Research on eating less helps scone lover
Sanjay Paul

The article appeared in The Etownian, Feb. 23, 2012.

When Dr. Jane Cavender introduced the speaker in Gibble the other day, she was aware that the audience consisted of biology students and faculty interested in learning about the relationship between calorie intake and longevity.

The speaker was Behzad Varamini, who is currently completing a postdoc at UPenn. What made matters even more interesting was the fact that Behzad graduated from Elizabethtown College a few years ago — and is also the son of an Etown business faculty. The return of any accomplished alum, especially one seeking to share the results of his current research with our students, is a wonderful occasion — and the audience in Gibble was keen to hear him.

Dr. Cavender may not have known that Homer was present in the audience. He could not attend the entire lecture (owing to a department meeting), but Homer was intrigued by the title of the talk: Eat Less and Live Longer. Sure enough, as Behzad began discussing how reduced calorific intake could result in animals (and perhaps humans) living longer, Homer knew he had struck gold.

He finally had the scientific basis he needed for his cause in his ongoing Battle of the Scones at the Blue Bean!

A long time ago, Homer had recommended to Kathy, the Blue Bean’s genial proprietor, that she consider adding scones to her offerings. In remarkably short order, scones appeared on the menu — and Homer was in heaven. But soon, he discovered that most customers wanted scones with icing, and in deference to market forces, the proprietor began to add the wretched icing stuff to the scones, defacing what were otherwise perfectly splendid specimens.

Homer remonstrated. He begged. He pleaded. But all to no avail. The best that Kathy could do was to keep one scone in the pile un-iced, and on days when Homer was unable to make it to the Blue Bean, that scone would sit there through the day, unloved and unbought, while its fat-laden, calorie-enhanced cousins sold like the proverbial hotcakes.

Homer had proposed various solutions to wean customers away from the scones with icing. He had recommended raising their prices — after all, wasn’t Kathy expending additional effort to add icing to the scones? And there was the added cost of the icing materials. Surely, increasing their prices over the un-iced varieties by 25 percent was not unreasonable?

More recently, with the College’s Strategic Planning under way, Homer had proposed adding a goal dealing with healthy eating. The College could distinguish itself from our rivals, he had told President Strikwerda in a lengthy email, by offering scones sans icing. Which other college could claim to make such an offer to its students?

Homer is still waiting for the President’s response. But in the meantime, Behzad’s visit has provided him with the best argument of all. After all, who would not want to give up a few calories in exchange for extended living?

So, when you go to the Blue Bean next time, expect to see a banner in the scone area. The banner will say, “Research has conclusively proven that eating scones without icing will cause you to live at least five years longer. Make the right choice.”

Dr. Cavender has expressed some concern that the statement distorts Behzad’s research findings and should be altered significantly, but Homer remains hopeful that they can reach an agreement quickly.

After all, much is at stake. It is now a matter of life and longer life.

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