I’m really not old enough to remember the era when smoking cigarettes was supposed to be sexy. I’m thankful for that; my reaction to cigarettes is revulsion in varying degrees depending on proximity. I’ve always been one of those people for whom the idea of kissing a smoker is like the thought of licking out an ashtray — which is to say, retch-inducing even in the imagination.

Given that, images like this always strike me as particularly jarring:

when smoking was sexy

Sometimes I wonder: if the tobacco industry spent a century and untold billions selling the notion that people who smoke are sexier than people who don’t, why hasn’t ADM and the rest of the modern mechanized processed-foods industry managed to use its advertising billions to convince people that a physique born of corn syrup and white flour, deep fried in canola oil, is sexy? If you’ve see the people in WALL*E, you’ll know what I’m asking — why isn’t that future here now, being reinforced throughout our popular culture the way smoking was in 1950?

(Please don’t misunderstand — although I’m personally closer to the WALL*E vision than I am to the sammich-deprived fashion-industry ideal of good looks, I wouldn’t approve of the food industry winning that propaganda war any more than I approve of the way the tobacco industry won theirs for many decades. I’m just curious why they don’t seem to be fighting it, when they’ve got the deep pockets and the profit motive and the utter lack of conscience that would let ’em do it.)