Monday, June 1, 2015

Exercising to the song "Chicken Fat"

Recently our television was on in another room, and I was suprised to hear a few seconds of the song Chicken Fat. (Since then, I've read that the Apple computer company included the sound bite in a television advertisement, but I never have seen the advertisement.)  

Here is another video, featuring pretty, exercise-astute cheerleaders. 

As I remember, Mr. Peter made our fifth-grade class do this exercise routine on the school's basketball court a few times every week. We could not do it every day, because it made our muscles so sore. 

We were told that President Kennedy encouraged all elementary schools to institute this exercise routine, because American kids were too flabby. President Kennedy valued vigour in children.

The routine is longer -- almost seven minutes -- than I remembered it.

Now I recognize the unforgettable voice as belonging to Robert Preston, famous for playing the role of The Music Man

While browsing through Google for information about Chicken Fat, I came across an amusing blog written by "Retro Mimi", who diets using Weight Watchers recipes from the 1970s. She writes about herself:

I am a Pittsburgh girl with a passionate love for potatoes and carbs and butter. 
For some reason, I recreate long-forgotten Weight Watchers recipes from the 1970's in my own kitchen. Sometimes they are surprisingly tasty. Most of the time they are dreadful. Often my house smells like boiled celery. I get way too excited about buying vintage Pyrex and unmolding gelatine. 

I am a Weight Watchers lifetime member. I am the daughter of a Weight Watchers lifetime member. I am obsessed with all things Weight Watcher.
I am taking over the culinary world... one envelope of Knox Gelatin at a time. 
It all started with one cookbook... Once upon a time, a friend gave me a copy of the "1972 Weight Watchers Revised Program Cookbook" (WWRPC). Coincidentally, 1972 was also the year my mom joined WW and lost a great deal of weight after I was born. I became fascinated by this book, and I started wondering what it would be like to follow the same plan that Jean Nidetch and my mom followed almost 40 years ago. The rest is history. 
Anyway, Retro Mini wrote this article about the exercise song Chicken Fat.  
If you are like me and grew up in the 60's or 70's, you were probably tortured by this song at some point in your life.
Sung by Robert Preston (The Music Man), and sent to every school in the U.S. as part of a Youth Fitness Program in the 60's, it is guaranteed to get you moving.
Plus---once you hear it, you will NEVER GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD.
We had a copy of this record at our house, and I still remember doing the "Chicken Fat" workout with my mom and grandmother on a regular basis. We had such a great time yelling, "Give that chicken fat back to the chicken and don't be chicken again!"
I have posted the entire "Chicken Fat" song for your retro fitness enjoyment. Now get up, get moving and flap those wings!   
Am I the only weirdo that remembers this?
A lot of people commented on Retro Mimi's Chicken Fat article, and I followed links to another blog article written by someone named Noreen Braman.  
The President Kennedy and Chicken Fat Song Connection
Anyone who was in school during the 60s remembers the President's Physical Fitness program, instituted by President Kennedy, and the tests you took to prove how American Strong you were. For me, it was the chin up that was my demise, my flabby arms unable to lift me up more than once, and I am not even sure I did it once.
The program had a television commercial that I have been desperately searching for. It featured a depiction of a human as a head on a TV screen that barked orders to a robot. Where it should be taken, etc. At one point, the robot just wanders off, leaving the TV head person to just keep shouting at the robot whose name I seem to remember was "Z-12." The moral of the story? Use your body, or someday you won't have one anymore. It was an idea that resurfaces in the the Pixar animated film, "Wall E" where bloated, obese humans have every need met by robots and machinery. Cautionary tales meant to inspire us to take care of our bodies and the planet.
I remembered the President's Physical Fitness challenge with a wistful nostalgia, a noble idea that never quite got me to improve my chin-up performance, but did serve as a source of reward for those more athletically inclined, including my own children when they were in grammar school. What I never remembered, until now, was that this program also came with an evil, menacing, demeaning piece of music that has been recently resurrected by a commercial for Apple. 
It appears that the "Chicken Fat" song, which became the soundtrack of my adolescent nightmares, was actually titled "The Youth Fitness Song" and it was commissioned by the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Written by Meredith Wilson ("The Music Man") and recorded by "Music Man" star, Robert Preston. My brain, which has been screaming since I first heard this song playing in the commercial, is now on full about-to-meltdown red alert. Say it isn't so!
Oh yes, we've got trouble, right here in EVERY CITY IN AMERICA. Sure, Apple shortens the torture, it almost sounds catchy. But listen to it, preserved for posterity on the JFK Library website. 
And if you want to sing along, here, via Lyrics Playground, are the words. Every torturous verse. 

No comments:

Post a Comment