(The 2,000th posting on this blog. How time flies. Like an arrow.)
A recent commercial in a “lunchtime manifesto” series by McDonald’s (“It’s your lunch. Take it.”), here. Two office workers break out, to have lunch at McDonald’s. One declares defiantly:
I don’t want to be chicken. I want to eat it.
Free-range zeugma, in anaphora. The antecedent is the slang adjective chicken ‘cowardly’, but the anaphoric pronoun it refers to chicken meat. Different categories, wildly different senses (though historically related).
That’s sufficiently ear-catching. But then there’s the intrusion of eat it, which has several non-literal slang senses that are unfortunate in the ad context:
‘perform oral sex’; ‘suffer humiliation’
eat it! ‘exclamation of disgust or dismissal’
Green’s Dictionary of Slang has the first of these from 1963, the second from 1934, the exclamation from 1904. It identifies the it of the exclamation as the penis, but some speakers take it to stand for shit.
The McDonald’s message:
Lunchtime is YOUR time. Bite into a Premium Chicken Sandwich or Angus Deluxe & taste freedom.
Given the rest, I might have avoided bite, with its echo of Bite me!