked got a little pissed off. But according to the Los Angeles Times, beef is everywhere. Rendered cattle parts -- including brains, spines, and other potentially maddening tissue -- are routinely recycled into a variety of everyday products. In a January 4 article, Times writer Stephanie Simon explained that enterprising American capitalists render cattle parts -- entire carcasses in most cases -- into edible fats, flavorings, thickeners, and all manner of items you probably consume unwittingly all the time. You stout-testicled Texans out there might not care. But for the rest of you: Guess which of the following items said "moo" in a former incarnation. The answers appear below.

1. Marshmallows
2. Velcro
3. Breakfast cereal bars
4. Salad-bar sneezeguards
5. Lipstick
6. Sponges
7. Hand lotion
8. The Sears Craftsman 9-piece Socket Set, 6 pt. Metric with Bonus Ratchet
9. Gelatin
10. Jay Leno's chin's shadow's je ne sais quoi
11. Garden fertilizers
12. Viagra
13. Tires
14. Botox
15. Yogurt
16. Compassionate conservatism
17. Breath mints
18. Tattoo ink
19. Dietary supplements
20. That stuff that makes Post-it Notes stick, but not forever
21. Gel-caps
22. Smiley Face, the Wal*Mart spokes-emoticon
23. Gummy candy
24. Tommy Hilfiger cologne
25. Canned vegetable soup
26. Communion wafers
27. Cake frosting
28. The Segway human transporter
29. Canned ham
30. Urinal cakes
31. Sour cream
32. Martin Short's "Jiminy Glick" face jowls
33. Lozenges
34. Dick Cheney's snarl's ennui
35. Crayons
36. America's soul, since 1903
37. Cosmetics
38. The collective conscience of the beef industry, corporate fast-food chains, television advertising executives, Agriculture Secretary Anne Veneman, the lawyers for the beef barons who went after Oprah, and that weird guy who sits on that bus-stop bench after dark outside the White Castle playing pocket pool, his eyes fixed on infinity, his mind focused on steamy, oniony buns and just the right amount of ketchup, pooled and slightly dry in a way that doesn't really look like blood but somehow reminds you of it anyway.
39. Fabric softener
40. The bra cups on your old girlfriend, Patty O'Boeuf

Incredibly, all of the odd-numbered items are often made from or contain parts of rendered cattle. Yup. Marshmallows. Yogurt. Gel-caps. Throat lozenges. Breath mints. Lipstick. Canned ham? Yes, canned ham.

The even-numbered items probably do too, but were not specifically mentioned by the Times article. Number 34 is not only beef-free but also might well be the name of a rock band.

[Note: Stephanie Simon's excellent Los Angeles Times article was widely reprinted and is available all over the Web. Because of the LA Times' obnoxious policy of charging for archival material, read it on the Seattle Times' site instead.]