Sep 14, 2018

How Do You Handle a Hungry Man?

I'm not a big fan of soup, especially that partially coagulated Campbell's stuff.  Besides, they had a stupid logo -- "Mmm, mmm, good," not even words -- and the most cutesy-disgusting advertising icons, Campbell's Soup Kids.  But in the early 1970s, Campbell's redeemed itself with the Manhandlers.

They were a thick, stocky variety of soup introduced in 1968, reputedly in response to housewives' complaints that the wimpy Chicken Noodle  lines didn't fill up their husbands.

The commercial showed a hunky, muscular guy in a plaid shirt  engaged in various farm tasks (not him -- this is Matt Neustadt of reality tv).  I remember him plowing a field, piling concrete blocks atop each other, and mending a barbed wire fence -- while a male voiceover sang the double-entendre laden  "How do you handle a hungry  The Handlers!"

The gay symbolism was obvious, though no doubt unintentional.  Viewers could think of all kinds of ways to handle a hungry man.

 He goes home, bursts into the kitchen, and plops down at the table, where there is a bowl of Manhandlers soup waiting for him.  He thrusts a spoon awkwardly into his fist like he's not used to utensils and begins shoveling the soup in, occasionally making little animal grunts of pleasure.  One expects him to say "Me like soup!  Soup good!"  Oh, right, that's the logo.  The voice over repeats: "The Handlers!"

No ladies were shown in the commercials.  The Man evidently lived alone, or maybe with the man who was singing about a ""

the singer was Frankie Laine, who performed in many genres but specialized in cowboy songs, including "Hanging Tree," "Mule Train," "Riders in the Sky," and the themes for Rawhide and Blazing Saddles.

By 1977, the ravenous cave man had been civilized into a New Sensitive Man.  He even knew how to hold a spoon properly.


  1. Two things come to mind:

    1) Food had a gender as early as 1968? I thought Burger King began that in the aughts. (And presaged Men's Rights fuckery.) I never counted Hungry Man because I saw "man" as any human there, thank you Bobby Hill.

    2) I also saw the New Sensitive Man as an 80s artifact. Pretend to care, consume in an "I care but not really" way. (e.g., eat products made with palm oil but avoid meat) Know how to be racist in a way white people won't catch. Some straight guys think it'll get them laid, but they are of course wrong. But it is nice to know he already existed just in time to vote for Reagan.

    1. There's been gendered food since early 20th century, at least, where cakes and various pastries were for "ladies," and men were expected to prefer meat.

    2. I should've guessed the New Sensitive Man was older, TBH. The 80s also had man-mountains, after all.

      The 90s called him the Sensitive New Age Guy or the metrosexual, the matter continuing into the aughts.

      My look, at least casually, is spornosexual, but my doing it it antedates the term. It's the antithesis of all things 70s.


No comments that use abusive or vulgar language or point out that a character is Not Wearing a Sign.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...