March 8, 2004

Bring On the Beans

Pat & Beans My friend, Patrick, writes the Buzz List at Excite and iWon. Not long ago he made a public vow to eat nothing but baked beans for a month if Ashton Kutcher's recent movie "The Butterfly Effect" made more than $40 million in its first 4 weeks.

Pat lost that bet, and Beanfest 2004 started March 1st. I interviewed him the night before it began about this important undertaking.

Are you regretting any of this, or looking forward to it?

I'm actually looking forward to it. The only thing I regret is having chosen baked beans as the only food item I can eat for four weeks instead of, say, Baked Alaska. I'm honestly curious how I'll do.

As an awkard pre-teen, I used to do all these stupid food dares. Self-inflicted food dares, mind you. When I was 12 or so, I accidentally dropped this huge chunk of Heath bar out of a Dairy Queen Blizzard onto a carpeted Dairy Queen floor. This was during the dead of winter, in a northern New York town, and the carpet was saturated with melted snow, dirt, and salt chunks used to melt ice on the sidewalk outside. Without hesitating, I picked up the Heath chunk - dirt, hair and salt particles attached - turned to my friend and said, "Dare me to eat it?" Just as he began to say no, I popped it into my mouth. My buddy and a DQ employee who happened to be walking by at that moment both nearly gagged. I was fine.

Do you even like baked beans?

Yeah, I love them. Growing up, the few times my father was left alone to feed my brother, sister and I while my mother was away, he always made us baked beans and franks - as the main and only dish. He'd add some molasses to them and get us all excited - to the point where I thought he was a world-class chef. Ironically, my mom was a Home Ec teacher, great cook, and put an amazing amount of work into preparing a variety of wonderful meals for her family for decades, and my dad with his limited cooking knowledge somehow convinced his kids that beans, franks and molasses were as good as it got. Sorry, Mom.

He was also the first person I saw who put ketchup/catsup on his baked beans. Genius.

Are you a gassy man in general?

No, not at all. Although, during the week leading up to this challenge, I was VERY gassy. Just putting on my game ass.

A reader of The Sneeze thinks you are going to get scurvey. (The writer of The Sneeze admits that would be entertaining.) Comments?

Did you know Magellan lost about 80% of his crew to scurvy while crossing the Pacific? If it was good enough for Magellan, it's sure as hell good enough for me.

What has been the general reaction you've gotten from people regarding this stunt?

My female friends are disgusted, my male friends think it's awesome and are rooting for me to get sick or starve, and my co-workers spent Friday dragging their desks to the far side of the office in an attempt to build bean bomb shelters.

PatDo you think you will get sick of baked beans, and if so, how long will it take?

Honestly, I think at the end of the month I'll still enjoy baked beans. The most difficult part of this challenge will not be the large volume of beans, it will be the complete and utter lack of anything else. I freakin' love snacks. Hell, my license plate says SNACKZ. But for the next four weeks, when I get a craving for chocolate, goulash, tree bark, whatever, I'm going to have to satiate it with a can of soda (which means more gas) or... baked beans. I think I'll be struggling with the no-snack issue from the very first day or two, and I don't expect it to go away.

Do you think you'll gain weight, lose weight, or remain the same?

I'll lose weight. And then plan to turn what I've learned into a best-selling, two-page diet book.

Have you put thought into what the last meal you will eat before your Beanfest begins?

I'm eating it right now, in fact. Pasta Carbonara, no mushrooms or onions. Then Girl Scout cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, donuts and macadamia nuts dipped in milk chocolate for dessert.

What are the rules as far as beverages go?

Excellent question. This is where, if I get desperate, I can cheat a little. For example, I've always considered a milkshake to be a beverage. But I think most folks would consider it dessert. Although, come March 20th or so, "most folks" won't be in my kitchen when I'm writhing in agony. They'll be out at fancy restaurants or having kinky sex with food items, a la 9-1/2 Weeks. Bastards.

I actually bumped into professional competitive eater, Crazy Legs Conti, at an NYC bar last week and told him about the challenge. He thought about it for a minute, then suggested if I got desperate that I take stuff like baked ziti, puree it, then drink it down like a beverage. Smart. But again, I think most folks would consider that cheating. Bastards.

You really don't seem to like Ashton Kutcher. Why?

For me, it was Ashton's comments early last year about he and his friends being the new Rat Pack - with Sean Combs as the Frank Sinatra of the group. It was a bit too much for me. Especially coming from the "Dude, Where's My Car?" guy.

But that's not to say I dislike Ashton - I'm actually curious what he's like when there are no cameras around. And who knows, maybe I write about him so often because I'm jealous. He's a household name, rich, a great TV dope, and - I would assume - nice smelling. I'm none of those things except a dope.

I respect Ashton for wanting to have fun with his fame. I just think he's a kid in the candy store, showing off, and all of us outside of Hollywood are the kids staring in through the window with nothing but a 5th Avenue bar in our pockets. And as you know, Steve, no one wants a 5th Avenue bar. Especially when a guy who plays a dope on TV is eating a King Size Snickers in front of us while making out with the hot chick behind the counter.

Do you have any messages you would like to pass along to Ashton?

Professionally, drop the leading male role for your next movie or two - try to do in film what you do so well on That '70s Show. Be a standout character in a strong ensemble cast.

Personally, give my best to Demi.

Do you think Beano will be involved at any point? Is that against the rules?

No Beano.

A reader of The Sneeze already referred to you in an email simply as "Bean Man." Do you have a preferred nickname? Bean Boy? B.B.? or the simple yet elegant, Beans?

I like Bean Man. Although it sounds like I drive a truck with a bell on it and sell baked beans to the neighborhood kids. "Beans" isn't bad at all. If there had been a fifth friend in Stand By Me, his name would have been Beans. And I bet Beans would have eaten that dirty chunk of Heath Bar off the Dairy Queen carpet, too.

Godspeed, Bean Man. Godspeed.

Check out Pat's Buzz List here.

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