The "Heart Attack Grill": Destroying Hearts

Last Monday (12th February) saw the occurrence of an event which can be described in no other way than ‘ironic’, in which an unofficial spokesman for Las Vegas’ ‘Heart Attack Grill’ died of a heart attack.

John Alleman, aged 52 was an obsessive customer at the Grill, making daily visits to the notoriously calorific restaurant. His infatuation was such that he voluntarily acted as a mascot for the grill, dressing up as a hospital patient in order to entice customers to sample the record winning, fattening food. This caricature of ‘patient John’ was so successful that it even became part of the restaurant’s marketing campaign; such was the effect that it seems to have tempted fate, leaving John himself on a hospital bed taken off life support in the early hours of the Monday morning.

Yet Alleman’s death is far from a coincidence. The hospital themed restaurant itself contains a satirical health warning, with waitresses dressed as nurses who serve on customers dressed as patients and write their orders down as prescriptions. Its menu boasts ‘Flatliner Fries’ deep fried in pure lard, ‘Butter-Fat Shakes’ containing an entire stick of butter, and a Quadruple Heart Bypass burger which holds the Guinness World Record for ‘The World’s Most Calorific Burger’ packing in 9,982 calories. The word unhealthy doesn’t quite go far enough to describe such a product, with the Department of Health recommending a daily calorie intake of 1940 for women and 2550 for men. With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that a daily consumer of such food whom the owner described as ‘a regular customer who never missed a day, even on Christmas’, was victim to a fate jokingly predicted by the Grill.

However, this was not the first death linked to the Heart Attack Grill with its previous unpaid mascot dying at age 29 in 2011, which was shortly followed by a customer in his 40s who had to be hospitalised when he began sweating and shaking during his meal containing 6,000 calories. The restaurant has to come under fire for not only inducing this bad health, but for also encouraging it in their advertisements of free meals to customers who weigh in at over 160kg and desserts shaped as cigarettes. As if the message condoning unhealthy eating was not clear enough the restaurant’s website contains a satirical “Diet Program” which is ‘focused upon keeping your weight in an extremely stable, gradual, and constant upward slope’.  Despite the fire of criticism the grill is facing, the owner is reported to have no intention of taking any action, refusing to change the menu ‘as long as the public have an appetite for it’.

However, a demand for this food does certainly not imply there is a need for it. With someone dying of a heart attack every 34 seconds in the US, there is hardly a place for a restaurant which appears proud to induce such cardiovascular disease. It is not unreasonable to assume that the Heart Attack Grill, with its controversial name, food and themes, has taken bad health to a new level, which is not something which needs to be encouraged to a nation with increasing obesity levels.

One can question the morality and appropriateness of the Grill, but as long as it continues to function as a profitable organisation, nothing will change. It cannot be denied that our guilty pleasures are acceptable in moderation, yet obsessiveness only leads to obesity and health problems. We are left only with the hope that Alleman’s death sends out a strong message of moderation and a warning against excessive calorific eating.

Nevertheless, this case along with the previous incidents at the grill is evidence that no food, no matter how good it is, really isn’t worth dying for!

 

Image Credits: eater.com, au.news.yahoo.com, melissagolden.com