Adventures in Candyland: Remembering Long-Ago Loser Darlene Globe

The last tin of Christmas cookies is down to stale crumbs. The eggnog, that annual indulgence, has started to sour on the refrigerator shelf. The standing rib roasts and Yorkshire puddings and crab dip and spicy pecans are a distant memory.

There are those among you who breezed through the holidays on healthy snacks and uninterrupted exercise routines. Come January, you emerged triumphant from the seasonal gauntlet of temptation, facing the scale with jaunty confidence.

To you I would simply say: Get over yourselves. Join the rest of us out here in tight-waistband-land as we slink past plate-glass windows and dodge mirrors as though we were vampires. It’s shape-up time in Tennessee.

And what does that mean, exactly? Experience teaches that half-measures avail us nothing. We’re off to the gym at 6 a.m. At home, the cupboard is bare. It’s naked chicken breasts and dry baked potatoes on the menu for the foreseeable future. Or until the whole thing gets old, which will be any minute now.

It’s at times like these that I find myself wondering about Darlene Globe. Decades before Marie Osmond and Valerie Bertinelli emerged from their adipose cocoons on national TV, back when The Biggest Loser was just a twinkle in a network executive’s eye, Darlene was the poster girl for out-of-control eating.

Her ponderous bulk filled the top half of full-page ads in magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s. Posed in the lawn chair that would figure prominently in her testimonial, she gazed off into the middle distance like a seeker of some mysterious dietary grail.

Darlene once tipped the scales at well over 300 pounds. In the days before fast-food outlets crowded every corner, she filled up on home cooking. When the dinner table was cleared, she would repair to the kitchen for a top-up meal of Wonder Bread and bacon fat, aka bread and drippings. Clad in shapeless tents, Darlene mostly hid in the house. Her “aha” moment came at a rare social outing, when she attempted to rise from the aforementioned lawn chair only to find it firmly attached to her formidable posterior.

There wasn’t much doubt about Darlene’s problem, even once the chair was removed. The unlikely solution? Candy. Not just any old Mounds bar or bag of M&Ms, but a miracle sweet with the unfortunate name of Ayds. Chew a couple of them (chocolate or caramel) before meals and presto! Reduced appetite. Bird-sized portions. Bye-bye bread and drippings. Hello, size 10. Treadmills didn’t figure in the equation.

Darlene’s “after” picture featured her svelte in a tailored sheath, beaming as she selected a single Ayd from a frilly candy box. Like Scarlett O’Hara, it seemed that she would never be hungry again.

The Ayds ads faded with time and the appearance of newer, trendier weight-loss techniques. We learned about good carbs and set points and ketosis. We buckled on pedometers and doubled up on the low-fat yogurt. We know just about all there is to know about diet and exercise, and we’ve got the obesity epidemic to prove it.

As for Darlene Globe, history is silent. Maybe she beat the odds, and never regained that 150 pounds. Maybe she’s out there still, a slender octogenarian in a form-fitting pantsuit, springing out of lawn chairs with sprightly grace. Maybe candy is the answer, after all. It’s January. Nothing fits. What have we got to lose?

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