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Indy ranks high on "manliest" list, low on "healthiest"

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21st Century Man
  • Image by "FatM1ke," via Wikimedia Commons
  • 21st Century Man

Congratulations, men of Indianapolis. Thou art manly.

But not that healthy.

Combos brand snacks and Bert Sperling, the research firm that produces city rankings like "Best Places to Live," and "Best and Worst Cities for Dating," has officially ranked Indianapolis as the eighth "Manliest City" in America — up one spot from last year.

A press release describes a bit about the criteria:

The COMBOS® “America’s Manliest Cities” study ranks 50 major metropolitan areas, using manly criteria like the number of home improvement stores, steak houses, pickup trucks and motorcycles per capita. [...]

In addition to cities improving or declining in returning categories, the change in rankings can also be attributed to a new category this year — manly occupations (fire fighters, police officers, construction workers and EMT personnel).

Looking at last year's study, one discovers numerous other interesting criteria: Cities lose points, for example "for emasculating characteristics like the abundance of home furnishing stores, high minivan sales and subscription rates to beauty magazines."

Cities also gain points for — you guessed it — their levels of salty snack consumption.

Given the criteria, it's hardly surprising that "Manliest," does not translate to "best," "most energetic" or "Most Romantic for Baby Boomers." Big time snackers don't tend to have a lot of energy, for example; beauty magazine subscriptions, I'm guessing, correlate pretty well with levels of single women; and home improvement stores and steakhouses don't exactly scream romance.

Indy did, however, make it into the top 10 of another of Sperling's myriad lists: Namely, America's least healthy cities.

The study measures and compares "physical Activity, Health Status, Nutrition, Lifestyle Pursuits, and Mental Wellness." Indianapolis ranked 10th worst in the nation.

I wish I could say I'm surprised. I'm not. Somewhere along the line, "manliness" seems to have lost something of its healthiness (I bet Braveheart or Odysseus could run a mean sprint if they had to) and gotten a little sloppier. Snacks are manly. Drinking beer in front of the TV is manly. Getting fat (think "man-size" meals) is manly.

I like pizza and beer as much as the next dude. At risk of sounding like an advertisement, I've also grabbed a bag of combos on pretty much every road trip I've ever taken since I was 16 (my favorite is "pizzeria pretzel" — don't even bother with the new, unruly "jalepeno cheddar"). And as a whiskey drinker and recovering smoker, I haven't always been the picture of health, so I'm not pointing fingers.

But I do find our city's appearance on the two lists, and what we might infer from the overlap, kind of sad.

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