Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Apple #344: Food King and Animal House

When I get tired, my brain likes to pick up a phrase and repeat it over and over and over (my brother likes to do the same thing). Today, I've had the phrase "mood swings" in my mind. But that's not the phrase my brain is repeating. Instead, it's going for the rhyme: "Food King! FoodKing FoodKing FoodKing!"

Here's an audio file containing this exclamation (it's toward the end).

This phrase, for those who don't know or remember, is from a scene in Animal House when several members of the disreputable fraternity Delta Tau Chi go to the grocery store, called Food King, and blatantly steal all kinds of food.
  • The movie, filmed in 1978, is all about the craziness that happens at a fraternity, Delta, at the fictional Faber College.
  • Actors of note included
  1. John Belushi
  2. Donald Sutherland
  3. Kevin Bacon (this was his first movie)
  4. Tim Matheson (he played VP John Hoynes on The West Wing)
  5. Tom Hulce (you know him from Amadeus)
  6. Karen Allen (you know her from Raiders of the Lost Ark)

If you've been in a college dorm, you've probably seen this poster. It's #1 on College Happenings' top 28 dorm room posters.

  • I remember coming across an interview somewhere with Harold Ramis, one of the writers of the movie, in which he said that the script pretty much grew out of the three writers telling each other stories about what they had done or seen when they were in college.
  • Some of the movie's hijinks include stealing exams, stealing a car, sneaking a horse into the Dean's office, starting a food fight, finding various creative ways to get women to go on dates with them, and of course throwing toga parties.
  • One of the many instances of craziness include the trip to the Food King, the local grocery store.
  • Several members of the fraternity go to the store, and they fan out. Some of them hit on women (one woman turns out to be the nemesis-Dean's wife), while others load up the shopping cart and their clothes with cucumbers and meat.

Larry (Tom Hulce), his sweater stuffed full of meat, chatting with the cashier at the Food King.
(Photo from Video Adrenalin)

  • Perhaps another reason this scene has stayed in my mind all this time is because my brother told me that he and his college housemates used to go on similar forays. He lived with five other guys, and they would all go to the grocery store together. They'd line the bottom of the cart with steaks and ground beef, because that's the most expensive thing in the store, and put all the other stuff on top of it.
  • Then when it was time to go through the checkout lane, one or two guys would unload, while another one or two guys would go ahead of the cart and bag. The guys unloading would talk to the cashier and keep her distracted while the guys doing the bagging would put the full bags of paid-for groceries on top of the meat which was never taken out of the bottom of the cart. Then they'd wheel the whole thing out of the grocery store, cheerfully saying "have a nice day" to the cashier who thought those college boys had been so helpful.

You may be glad to know that there are several grocery stores on the East coast that are still in operation called Food King. This store, I think, is in Washington.
(Photo from the MySpace page of someone named Valis)

  • Animal House was filmed on the campus of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, and in nearby Cottage Grove. The exterior of Delta house was a building that, at the time of filming, was a halfway house for former prisoners.
  • This site (Acme Animal House) has lots of information about locations used in the movie, as well as photos. Unfortunately, no photo of the Food King.

Those lovable ruffians from Delta turned 30 this year.
(Photo from Nice Picture.info)

The movie recently turned 30 years old (shocking!). For you kids out there who think that means it's obsolete, here is proof that this movie remains an important cultural reference point:
  • Local news radio station's story on the recent decision by the University of Wisconsin to restrict its marching band from traveling and performing, in response to allegations of hazing and unsavory behavior.
  • Columnist for the Baltimore Sun discussing the corruption at the Minerals Management Service, saying it's not as bad as Dick Cheney dressing up as Bluto in a toga -- but close.
  • Local TV station cites Bluto's method of loading up his cafeteria tray with food as an example of why many cafeterias are now "going trayless."
  • A political op-ed piece asks if the United States electorate is willing to say, "Thank you, sir, may I have another [eight years]?"

By the way, you can download the entire movie for only $3 from Amazon.

Remember, Bluto went on to become a US Senator.
(Photo from Young Manhattanite)

Audio file from tfmuch.com, which has lots of audio files from Animal House
IMDB, Animal House


  1. I was a grocery store cashier for 4 years in high school.....everyone stole by putting things in the bottom of the basket! If you were walking by and saw another cashier whose customers had something hiding in the bottom, you'd say "have you seen Bob?" BOB stood for Bottom Of Basket. We'd also talk about Lisa, Look Inside Always.

    I can't believe I remember those stupid acronyms.

  2. I worked as a grocery store cashier in high school, too, but nobody ever told me about the BOB or the LISA. They only told me I was supposed to smile, say "Have a nice day," and put the money they'd given me on top of the till before I made change. So people probably FoodKing'ed me all the time and I never knew it.


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