Bed, Bath & Binge





Anyway, um, is this, or is this not, the worst kitchen supply store cover advertisement of all time.  Most of the time, I find it an absolute joy to browse the cook’s corner of Bed Bath & Beyond (see DAD GANSIE and my mom’s Chanukah credit card bill.) But, this cover – different story.  Now, I was only a Communications minor, but I can tell you that this ad screams of mixed messages and eating disorders. I was also a Women and Gender Studies minor.

Let’s break it down.

Top Left / Buffet Server
There’s no possible way a home cook needs this.  Who eats this much food?!?!  This is such an unnecessary purchase, unless of course, you’re serving the entire team of the WORLD CHAMPION PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at your Thanksgiving dinner.  Now, let’s talk about what’s pictured.  Yucky, soft carrots with, um, sliced onion over top.  No.  A soggy mess.  Asparagus with mustard / hollandaise over top.  No.  Asparagus is a spring vegetable and should not be promoted for Thanksgiving or other winter holidays.  And stuffed mushroom.  Well, I can’t argue.  We always serve some sort of stuffed mushroom app.  Basically, this device is a red alert for over indulging.  (Which, I’m not usually against for Tgiving, but in this ad – yes.)

Top Right / Chafing Dish
Another totally unnecessary purchase that is really just tacky looking.  And what’s inside.  Sliced turkey splashed with jarred gravy and garnished with cherries?  Guess they’re taking the fruit cue from the ritzy mags.  I still don’t buy it.  Oh, I punned!  Or wait, is that not a pun?  Whatever.  Not my strong point.

Bottom Left / 3 Step Server
So, I’m not really offended by the tiered plates.  Sure, it takes up a lot of room, but I can actually see a habitual host using this at year-round shindigs.  I know I’m always on the look out for appetizer plates.  This may be a little generic for me, but I think it’s pretty classy.   And for the desserts, I can’t guess what these clearly store bought creations are supposed to be.  I will tell you, I’m not intrigued.  Especially all the pink that’s going on.  Pink is not appetizing.  Well, this pink isn’t too bad.

Bottom Right / Bodyfat Scale
I shit you not.  A scale on the cover is bad enough, but inside it is literally labeled: Bodyfat Scale.  And, of course, there is a delicate, white woman weighing herself and the machine screams out “UH-OH.”  Yes, that is the EXACT message we should send this holiday season.  EAT AND EAT AND EAT and BUY the BIGGEST serving platters you can find and won’t ever need again (perfect for this economy!) and then after you’ve rightly enjoyed the holiday season with friends, family and food, you—a woman—should definitely feel bad about yourself and immediately weigh yourself.

Is this why America is so fat?  Where is the moderation?  Where are the people eating responsibly?  No, it’s just massive amounts of food and then shameful, fatty guilt.  Binge eating.  Bring on the scale.  Repeat.

Happy Holidays, from your neighborhood Bed, Bath & Binge.

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  • JoeHoya October 30, 2008  

    Well said, Gansie. I thought a lot of the same things when I saw this in our mailbox this week.

    They’ve got to be doing something right, though – at least they’re not going out of business like Linens N Things.

  • Leah October 30, 2008  

    OMG. I got this ad in Chicago a few days ago and I was just as disgusted as you. I literally did a double-take as I saw the “uh-oh” and the scale. Someone clearly did not think this ad through…

  • Maidelitala October 30, 2008  

    Jeebus! This ad makes me want to puke …. up the tapeworm I swallowed last week. The orange juice dipped in cotton balls I consume to avoid eating the delicious food that would register my obesity on the bodyfat scale can not fill the void in my heart. Disgusted.

  • Alison October 31, 2008  

    I’m with you too. I saw this in my mailbox and was a little flabbergasted — and I bet some media/PR flak is dealing with a lot of negative responses. The negative and unhealthy underlying message is ridiculous!

  • Very Very Good Girl October 31, 2008  

    Always ahead of the curve. I also did a double take by the addition of the scale. I’m used to subliminal advertising. And tell me why it couldn’t be a man’s hairy feet?!?!

  • Jrod November 1, 2008  

    I think the “Uh-oh” is merely due to poor weight distribution. My scale doesn’t work if I stand on it like that either. And the chafing dishes and buffet servers come in handy when your extended family has to move into the same house with you because you can’t afford the mortgage. Well done BB&B! I’ll be using that $5 off this holiday season!

  • Jrod November 1, 2008  

    Oh…. and GO PHILS!!!!

  • gansie November 1, 2008  

    how dare you have a sense of humor about this sexist and pro-obesity ad!

    world fucking champs!

  • Amy November 2, 2008  

    Hi – I found your blog from link on Feministing. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for writing about this – I got this in the mail a few days ago and was speechless!

  • emrez4985 November 2, 2008  

    i’ve gotta say I’m so thrilled to see so many people outraged by this mailer. i did a tirade in the elevator on the way up to our apartment after i received it and my neighbor kind of gave me a weird look… but i’m so glad that i wasn’t just making things up. what was BBB thinking?!?!?

  • Tom November 2, 2008  

    My GOD! To think that anyone would want to not be a fat hog. How rediculous! Eat all you want and then I’ll be glad to foot the bill for all of your weight related ailments.

  • Paige November 2, 2008  

    I got to tell you – this ad made me laugh, and I did not think it was offensive in the least. My aunt in particular would 100% buy all of those chafing dishes and buffet servers. She throws parties all the time during this time of year and those would be perfect.

    And even as a vegetarian, I wince getting on the scale after Thanksgiving, and I know that I don’t eat nearly as much as the omnis do. None of that holiday food is good for you. Even the veggie stuff is laden with fat, cholesterol, sodium and enough sugar to choke a horse.

    I though the “Oh no!” part of the scale was a very thoughtful way of making sure they didn’t say what weight was unacceptable.

    Also, asparagus is available all year round, and I pack them into my freezer, so I don’t know what the problem is with cooking a food at a different time of year. That’s one think I LOVE about living in the US. You aren’t stuck with potatoes, onions and carrots through the winter – there’s variety.

  • Sara Anderson November 2, 2008  

    I smell moral panic over obesity here – the serving equipment is pretty obviously supposed to be used for entertaining (which people do a lot of over the holidays, duh). You don’t have to eat twenty servings of dessert to be technically obese.

  • dani November 3, 2008  

    linked from feministing. i’m so glad you posted this! my jaw literally dropped when i pulled this out of the newspaper this morning.

  • Hannah November 3, 2008  

    Oh god D: I was in a hotel room in Vegas over the weekend and the weighing scale on there literally said “THINNER” on it, like it was the brand name or something. To top it off it most definitely was calibrated wrong to measure you15+ pounds heavier than you are. UGH

  • Jess November 3, 2008  

    Asparagus out of season tastes like crap and is flown in from South America. Yes, those extra pounds are much worse than wasting our diminishing resources just to eat out of season food.

  • Michelle November 3, 2008  

    I have to agree with Paige on this one. I didn’t think this advert was in the least bit offensive when I saw it in my mail few days ago. I can see where the skinny legs in the image could be a little …confusing, but really, what would the reaction be like if they where obviously overweight legs?
    And the food thats in the serving dishes was probably just picked because it photographed well. My mother makes a wonderful tasting holiday dish; unfortunately its not the most aesthetically pleasing dish and would not make a good photo-compliment for an advertisement selling dishware!
    Its just a holiday ad thats pokes fun at what a lot of us go through during the holiday season, no need to get all up in arms about it.
    There are a lot more important issues going on in the world to focus on…

  • Melissa November 3, 2008  

    And why is it that the woman (the thin white woman) on the scale is all tiptoeing the scale? Her feet not planted firmly on the scale…because we wouldn’t want her to be grounded with her feet down, now would we? She must be timid and light as a feather. Wouldn’t want her to look secure or anything.

  • Maidelitala November 3, 2008  

    I think your critique and the subsequent link to it from feministing (congrats! one of my fave sites!) has attracted some very thoughtful people, but also at least one BBB PR/advert troll to the website, Gansie…. Just saying…..

  • Christina Stroz November 3, 2008  

    I fail to see how this promotes eating disorders. How about we take responsibility for our actions instead of blaming advertising? It’s just a scale.

  • Jodi November 3, 2008  

    Great critique, and poor choice of ad on their part.

  • Yvo November 3, 2008  

    Haha someone already said it but I picked up the BBB catalog, was examining the front and thinking “As fun as that looks, I don’t have room or need for a chafing dish…” and then I saw the scale and burst out laughing. I was half hoping you were being seriously sarcastic and thought it was funny yourself but the comments make me think perhaps you were serious about this ad being ridiculous (well, it is, but it’s also funny). BTW, my ankles could look like that (I have ridiculous skinny-woman forearms and my ankles/feet are skinny-woman looking too), but I’m classified in the overweight category. I still thought this was a hysterical ad.

    BTW, to the woman who seems to be making a joke about the scale calibrated 15+ lbs heavy – Thinner is actually a brand of scale. Unless you’re joking about that too?

  • Paige November 9, 2008  

    Jess: I have lived in a country where there was nothing (and I mean nothing) available at the market other than potatoes, onions and carrots from October until May. Until you do the same, I suggest you reevaluate your condemnation. You also buy food out of season. Everyone does, and it’s a freaking godsend.

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