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For Science: Last Night Morgan Spurlock Saved My Life

By  · Published on February 8th, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following experiment was conducted by two morons who think it’s fun and cool to do very harmful things to their bodies in the name of entertaining journalism. We recommend that you never try this yourself. In fact, just eat your vegetables kids, your life will be so much easier that way…

In the year of our lord, 1996, pop culture commentator and writer extraordinaire Chuck Klosterman ate nothing but McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets for a week. He would later go on to chronicle this feat in an Esquire article about a man who made a name for himself eating McDonald’s for an entire month for the purposes of making a film. That film was Super Size Me, and that man was Morgan Spurlock. For 30 days in 2003, Morgan Spurlock – then unknown – ate an entire diet of McDonald’s menu items. If it wasn’t on the McDonald’s menu, he couldn’t eat it. And the results were dramatic, making for the fascinating documentary that would propel Spurlock into the national spotlight.

Somewhere in between Klosterman’s nugget frenzy and the 30-day binge of Spurlock, I was an average American teenager, just struggling to get from grade 6 to grade 12. A child of working parents and a product of a town (North Olmsted, Ohio) in which just about every fast food restaurant you could think of resided, I made my way through this period of my life as what you might call “chubby.” The surgeon general might call it overweight. I grew to love fast food. A quick stop at McDonald’s for breakfast before school, a slice of Pizza Hut pizza from the school cafeteria, and a snack at Wendy’s on the way home. It was all within walking distance, all within reach of my eager hands. And more importantly, all cheap. Even though my darling mother would always tell me that “Biggie Sized will make you Biggie Sized,” (a favorite anecdote of hers), I would always choose the easy way – though the drive through. Combine that sort of behavior with years of kinda-sorta exercising and you get me, a guy who would eventually go on to co-found a nationally syndicated movie review show called ‘Fat Guys at the Movies.’ It’s a decidedly American story.

Fast forward to 2010. I’m still plenty overweight, and still deeply in love with grease pits. I’ve moved on to Texas, where everything is queso-injected and fried twice just for good measure. And despite my best attempts to stay conscious of my health so as not to die before I can father illegitimate children, I still can’t say no to a late-nite run to Whataburger or my first love, Wendy’s. And this addiction came to a head when I heard a radio commercial for McDonald’s: Super Bowl weekend, here in Texas, McDonald’s sells a limited time offer of 50 Chicken McNuggets for only $10. I’m sure this is meant to be shared by many people, but I felt a challenge coming on. A perfect fit for my new column, For Science.

The experiment was simple. Seeing as I had never actually seen Super Size Me (a fact considered criminal in its own right) and that I had never tried to consume such a massive amount of fat-battered psuedo chicken, I would do them at the same time. So I enlisted the help of Dr. Cole Abaius, because one should never eat nuggets alone, and the game was afoot.

First the rules:

  1. We had to eat not just nuggets, but a full meal: 50 Chicken McNuggets, a large order of french fries, a large soda (diet was legal), and for dessert, a large milkshake. And one of each kind of dipping sauce on the menu (there are 8 of them).
  2. The entire meal had to be consumed within the 1:39 run time of Super Size Me.
  3. We could not die. That’s no way out.

With rules in mind and appetites in tow, we took off for our local McDonald’s, which was conveniently located about a block away from Reject HQ. We picked up our food and headed back, ready to consume what we would later learn was 4,530 calories of food, almost twice the recommended daily amount for an adult human being. Not to mention 205g of fat and 8,070mg of Sodium. For the record, the USDA recommends that you only consume 65g of fat and 2,400mg of sodium in a day.

And so the challenge began. On screen, Morgan Spurlock was introducing his own experiment and biting into his first Big Mac. Off screen, the good Doctor (whose doctoring would not come in handy for what was to come) were gleefully digging into the mountains of McNuggets that laid before us. In an attempt to be scientific, I logged several journal entries throughout the run of the film. Below are some of those entries, marked by the timestamp of Super Size Me:

15:00 – About half way through my 50-piece, and I’m feeling alright. I’m moving far more quickly than Dr. Abaius, but this could prove hazardous later. It begs the question: should I slow down, or continue to just plow through this pile of whiteish meat? I decide to plow on as Morgan Spurlock explains the lawsuits being brought upon the fast food corporations by fat teenage girls. Don’t tell me that these kids didn’t know any better… We all know this stuff is bad for you. I expect to be dead in an hour.

22:00 — Morgan Spurlock just ate a Super Sized value meal on day three, followed by a round of puking. My nuggets are starting to cool off. I still don’t feel like puking, but the look on Dr. Abaius’ face is telling a much different story. He may be eating slowly, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling it.

27:00–8 nuggets left. How I got this far, this fast, is for only a higher power to know. I can feel my heart beating harder. Not faster, just harder. As if someone has poured dirty motor oil over it and challenged it to still feed blood to my 6’2″ frame. I’ve also begun sweating.

33:00 — Just as my last nugget is down the hatch, Morgan Spurlock is speaking of feeling pressure in his chest. As if someone had put 30lbs. of free weights on his sternum. Oddly enough, I feel the same. Also, when he speaks of being a little depressed, I know what he means.

49:00 — I can feel my heart beating in the top of my head. It hates me, as does the rest of my body. Morgan Spurlock probably hates me as well. Fuck that guy.

57:00 – Morgan is in Texas, home to 4 of the top 10 fattest cities in the United States. I have no idea where I am.

1:03:00 — I can feel my blood slowing down in my body. My hands feel as if they each weigh 50lbs. It is clear that my entire body knows what is happening, and is struggling to fight through the molasses to process the absurd amount of calories I’ve just ingested. I just learned something from the movie. Did you know that a calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius? I did not know that. I probably won’t remember that for later, as my mind seems to be filled with the same slow-mo goop that has inhabited the rest of my body.

1:10:00 — Ronald McDonald is the pusher… man.

1:17:00 — Just watched a gastric bypass surgery on screen. Somehow, it was more fascinating than gross. I wonder how much those cost.

1:20:00 — It appears as if Dr. Abaius has stopped eating. I would lean over and check how many nuggets he has left (somewhere in the neighborhood of 10, if his estimates are correct), but leaning over sounds beyond Herculean at this point. I’ve melted into the sofa, and I ain’t coming back to life anytime soon.

1:25:00 — Morgan Spurlock is also melted into his couch. He is a different color than when we started, as are the two imbeciles at the HQ who thought it would be a good fucking idea to eat a bunch of Chicken McNuggets in one sitting. We deserve what is coming to us.

1:39:01 — The movie has ended, and it is beyond transcendent. I had heard that Super Size Me was a good movie, but this is a damned classic if I’ve ever seen one. Morgan Spurlock is a hero for exposing the very real dangers that we all knew existed, but never really think about. Perhaps its the nuggets talking – yes, they talk now, too – but I love this movie. But I never want to watch it again, ever.

1:48:00 — The credits have finished, and no one is moving for the remote. All that is left to keep us company is the Netflix Watch Instantly home screen. All that remains is stillness. I’m frightened by my inability to write neatly on my grease-soaked notepad. I also want to do nothing. I don’t want to be sitting here. I don’t want to be moving. I don’t want to die, nor do I have interest in being alive. I would like simply to not exist.


Now that I’ve put about 12 liters of water and several miles of walking in between me and this ridiculous conquest, I can safely call this the world’s most affecting four-dimensional movie watching experience. We traveled along the exact same road as Morgan Spurlock, even if it was in a micro way. When he was happy, we were happy. When he was feeling sick, we were feeling sick. And when he had reached the end of his rope, we were right there with him. Even though he didn’t make it all the way to the finish line, I can tell that Dr. Abaius agrees. Which brings to mind an interesting query: why is it that I was able to finish (being the chubbier, less healthy of the two participants) and he was not? Was it that his healthier lifestyle prohibited his body from taking in that much junk, and that my years of experience with salt-food had conditioned my system? I believe we could safely draw that conclusion.

The most important conclusion is what I feel now, a day later. As I write this, I have no interest in ever seeing a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget again. They are disgusting little creatures sent here by an alien race to enslave our children and rape our women. And by eating them, we are simply admitting that the terrorists will eventually win. Additionally, there is the feeling of being weighed down. It is not all that unfamiliar for me, but has never been so extreme. The food we consumed had this power over us, the power to hold us down – sort of like gravity, but stronger and greasier. That’s a feeling that scares me. And a feeling I could very easily live without in my life. It has me ready to run to Amazon and pick up the book by Morgan Spurlock’s then-girlfriend (now wife) Alexandra Jamieson, called The Great American Detox Diet. I need a little detox in my life, and have needed it for a while. It isn’t any new revelation, just a more evenly pronounced one. I’ve known – as we all know – that the food I eat is bad for me. But for years, I allowed myself to simply not care. Perhaps this was the perfect experiment, brought on at the perfect time in my life by a new writing project. Perhaps now I can move forward with the knowledge of how badly I felt that night, knowing that I need to make some changes. Especially if I want to have time to play with all of those illegitimate kids.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)