Campbell’s seems to be outdoing itself in its efforts to create the Manliest Soup in the World. Look at what I found at the grocery store, complete with uber-manly label and everything:
This line of soups isn’t exactly new; they seem to have been around since last year, along with their super-manly slogan: “When you’ve got EXTREME hunger… go for the BLACK CAN.” I just happened across it because I’m recently unemployed and I have strep throat. These two things combined mean that I’m drinking lots of soup. It’s cheap and it doesn’t make me scream in pain when it goes down my throat. I should probably be drinking broth, not this chunky stuff; my girlfriend kept texting me while I was in the store, “Don’t buy that soup. It sounds disgusting. Get broth and toast.” However, I felt like I owed it to you, dear readers, to purchase a couple cans for anthropological purposes. OK, and I find the idea of “Rigatoni and Meatball Soup” to be weirdly appealing AND disgusting.
Also submitted for your examination, the recent commercial for this soup:
Clearly we’ve gone off some sort of irony cliff here, just like the parasail in the commercial. Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics, shall we?
He’s hungry for danger, he can take the heat
Fully loaded man’s got balls of meat
Over the edge, flying through the sky
Fully loaded man, he could probably dieeeeeee…
Time to slam a fully loaded can
A fully crammed dinner feast,
For a meat, veg and pasta fan:
Fully Loaded Can!
I couldn’t not laugh. Time to slam a fully loaded can… rhymes with meat, veg, and pasta fan? I’m not even going to touch the second line. Plus, at the end Steve Zahn meets up with his buddies: a guy in a Goretex harness who throws his mountain bike in his eagerness to SLAM a BLACK CAN of MEAT, and a chest-pounding dude in an ill-fitting Evel Knievel outfit, who was apparently jumping over rows of buses in the forest. Then Zahn crushes a soup can in his fist. YEAHHHH. Do you want some soup with your testosterone? I also love the idea that LESS liquid = MORE masculine. To have the physique of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, you must be thoroughly dehydrated — except for some oil, naturally. So your soup must contain mostly hard chunks of solid matter, not liquids. Fluids are for girls!!
I’d like to think this represents the implosion and collapse of the Men Must Eat Meat to Be Men advertising deluge, but let’s face it: they’re still selling meat. Even when it’s turkey or chicken. Every can of this stuff has an EXTREME amount of some kind of meat. It’s tongue-in-cheek irony, so they can get away with two things at once: lampooning the cult of hyper-masculinity that produces burger-flavored soap and razors with six blades, and selling guys more meat.
Campbell’s has been doing this for a long time though. I thought about it for a second and realized that my earliest association with Campbell’s Chunky Soup were this series of ads starring a football player and his mom:
Sadly, I couldn’t find the original commercial that started this series. In that spot, McNabb (and I think they’ve had many football stars in this role) is about to go out on the field of battle like an exemplary manly man, when his mother starts yelling at him. Uh oh! Maternal castration! She’s trying to stuff him back in her womb! Oh hahaha, not to worry. She just wants him to finish his soup. Plus, it’s BIG CHUNKY SOUP for men. A football player can eat it, and so can you, men watching football on television. Ahhhhh.
I’m probably giving the advertising creatives responsible a little too much credit, given that they’re still well within the norms of their industry, but I’m kind of amused by how these ads manage to straddle a fence. Like far too many “be manly” ads, they play on cultural anxiety over masculinity, but also while poking fun at the whole thing. I mean, what choice do they have, really? They’re selling SOUP, and they were back in the 80s, before there was special men-only chapstick and men-only (insert ridiculous grooming product that doesn’t need to be gendered here).
What do you think?
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Oh yeah, I almost forgot my review of Campbell’s Chunky FULLY LOADED Rigatoni & Meatball “Soup.” Consuming this product is basically like heating up leftover pasta and meatballs in thin tomato sauce. Pretty bad meatballs, too. Have you ever eaten Chef Boyardee? It’s like a big can of that, but slightly better and significantly more expensive. I think I would rather just eat pasta and tomato sauce. My girlfriend wanted to know if the soup made me into a man, a subject she seems to have a vested interest in. It did not, as far as I can tell (I mean, who knows these days) but I suspect this might be because I already tried doing that gender years ago, and failed thoroughly at it. Someone else who’s not a man and hasn’t already tried should do this experiment. I have not eaten the “Turkey Pot Pie” flavor, but I expect it to be slightly better and more expensive than say, a frozen turkey pot pie. Wow, the wonders of modern technology, our lives are improving all the time, aren’t they?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Please note that they have already canceled one flavor of this. They got rid of “Beef Stroganoff.” I can’t imagine why, unless it’s because that sounds like the most disgusting thing I can possibly imagine. Campbell’s now recommends on chunky.com that you eat Beef Stew instead. Thanks, Campbell’s Soup.