This was my April Fool post from 2004.
Have you ever noticed how it is impossible to avoid dill pickle in America? No matter what food you order, you seem to get dill pickle with it. What is more, no one will ever talk about it. If you order a burger in a restaurant you get dill pickle on the side, even though there is no mention of it in the menu. If you go to a sandwich bar such as Togo’s they will ask you if you want “everything” on it. When you ask what “everything” means they go through a whole list of things from lettuce to olives and chilis. They never once mention dill pickle, but it appears in your sandwich just the same. I have even tried deliberately saying “no pickle, please” to the server. It was in a Noah’s Bagels store in Berkeley. The guy looked at me as if I was crazy, and I got pickle in the sandwich anyway.
There has to be a reason for this. Why is it that Americans eat so much dill pickle? And why is it that they seem unaware that they are doing so? Inspired by Kathryn Cramer’s magnificent investigation of the Zimbabwe mercenaries incident, I decided to do some digging of my own. The results are truly astonishing and strike at the very heart of American society. My advice to you is to download a copy of this article now. I can’t see the US government allowing it to remain online for long.
It all begins, as most things do in America, with corn syrup. Just as the EU farm subsidies result in lakes of wine and mountains of butter, so the USA has a corn syrup lake. Or at least it would if the Americans believed in that sort of thing. Not wishing to be compared to a bunch of wine-guzzling, garlic-eating surrender monkeys, the Department of Agriculture long ago decided to force Americans to consume all of the corn syrup that the country produces.
The result of this policy is that American citizens began to ingest an enormous amount of sugar. This report from 1999 reveals a 28% increase in sugar consumption since 1983. Most of this sugar came in the form of corn syrup, and most of it was consumed in the form of soft drinks, although sugars are added to almost everything. The report estimates that Americans were eating at least twice as much sugar as their bodies could reasonably cope with.
If that were not bad enough, scientific research soon began to suggest that the high fructose content of corn syrup is much more fattening than traditional sugar, which is sucrose-based. See this article for example. Naturally US government scientists were drafted in to dismiss these fears, in much the same way as they are being used to deny the existence of global warming. However, public concern over the issue led to a rise in the consumption of diet soft drinks in preference to the corn syrup-flavored varieties. Meanwhile, as the above article explains, production of corn syrup was increasing rapidly. What farmer could not resist the promised handouts? The Department of Agriculture was in a right pickle. And it was therefore to pickles that they turned for the solution.
At this point a new player enters the story. The Cucumber Institute of America is a shadowy trade organization with a strong lobby presence in Washington and close links to the military-industrial complex. It persuaded the Department of Agriculture that the smart way to persuade Americans to eat corn syrup was not to use it as a sweetener, but to disguise it in a product that contains a lot of vinegar. That way the public would not know what they were eating. As a result the Institute was given a $10bn grant to create a program that would channel vast quantities of corn syrup into dill pickles.
This program was very successful under the Clinton administration. The President was very fond of dill pickles as they reminded him of his favorite hobby. He even went so far as to suggest an advertising campaign featuring pretty young women lasciviously consuming pickles, but apparently the suggestion was vetoed by his wife. Unfortunately, by the end of the Clinton era, public health activists had begun to get wise to the new tactic. Newspapers began to run scare stories about people suffering from dill pickle cravings. In the Weekly World News, Bat Boy was quoted as saying that he never ate dill pickles because they gave him gas. Priscilla Presley issued a press statement denying that Elvis had ever eaten a dill pickle. Something needed to be done; otherwise the USDA’s strategy would be in tatters.
When George W. Bush became President the Cucumber Institute turned for help to a long-time ally, Dick Cheney. What they needed, they told him, was a means of persuading Americans to eat dill pickles without realizing that they were doing so. At the time Cheney was doing research into reviving the Star Wars missile defense project. He took the problem to his science advisors, one of whom remembered reading a science book by a man called Dick that featured Orbital Mind Control Lasers. This resulted in the Vice President making all sorts of tasteless puns about dill pickles, his own name, that of the mysterious Mr. Dick and parts of the ex-President’s anatomy. More importantly it also resulted in a plan.
Project VALIS, as it came to be known, involved the subversion of Department of Defense and NASA projects to allow Cucumber Institute scientists to smuggle mind control devices onto military satellites. By mid 2002 the system was in place and broadcasting. A similar subversion program aimed at the Department of Health saw receptor devices implanted in the brains of millions of Americans under the guise of inoculating them against Communist subversion. Before long, restaurant staff and mothers across America were adding dill pickle to meals without ever being aware that they were doing so.
(According the a Berkeley-based civil rights group, the Discordian Society, the medical program was run by the American Medical Association, a well known front for the Bavarian Illuminati. Knowing the Discordians, this means that the allegation is almost certainly not true but is instead a cover for a much deeper conspiracy involving Area 51, giant squid, Ken MacLeod and the New York Yankees’ domination of Major League Baseball.)
All would have been well apart from one small problem. The Department of Agriculture had been infiltrated by an Iraqi spy by the name of Mohammed Aziz. Consequently, details of the plan were leaked to Baghdad. Saddam Hussain immediately saw an opportunity for blackmail and contacted President Bush. The rest, as they say, is history…