RANGE: These sweet-seeming but deadly creatures dangle from chipped metal racks in snack bars, bodegas, truck stops, movie theater lobbies, corner candy stores, fast-food franchises, neighborhood delis, superettes, souvenir stands, luncheonettes, cafeterias, national historic sites, drugstores, and ball park concession stands. They are also found in glove compartments, on the dessert tables of summer camps, scrunched beneath the Luke Sky-walker thermos bottle in a Star Wars lunch bucket, and as “impulse items” in the vicinity of any cash register. Their bright and glamorous paper garments clutter the gutters, line the highways, and tumble out of every trash basket in the land. Devil Dogs are, curiously, never found on shopping lists, but invariably make their ways into shopping carts. They are the spirits of junk food.
HABITS: To be more precise, Devil Dogs are the shock troops of the Junk Food Army. They assault the body’s natural defense system—those rows of taste bud emplacements, which protect us against the ingestion of hardware, potting soil, and between-meal snacks. Once the Devil Dogs have knocked out this Siegfried Line of Good Taste, wave upon wave of allied synthetic chemical bud-numbers invade — cheese-food-flavored thingies, sour-cream-and-onion-dip-flavored gizmos, prefab burgers with nonbiodegradable sauces, petroleum-byproduct drumsticks, bubble-gum-flavored ice cream, peanut-butter-flavored popcorn clusters, and those nasty, mind destroying, multicolored sugar nodules known as jelly beans.
HISTORY: The Sugar Plum Fairy was an early emigre, a rich Russian brownie who thrived among the wild sugar beets of pre-colonial America. When George Washington was inaugurated, all the nearby fairies invited each other to attend—except the Sugar Plum Fairy. The attendant good spirits wished George luck and courage and truthfulness—but then the enraged and unwanted Sugar Plum Fairy appeared, cursed President George and all Americans with a sweet tooth, and set a pack of Devil Dogs upon them, to hound them forever. (As a boy, Washington, overcome with sugar-lust, ate all the cherries from a tree in his backyard. This, naturally, rotted the teeth out of his noble head, but the resourceful lad then chopped down the tree, to fashion from it the wooden false teeth for which he is famous. The rest is history.)
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Tar breath; love handles; a belt and suspenders; zits, wens, and blackheads; pitted green fangs, dilated pupils, seizures of undirected energy, furry tongue; belching; flatulence; ‘roids—if these are your symptoms, or the symptoms of someone you love, don’t be ashamed. Remember, junk food addiction is not a disease—merely the result of demonic possession by Devil Dogs. And help is as close as your nearest carrot.