Monday, June 29, 2009

The white-gloved one

Yesterday, I made Annie's Cheeseburger Macaroni. It's like the organic version of Hamburger Helper, which I have flatly refused to make due to its sheer grossness. I just won't do it. When the two ingredients you need to complete a dish are ground beef and milk, the likelihood of barfing is just too high.

The Cheeseburger Macaroni was not good. I replaced whole milk with skim, which made everything watery. The milk solids separated out, creating a very fine cottage cheese-like consistency. Put that together with ground beef and flavor powder and it pretty much is barf. No need to ingest it first.

My pseudo-Helper was missing something, and it could have been the chemicals, but I suspect it was The Hand. The helpful, practical Hand must possess some sort of magical culinary power, because what else could account for the huge popularity of Cheesy Jambalaya Helper, or the newest offspring of the Helper family, Mongolian-style Beef? Mmmm.

I used to work for the ad agency that had the Hamburger Helper account. Being asked to work on Helper was like being sentenced to a lifetime of humiliation because it meant you had to write scripts for The Hand. You had to have conversations like, "The Hand would never say that because his wit is more understated, like Will Rogers." You had to pretend he had a personality and that he stood for things, namely the common man. It was the ultimate embarrassment, and I'm pretty sure I was never asked to work on it because I had already endured the ultimate workplace embarrassment at age 16 - working in the men's underwear department at Dillard's department store in Dallas.

The account guy on Hamburger Helper had an actual working model of The Hand in his desk drawer. I found it impossible to not pick up The Hand and fold down the two outer fingers so it was flipping everyone off. My account guy friend apparently was offended by this because as we were talking, he'd quietly put the fingers back in their original, helpful position.

So now I'm feeling compelled to try it, if only to do a side-by-side comparison with Annie's. Something will come to light, I'm sure. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, and Hamburger Helper will take a place on the shelf next to the Mac n Cheese. Maybe I'll be proven right, and spend a night becoming intimate with the inside of the toilet. Either way, I'll let you know.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Wendy. I worked with the Hand on one occasion, a spot for the introduction of Meat Loaf. It started out all Rineylike, with reverent music: Mom, Dad and the children sitting down to a family meal. The voiceover, a Riney ripoff, intoning "Families are sitting down to dinner again. All together. As a group. Actually at the table. Why?" At that point, the Hand jumped up on the table and screamed "PASS THE MEATLOAF! AND HOW 'BOUT A PLATE?" That was his only line, so the rest worked out well if not fairly funny. Anyway, for my efforts I was given the box, enshrined in plexiglass (I bet you have a few of those) and a Hand radio. I placed black masking tape over the mouth and I still have the little guy, smiling his little black smile, unable to speak for the remainder of eternity. I made Cheeseburger Mac last week. It turns out edible if you use just half the cheese mixture, and instead of 1 cup of water and 2 cups milk, use just 1 cup of water and a cup of plain yogurt. Load up with extra pasta, and use less meat. At this point, why bother, but I liked it. Ever helpfully, Christine