418: Stove Ownership

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Stove Ownership
Although maybe it's just a phase, like freshman year of college when I realized I could just buy frosting in a can.
Title text: Although maybe it's just a phase, like freshman year of college when I realized I could just buy frosting in a can.


This comic is a subtle statement on the epiphany many have when they reach adulthood and are on their own for the first time: No one will tell you what to do! Nobody will, however, stop you from making those poor decisions you were restrained from prior to that independence. Eating bacon whenever one wants is among them.

This line graph depicts Randall's health as a function of time after some undefined point. The joke is that his health goes into an immediate deterioration the moment he realizes that he could just cook bacon on his stove whenever he wants. When he says "he could cook bacon," he means he has both the will AND means, since the stove is now his own. Before the bacon revelation, his health was actually improving - this may be explained because he was now cooking his own, healthy food rather than getting pizza delivered or having other pre-made foods/junk food.

Frosting (or icing) is something you use to decorate cakes. Many children enjoy frosting so much that they eat it off the cake and leave the rest behind. Frosting in a can, as mentioned in a title text, is convenient because it is instant and not necessary to make from scratch. When Randall came to college, he still had a very sweet tooth, so when he discovered frosting in a can, his health curve at the time also went into decline. However, that turned out to be a phase - he got over it - and he hopes it will be the same with cooking bacon.

There is now also similarly instant, pre-cooked bacon that can be eaten right out of the box, eliminating the need to put in any effort to prepare it. The sudden drop in health, obviously, is due to the fact that most bacon is pork belly fat, and while high in protein, its irresistible flavor cannot compensate for its high fat and cholesterol content. In addition, porkless bacon made from turkey meat is also available in some places.

In the title text of 1674: Adult, it turned out that Cueball was not yet ready to go shopping by himself, even though he was an "adult" and ended up dying of over-consumption of AirHeads, very similar to the frosting in this comic's title text.

Eating frosting out of the can was also referenced in the title text of 1793: Soda Sugar Comparisons.


[A hand-drawn graph is shown.]
[On the y-axis:]
My overall health
[On the x-axis:]
[The graph is generally steady rising through 3/4 of the x-axis, where it begins a steady decline. A stapled line marks the start of this decline. Below where the line crosses the x-axis, this decline is labeled:]
The day I realized I could cook bacon whenever I wanted.

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The title text doesn't "imply" that Randall went through a frosting phase in college similar to his present-day bacon obsession; it flat-out states it. The reader need not infer anything. Also, the usage of parens to define both a "phase" and "frosting" struck me as a little bit pedantic. I suspect most, if not all, readers of both xkcd and this explainer site are well enough versed with these nuances. 08:29, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

I appreciated the definition of frosting, as in Australia, it means the sugar you dust over a cake, sometimes over icin, but not the icing itself. Frosting-in-a-can I had interpreted dusting-sugar-in-a-can. Someone redefining it as icing was useful to me. 23:38, 11 October 2016 (UTC)

On 5/30/14, I rewrote the description. It's still marked as inaccurate or incomplete, but the revision hasn't been reviewed yet ~J. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Is it really necessary to describe why eating copious amounts of bacon will have adverse affects on ones health? Should we also describe the metabolic effects of eating fat on the digestive and circulatory system? I don't mean to sound so smug and cynical, but some of Randall's comics are rather self-explanatory. I believe we've satisfactorily cleaned up this explanation. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Okay, I explained, hopefully to the satisfaction of the editors, why eating a ton of bacon would make somebody unhealthy. Can we close this one out? Thanks 01:53, 7 June 2014 (UTC)