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Even though it’s the day after election day, here's something going on across the nation that I think is far more interesting.
It’s the rankings for fattest state in America, the battle to see who consumes the most sugar, pork fat, gravies and otherwise delicious foods at meal time. It was compiled by Wallet Hub and you can see the full rankings here.
The winner? Mississippi, come on down, as you have easily secured the top spot. The land of deep-fried catfish, barbecue, opossum and even more deep-fried catfish is No. 1. You're not fat, as they used to say, you're just big boned. You may be No. 1, but obesity doesn't run in your family. Nobody runs in your family.
West Virginia came in second, while Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee round out the top 5. Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina were just a belt notch away from joining the XXXL club. Dead last? The state that thinks it's a good idea to eat sheep testicles and call them Rocky Mountain Oysters: Colorado at No. 51
You might look at that list of states at the top and notice a trend, and no, it’s not that they are all southern states (which they are). But I spent many decades as a sales and marketing road warrior travelling this great country, and while in those states I noticed a couple of similar situations.
For one, you won’t meet a lot of people in those states who eat kale or arugula. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but when you meet one, there’s usually a term for them: “Health nut” or “Yankee” top the list.
For another, you won’t see health clubs and exercise facilities on every street corner in these states. You will see family-run mom and pop restaurants who have weekday specials like “meat and three” or “4 hot dogs for a dollar” and you won’t have to look far to find a fresh homemade biscuit drowning in sausage gravy after 6 AM every day.
I once spent a year in Los Angeles as the president of a company in Carson, and remember more than once driving up to a restaurant at around 7 pm where there was a health club next door. The parking lot for the health club was packed. The restaurant parking lot was half full, causing me to think on more than one occasion that "California people are different."
Some of it is obviously for show. One morning I found myself driving to the plant on the 405 and was getting read to exit onto the 110. The traffic – which was never great – was particularly bad this day. When I got to work and asked why, I was told there was a 3-mile backup because they had just opened the first Krispy Kreme in that area. Up until that day, they had not experienced the true joy of making a right turn from the left-hand lane because they had just seen the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign illuminated in red.
Realizing the cultural differences, I taught them valuable secrets, such as that the optimum time to reheat a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut was between 10 and 11 seconds, depending upon their microwave. They in return educated me about the secret menu at In and Out Burger, but I feel like I did a public service while there which may help them one day move from No. 46 on the list to somewhere into the 30s.
In fact, one day I hope to return and discover a health club next to a Krispy Kreme in California. What I expect to see will be the text book definition of “tortured souls.”
One of my oldest friends has lived in Mississippi for decades, so I sent him an email with this list and the words “Put That Double Cheeseburger Down” in the subject line. He had no problem with the rankings, telling me that the unofficial state motto in Mississippi is “If it died, it’s fried.” This is also the same state where at furniture markets, several manufacturers use to buy up cans of Armour’s potted meat, change the label to say “Mississippi Road Kill,” complete with a picture of a dead opossum, and hand it out to dealers.
At least they have a sense of humor about it.
Here in Virginia, we’re a healthy lean at No. 31. I attribute that heavily to Northern Virginia, where we have a large contingent of kale-eating, vegetarian, it-is-better-to-look-good-than-eat-good, young professionals (including my daughter). Many of these young millennial professionals (like my daughter) don’t necessarily like people, so they want to live alone. When they do so, the rent is then so expensive they can’t afford food.
Hmmmmmm. You don't think that's the reason whenever I declare an evening “pizza night” at my home, my daughter comes to visit, do you?
Apparently because of franchise agreements, we also don’t have a Sonic here in Ashburn. Or a free-standing Krispy Kreme. Or all-you-can-eat places like Golden Corral or K&W Cafeterias. If you want stick-to-your-ribs goodness like grits or sausage gravy, you need to drive to Winchester. There is good barbecue, but if you want great barbecue, you have to make it yourself. And don’t get me started on how we can be only 4 hours from New York but not have a deli anywhere even as good as The New Yorker deli in Roanoke, VA.
So we’ll probably never make the top 25. But at least we’re within driving distance of No. 2 West Virginia.
Which may explain why John Denver called it “almost heaven” ????