Ann Hodgman

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Ann Hodgman (born 1956) is an American author of more than forty children's books as well as several cookbooks and humor books and many magazine articles.

Ann Hodgman was raised in Rochester, New York and graduated from Harvard College, where she was a staff member on the Harvard Lampoon and the Harvard Advocate. She was the food columnist for the magazines Spy and Eating Well. Her essay "No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch," about taste-testing various dog foods, was included in "Best American Essays." Hodgman is also known for her three cookbooks, Beat This!, Beat That! and One Bite Won't Kill You. She is the author of the 6-book vampire series My Babysitter is a Vampire and the nonfiction memoir "The House of a Million Pets." Ann Hodgman is married to author David Owen, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and they have two children, Laura and John.

No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch[edit]

In “No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch” Ann Hodgman records her reactions of eating various brands and types of dog food. Through her experiments of eating dog food she hoped to prove that the companies making the dog food are being misleading or potentially even lying about the quality and origin of the contents in their products, and to discover and describe to the public the taste and consistency of what people were feeding to their dogs. She sampled many different types of dog food and these were some of her findings:

  • The Gaines-burger, boasting to have only “real beef” and no “meat by-products”, upon further investigation did contain poultry by-products and preserved animal fat. After being eaten by Hodgman, she described the cheese flavored Gaines-burger as “a horrifying rush of cheddar taste, followed immediately by the dull tang of soybean flour- the main ingredient in Gaines burgers”. Next she tried the meat-flavored Gaines-burger, describing the main difference between the two as “one of texture”. Stating “the ‘cheese’ chews like fresh Play-Doh, whereas the ‘meat’ chews like Play-Doh that’s been sitting out on the rug for a couple hours”. She was also alarmed by the effect of frying the Gaines-burger, turing the burger black and “leaking rivulets of red dye”.
  • Next, Hodgman investigated the Cycle foods’ canned dog food. She determined that the different “Cycles”, Cycle-1, Cycle-2, Cycle-3, and Cycle-4, achieved their goal of being different textures and consistencies dependent upon the age of the dog the foods were made for. She described Cycle-1, made for puppies, as being “wet and soyish”. Cycle-2, for adult dogs, as being fatty, but edible, reminding her of canned Swedish meat balls. Hodgman described Cycle-3, the companies “lite” food for overweight dogs, as tasting like regular dog food, and Cycle-4, the food made for older dogs, as having small nuggets and being sweet, like baked beans.
  • Hodgman tried Kal Kan Pedigree’s canned dog food with Chunky Chicken, noting the foods chicken as being “big, purplish-brown chunks”. She found that this dog food had no chicken taste, and described it as “meat loaf with ground up chicken bones”.
  • Hodgman also tried Kal Kan’s Pedigree Select Dinners, which came in tiny foil packets. She described the consistency as “a lumpy, frightening, bloody, stringy horror… [of] lots of meat”. She described the taste as no worse than canned hash.
  • Hodgman’s next dog food was Gravy Train, a dry dog food designed to make a “thick, rich, real beef gravy” when mixed with water. She reported that the gravy created was thick and rich, but tasted mostly like tap water with a lingering “rancid-fat flavor”. The gravy was not beefy as described by the products labels.

Ann Hodgman’s investigations were humorous throughout her short essay, but also eye-opening to the lack of quality put into dog food, and the over the top statement’s put on dog food’s labels and slogans. When Ann informed a Purina, a large dog food company, spokesperson that she had been eating dog food during her investigation, the spokespersons response was, “Oh, you’re kidding! Oh, no!” This along with her distasteful descriptions show the real quality of dog food, through first hand human experience.

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