It’s safe to say that food trends are getting progressively weirder. In the last twelve months, we have had to deal with zombie frappuccinos, unicorn cheese and avocado proposals. It’s no wonder that the rest of the world finds millennials so irritating.
Fortunately, wherever there is something smug and pretentious, there usually follows someone willing to take the piss. Food is no exception. Whilst people seem to be willing to give ridiculous eating ideas more leeway than most stupid suggestions, everyone has their line. For artist Doug Bevans, that line was health foods.
Confronted by the confusing collection of bogus marketing and health assertions that have swamped the industry in recent years, Bevans began to wonder about why we’re all so willing to believe weird claims. It seemed to him that all it took for a product to become an overnight success was for somewhat to slap on a few buzzwords about antioxidants and electrolytes and you’ll have queues of trendy influencers gagging to try it. He decided to put this theory to the test.
Setting up a stall and calling in a few friendly favours, the Canadian-based artist set off to an event in Vancouver. Pulling up to the Car-Free Day Festival, Bevans began conducting one of the most elaborate and arguably successful stunts in food fair history.
His stand, complete with pro-health messages and persuasive sounding dietary advice, specialised in selling hot dog water. Test tubes filled with watery weiners were lined up for punters, alongside microscopes and lab coats. To the side, a man in an extremely serious hot dog onesie patrolled constantly.
Plastered all over Bevans’ stand were messages proclaiming the positive effects of drinking what was 100% bonafide hot dog water. The stand claimed that the water would help drinkers lose weight, look younger and increase their brain function and overall vitality. Testimonials from health “professionals”, such as the suspiciously named Cynthia Dringus, added extra heft to the claims.
Bevans himself conducted a live interview with Global News from the event, arguing that, “The protein of the Hot Dog Water helps your body uptake the water content, and the sodium and all the things you'd need post-workout. We've created a recipe, having a lot of people put a lot of effort into research and a lot of people with backgrounds in science creating the best version of Hot Dog Water that we could."
With so many benefits, $38 seems like an absolute steal.
You might think that no one in their right mind would possibly pay such a ludicrous amount of money for salty slurry from the back of a hot dog machine, but incredibly people began to cough up. Though many twigged that Bevans’ plan was a joke, many more were happy to hand over their hard earned cash. Before long, the festival was full of guests drinking tubes of sausage fluid.
When the dust had settled, the results of Bevans’ experiment made for some incredible reading. Nearly 60 litres of hot dog water had been drunk, and the stall had taken over $1200 in cash. In addition to the test tubes, the team had also managed to flog hot dog lip balm, deodorant and lip spray. All this, despite warnings on the packet, telling buyers that "Hot Dog Water in its absurdity hopes to encourage critical thinking related to product marketing and the significant role it can play in our purchasing choices."
With so many people eager to live as healthily as possible, the market is ripe for exploitation. If nothing else, Bevans’ experiment shows that it pays to be extra careful when doing your shopping - particularly when something looks and sounds more impressive than it has any right to be. Else you might end up drinking something that normally belongs down the drain.