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Where's the beef?

In a lot of American comedies, especially THE SIMPSONS, they mention a thing "where's the beef?" They have it on bumper stickers etc. what the hell does this mean?

ps. think your site is the best thing I've seen online in a very long time love the rap song translations. I listen to tones of rap music and even after listening to some songs thousands of times was still not able to find out as much as I found out on yr site. Keep up the great work!!

Mike from the UK

Dear Mike,

Thanks for the compliments! I'm guessing "Where's the beef?" is unfamiliar to you because while the US exports television shows as they are, advertisements are changed from country to country.

In the 1980s, Wendy's fast food chain launched a series of ads starring an elderly woman named Clara Peller. She would examine a huge hamburger bun with a tiny meat patty inside, exclaiming disgustedly, "Where's the beef?" Happily, I was able to find one of the ads online, so you can see it for yourself. (You'll probably have to watch another advertisement first.)

Because the ads were so popular, the phrase started to be used more generally to question the value or substance of things. In a quick survey of recent newspaper stories that used the phrase, it was most often employed to point out a lack of evidence to support a business proposal or court case.

As one example, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald, after the government made a weak case against a judge in a Mississippi bribery trial last month, defense attorney Michael Crosby said of the jury, "They looked shocked when the government rested. The look I saw in their eyes was, 'Where's the beef?'"

By the way, the "Where's the beef?" campaign was created to promote the fact that Wendy's, which was a fairly new chain at the time, had bigger hamburgers than its competitors. This may still be true. As a vegetarian, my personal hamburger experience is limited, but on the Wendy's website, they show a "Classic Triple" cheeseburger containing 3/4 pound (.34 kilos) of meat and nearly a thousand calories--about 25% more artery clogging than the biggest burger on the McDonald's site.

Your pal,

A. C. Kemp

August 16, 2005

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