During a break from work today, I read another great article on my favorite pop-cultural website, Detritus Valley—an article titled “Dickety-Dee-Pressing” and written by Jordan Bicks, the woman who runs the site all by herself, and on whom I have a slight crush, despite (or maybe because of) having never met her or seen her photo. She dee-scribes about how in 1992, the restaurant chain Rax (FAST FOOD WITH STYLE, its signs said), wanting to appeal to adults, introduced a cartoon spokesperson named Mr. Delicious: a balding, bespectacled, bow-tied, black-and-white white guy—a real schlub, in other words. I’d never heard of him until reading this article, though I’d eaten dinner there once during that time, when I was ten, with my parents and siblings, on vacation one July in Aurora, Ohio, after our family had spent the day at the now-dee-funct and super-cheesy amusement park, Geauga Lake; from what I can remember, Rax, or at least that particular one, didn’t display much style but did feature a salad bar so large, it had its own zip code, though I think I ate just a roast beef sandwich instead, having adopted my family’s meat-centric diet, though I would somewhat insufferably embrace vegetarianism not long after, more out of rebelliousness than out of any genuine concern for non-human creatures; that dietary choice would last maybe two months. (Actually, it didn’t really last at all, since from the first day I kept sneaking chicken nuggets and fish sticks.)
So anyway, the article links to actual TV and radio commercials featuring Mr. Delicious, and I agree with Jordan when she contends that “these links (and Candy Crush) more than justify the existence of digital computer technology.” Referring to himself in the third person, calling himself Mr. D (also printed on the briefcase he carried everywhere), he would praise Rax’s “adult-sized delectables for only ninety-nine cents” while morosely talking about adult topics such as “being a little overextended” because “perhaps the Rax executives aren’t paying him enough to compromise his integrity”; suffering from a hangover due to “two for one night at the Rusty Anchor”, thus forcing him to “avoid the wrath of Mrs. Delicious”; getting expensive therapy that kept his “hostility all locked up” but just barely, I would say; undergoing “rather delicate surgery” of an unspecified nature; and “still trying to recover from that bout with midlife crisis in ’89” that had involved “custom-designed hair weaves” and “that vacation he took to Bora Bora with those two young”—pause—“friends that left Mr. Delicious feeling empty and unfulfilled”. I wonder if Mrs. Delicious had accompanied him.
Each ad would end with his catchphrase, “Dickety-Dee.” Why the hell not?
As Jordan put it in her article, “Hey, Madison Avenue: if you want an ad campaign to succeed, maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t make viewers want to slit their wrists.” Needless to say, Mr. Delicious flopped bigtime, and Rax soon declared bankruptcy. Ha ha, just more media crap to provide ironic amusement for sophisticates.
But really pay attention to the ads, and you’ll soon learn that, unlike actual schlubs, advertising executives can have their midlife crises in public, so to speak, and presumably get paid a fortune for it. And you can bet aging, bitter white guys wrote those ads. Either that, or young, clueless white guys, maybe super-ironic Gen-Xers, wrote them. Or both types of white guys did. Whoever did, they maybe inadvertently reminded us that immaturity rules, until it abdicates its throne, and you realize that whatever your race or gender or sexual orientation or need for corrective lenses, time will eventually Dickety-Dee you—a banal thought, everyone grows old, though first-hand experience makes that thought seem far more intellectually substantial, not that you necessarily need decades of experience, as I’ve had, to understand anything; I like to imagine Jordan’s in her late twenties or early thirties but has the maturity, insight, and knowledge of an ancient sage.
Copyright © 2020 by David V. Matthews