The fable. That time-honored method of telling stories using animals or similar to assist in making the inherent moral lessons go down easier. A good one successfully removes the viewer just far enough from the story to appreciate and ingest the message without threatening deeply held beliefs or prejudices too personally.

On that note, perhaps someone could explain just what Dairy Queen is thinking by creating a shrimp-centric cautionary fable regarding their ever so delicious annual popcorn shrimp offerings?

This is not a new ad. It seems to run every year or so about this time for a few months while DQ does their shrimp basket promos. I think the ad started running back in 2005 but it may have been earlier.

In the ad, we meet CG cartoon versions of two shrimp, a husband and wife. As the man eats away on the delicious DQ grub he tells his wife that she must try the oh-so-tasty DQ popcorn. She tries it, and agrees that it’s great but then suggests it seems familiar. When she realizes that the main ingredient is actually shrimp, and announces such, the new information still does not faze the other shrimp who continues chowing down. It’s only when she freaks out and says “Where are the children?” that dumb-guy shrimp husband finally stops eating. We get the “humourous” payoff as we realize that DQ popcorn shrimp are so good even shrimp eat them, though they will still panic should the shrimp consumed be a direct relation. Yummy, yum, yum!

Yes, I get that it’s a joke. I also get that we are dealing with cartoon characters here, yet I am I still totally down on this ad. It just plays gross to me.

Why use the cartoon process to humanize a couple of shrimp, making them chatty and even parents, only to suggest they enjoy eating other members of their species? It defies logic. This is the kind of ad a sort of vegan underground railroad might use in the deprogramming of emancipated meat-eaters.

I tried to find a way to explain the ad., thinking maybe DQ knew something I didn’t. Well, indeed they do. It seems that many crustaceans, including shrimp, are known to lunch on their own species and even their young, in some cases.

So, in fairness to DQ, they are more or less factually right regarding what their shrimp are doing in the ad. However, when you consider that “zoological cannibalism” and “Dairy Queen” now exist in the same paragraph I think this may be something a savvy marketing department would prefer to nip in the bud.

The M&M guys have always run close to the line but they never eat other M&M’s so the whole species eating itself routine doesn’t really apply. Also, they are annoying enough in general that I have no significant problem snacking on them. McDonald’s used to have Mayor McCheese but I never saw him eating baby cheeseburgers. This of course omits the fact that he was a walking, talking cheeseburger who could never have been the mayor of anything anyway. Shrimp are real, whether you fake them as cartoons or not.

I know I am being kind of picky. It’s supposed to be all in fun. Ha Ha Ha, the silly TV shrimp ate the kid shrimp, Ha Ha, pass the special dipping sauce. Crunchy popcorn shrimp are pretty damn good you know.

I would offer only that it might be a plan for any future DQ fables to use sharks or even pelicans instead. They will lose the whole “where are the children?” punch line but should keep me interested long enough to consider buying a whole mess of popcorn shrimp. Anything would have to be better than inciting research into culinary habits best left to journalists trying to emulate the late William Seabrook and his icky expose on the taste of human flesh. Eewww! Something different is right.

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