The world is full of lies, and it’s hard to get through life without taking a few on board. Luckily, we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction, and find the plankton of truth in the ocean of bullshit. This week: the munchies! What was the name of Harold and Kumar’s movie? And is eating a Pop-Tart misusing it?
Lie #1: The Best Movie About the Munchies Is Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
It’s fucking brilliant, but that statement is only true in the U.S. — in Europe, Australia and pretty much everywhere that isn’t the U.S., it was released as Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies, an unquestionably shittier title but one that apparently seemed to make more sense, as nobody outside of America knows what White Castle is. White Castle has had branches in Mexico and Southeast Asia in the past, but currently only has branches in the U.S. — predominantly in the Midwest, plus a few in Las Vegas and New York.
White Castle is, insanely, coming up to its 100th year. It was founded in 1921 in Wichita, and pretty much kick-started the whole fast-food thing, the industrial kitchen where you know exactly what you’re getting. As The Economist writes, when it came to the burger, White Castle “standardized its production, cooking dozens of pre-weighed, pre-shaped burgers at once on a dedicated griddle, and serving them on specially designed buns. The friendly grillman in a white paper hat, amicably chatting with the customers as he formed meat into a patty and slapped it onto the grill next to cheese sandwiches and omelettes, gave way to the kitchen as assembly line, and the cook as infinitely replaceable technician.”
Interestingly, another brand was set to feature alongside White Castle in Harold and Kumar’s story. The characters’ neighbors, Rosenberg and Goldstein, go on a parallel quest in the movie to find Hot Dog Heaven. This was initially written as Krispy Kreme, but the donut giants pulled out right before filming began. White Castle themselves were delighted to be in the film, with their head of marketing saying: “There was something authentic in the way the script described how people feel about our distinctive taste and the lengths they’ll go to. The story is about a heroic quest — while we might not endorse some of the behaviors, we approve of the spirit of the film: There are a lot of good messages in it.”
One of those messages: Everyone poos!
Lie #2: Hur Hur Hur, Shaggy From Scooby Doo Has the Munchies, Man
About a third of working stand-ups in the 1990s (as well as The Office’s David Brent) seemed to do routines about Shaggy from Scooby-Doo smoking pot. It’s fair enough really — he is permanently hungry, has a raspy voice and gave his dog the middle name “Doobie.” It’s enough of a thing that the 2002 live-action movie leant into it, with Shaggy and Scooby introduced in a cloud of smoke (that turns out to be from a barbecue) and Shaggy’s love interest sporting the name Mary Jane, prompting him to rasp, “Like, that’s my favorite name!”
However, the show’s co-creators, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, weren’t fans of drugs, and were upset when their characters became the subject of reasonably lazy weed gags. Iwao Takamoto, who designed the Scooby-Doo characters for Ruby and Spears, stated in his posthumously-published memoir My Life With A Thousand Characters that there were categorically no drug references in the show, and that even if they had wanted to put any in — which they didn’t — no kids’ show in the 1960s would risk such a thing.
Rather, Ruby and Spears based Shaggy on the character Maynard G. Krebs from the sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, played by Bob Denver (later best known as Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island). Krebs was a beatnik rather than a hippie — Dobie Gillis ran from 1959 to 1963, predating widespread hippiedom by a good few years. Beatniks loved weed too, of course, but were arguably more associated with heroin and benzedrine.
Not only are neither of those drugs associated with an increased appetite, it would have been a very different cartoon if, between hijinks, Shaggy had tied a belt around his arm and smacked his elbow to find a vein. Scooby-Don’t, more like!!!
Lie #3: Pop-Tarts Make Ideal Munchies
While they’re pretty popular, according to Pop-Tarts themselves, if you’re eating them, you’re doing it wrong. The official Twitter account tweeted, “I like my Pop-Tarts where I like my money. Right in my fanny.”
The word ‘pack’ should clearly be there, right? Even with the image, there is no way whatsoever that more people read that and think of a belted wallet than think of some sort of bodily orifice.
Which orifice you’d be keeping your Pop-Tarts in if following Kellogg’s advice depends on where you’re from — while in the U.S., “fanny” is a childlike term for the bottom, in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand it refers to the vulva. The opening titles to the Fran Drescher sitcom The Nanny, referring to the lead character being “out on her fanny,” raised more than a few eyebrows outside of the States.
Lie #4: Weed is the Drug That Gives You the Munchies
It’s one of them. Antipsychotics have been found to do it as well, with schizophrenia sufferers prescribed olanzapine frequently gaining weight, as the drug has similar effects on the endocannabinoid system as weed.
(The endocannabinoid system is a communication network within your brain and body that can affect things like emotions, memory, reaction time and, yes, appetite. Your body produces natural cannabinoids which regulate this system, until you throw something like THC into the mix and the balance gets all thrown off. The hope is that increased research into the system will one day allow for more targeted treatments, like pain management and specifically reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.)
Schizophrenics are up to three times more likely than the general population to get type-2 diabetes — however, in an unfair twist, this is true whether they’re being treated or not. Poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle can be results of untreated schizophrenia, while treating it (with antipsychotics at least) can lead to a dramatically increased appetite.
Moreover, a 2019 study from Michigan State University found that cannabis smokers weighed, on average, less than non-smokers. One theory put forward by the researchers was that smokers prone to high-as-balls bingeing on junk food might be more sensible with what they ate the rest of the time.
Lie #5: That Shitty Candy Doesn’t Even Taste Good, You’re Just High
It does taste good, because you’re high. A study from the Monell Chemical Senses Center concluded that, as well as making you hungry, stimulating endogenous cannabinoids makes food taste better, particularly sweet foods.
“Endocannabinoids both act in the brain to increase appetite and also modulate taste receptors on the tongue to increase the response to sweets,” said study senior author Yuzo Ninomiya, professor of oral neuroscience in the Graduate School of Dental Sciences at Kyushu University in Japan.
A 2019 study from the University of Connecticut looked at junk food sales following cannabis legalization, and found significant increases in the sale of cookies, chips and ice cream in the months immediately after recreational weed became above-board. While ice cream and chip sales leveled off, cookie sales remained high — as did the people eating them. Duuuuuude, etc.