Why do diet commercials often feature women eating extremely old things?

I believe they’re Lean Cuisine commercials - if not, they’re commercials for some sort of “TV Dinner”-style diet food.

For years and years, these commercials have followed the same formula - several woman congregate in the work breakroom, or the gym, or some other communal area, and “confess” what they had for dinner last night. One woman always confesses to gorging on something - “I ate 37 mini dougnuts” or “I ate from the late-night drive-through!,” the next woman confesses to something equally offensive or diet-breaking, and so on. Finally, the “punchline” is that the final woman lists something that sounds unbelievably gourmet - “I had a braised chicken breast with plum wine sauce and rice pilaf” - only to explain with, “don’t worry, it was Lean Cuisine!”

By now, you surely know what I’m talking about. Anyway, here’s my question - in all of these commercials, for years and years, one of the women confesses to eating something old or stale. Usually, it’s delievered with a pun - “I ate a taco from the jurassic period” or “I ate an ancient ____.”


What am I missing? Why would anyone eat something inappropriately old or stale? Not only that, but how on earth would this be considered an indulgence, or “naughty?” What am I missing?

It isn’t meant to be an indulgence, it just means she’s not taking very good care of herself - just eating whatever crap (fattening) thing she can scrounge out of the back of the fridge instead of conscientiously getting herself to the supermarket and stocking up on expensive, low-calorie but exotic sounding sodium-laden frozen dinnerlets.

I ate my weight in gouda.

I thought the commercials usually went the other way. The women described terrible stuff to eat, then the weight watchers woman eats something scrumptious. . .

“I ate a rice cake with a slice of cucumber.”

“I ate a piece of lettuce and half a cracker.”

“I ate lemon chicken with roasted vegetables.”

I don’t know what commercial you’re talking about where they eat some very old, but it kind of fits in with all of them eating something disgusting.

I think it’s meant to impy that the woman felt so desperate and hungry on her diet that she resorted to eating the first crap she could get her hands on.

Like if I say I wound up digging a old box of doughnuts out of the break room trashcan, the implication would be that I was starving.


Another take it on is the “I’m so way busier/stressed/important than you are” game.

The women who work 80 hours a week and pray/exercise/meditate daily and read to the blind in between volunteering at the orphanage just don’t have the time to cook for themselves on top of everything else, see? So lemon chicken girl sounds like she’s some sort of selfish bourgeoise twat since she had real food, hence the quick apology/explanation that it’s just a diet tv dinner anyway.

Because it worked so well for Anna Nicole Smith?

It’s just commercial shorthand. Like the way they show how expensive car repairs are by having the mechanic in greasy overalls, hat on askew, chewing a cigar, laughing maniacally as the guy with the sad look on his face keeps handing him bills as the mechanic waves “keep it coming” as though there was no price agreed to in advance.