ByTom Tennant, writer at
Editor/publisher of (@midwestmovies) and MarvelCinematicUniversity (@marvelcineuniv)
Tom Tennant

It occurs to me, in reference to the Parks & Rec premiere, that the now mysterious Morningstar incident, the one that cleaved a seemingly irreparable divide between Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson, must be a reference to MorningStar Farms, purveyors of meatless hamburgers and hot dogs.

I can even picture the incident.

Imagine a summer picnic - a gala event celebrating Leslie's new job with the National Park Service. A public event drawing a host of notable attendees and every Pawnee citizen for miles around. The event is catered by a major sponsor who promises endless picnic fare. Ron arrives excited to dig in.

Sure enough, he is treated to delicious hamburgers, incredible hot dogs, BBQ riblets, chicken sandwiches - a feast! Ron indulges. He revels. He wallows.

Content, he compliments Leslie and the sponsor on what was perhaps the most magnificent meal ever prepared - only to learn that all of the juicy food he just consumed was, in fact, vegetarian, made by the event sponsor, MorningStar Farms.

Ron Swanson, betrayed

Not having been informed of this prior to his gluttony, Ron hulks out. He turns over tables, slaps plates of food out of the hands of picnickers. Ron Swanson destroys Leslie’s moment.

For good reason, in his eyes. After all, this is the man who said, "Please refrain from discussing feelings in the presence of meat," and "Fish for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable."

He feels betrayed, and Ron Swanson quits his Parks & Rec job on the spot.

At first Leslie refuses to speak with Ron. But Leslie apologizes in the way she often does. She can see his side. Understands why he would be upset.

Ron graciously accepts her apology. But he does not apologize in return. In fact, Ron refuses to apologize. He feels he has done nothing wrong.

Leslie Knope, appalled

This, to Leslie, would be unconscionable. She's apologized, Ron should do so as well for his terrible behavior.

Ron doesn’t budge. And neither does Leslie.

So the two close friends find themselves at a standoff - a stalemate. One that has lasted for more than three years.


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