—THE CHOW 13—
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RICHARD BLAKELEY AND JESSICA AMASON
Richard Blakeley was a web video editor at Gawker.com and Jessica Amason an editor for AOL’s culture blog when they launched This Is Why You’re Fat, a crowd-sourced photo blog of some of the most calorific dishes created by modern man. Burgers between doughnuts. Pancake towers with bacon mortar. Twinkies and Cheetos stadiums. A cross between a traffic accident and a supersized, laminated Denny’s menu, This Is Why You’re Fat received 7 million hits in its first month. Within the year, the pair had a book deal. (This Is Why You’re Fat came out October 27.)
The genius of the site, and probably the reason it’s been criticized for being a gratuitous time suck, is its total lack of subtext. Arch name aside, the blog was designed by Blakeley and Amason to be bare bones, with no commentary or information about themselves.
“One person might have taken a photo because they thought it was heinous and totally bad for you, another person might be proud of this creation they made,” says Amason. “We tried to be a one-stop shop for all these items, and not preach to anyone about them.”
The result is a fascinating historical document of modern America’s torturously conflicted relationship with food. We know what makes us fat, but when it comes to fried foods, bacon, melty cheese, dough, frosting, and goo, we are transfixed, done for.
Did you grow up eating the kind of stuff on your blog and in your book?
Richard: “No, I was raised by vegetarian hippies in Marin [County, California].”
Jessica: “I didn’t either. I come from a family of athletes—I was a competitive swimmer—and we were always really aware of nutrition in terms of training.”
How did you translate a user-submitted photo blog into a book?
Jessica: “We have added value with recipes and stories from creators of some of the dishes. I think another exciting thing is a lot of these people have been inspired to write their own cookbooks. They want to share their creations.”
Do you have any favorite contributions?
Richard: “I’m a sucker for the names of the stuff. One of my favorites is Sweet Peeptato Pie, which is multicolored Peeps on top of sweet potatoes.”
Jessica: “I do think the meat creations that are like feats of engineering are particularly nasty. The ship made entirely out of meat, for example.”
Richard: “It sails upon a tuna salad that they food-dyed green, with bacon sails.”