Issue 30

Its Not Just Noodles and Eggs: The Under Appreciated and Often Neglected Food of Blade Runner

Its Not Just Noodles and Eggs: The Under Appreciated and Often Neglected Food of Blade Runner

Disclaimer: If you think you’re going to read an article about the food in the 1982 quasi-hit film, Blade Runner without bumping into a few spoilers, you are a fool. I just want to get that out of the way. If you haven’t seen Blade Runner, you’ve already been screwing up anyway though, so you can probably still read this. End of Disclaimer.

Blade Runner director, Ridley Scott, is no idiot, so when making Blade Runner, he knew the fastest way for it to become a blockbuster dystopian sci-fi film was to subtly barrage the audience with tasty food. I surveyed all my closest buds about what food or food related items they remember from Blade Runner. Of course everyone remembered the noodle bar and the hard boiled eggs. Who could forget those? Some even remembered the Coca-Cola signs around 2019 Los Angeles. What nobody realized was that there is an almost constant overshadowing importance placed on food. While you thought you were enjoying the gritty set design and human versus artificial intelligence conflict, you were really just thinking with your tummy. Don’t get me wrong, Blade Runner is great, but it couldn’t have reached where it is without food.

Let’s dive right in. Almost immediately (4:50 into the movie), Dave Holden is seen giving Leon Kowalski a Voight-Kampff test in the Tyrell Corporation headquarters. Our eyes are drawn to the intense concentration in Holden’s eyes, and his perfectly groomed hair. What we don’t notice is the thermos with hot coffee on the table or sandwich hidden to the side. Holden has clearly been working hard and is probably planning on eating this sandwich as soon as he’s finished with Leon. The sandwich is cut into perfect squares and appears to contain some type of spread – maybe egg salad? Well, Dave Holden never gets to indulge, as he is shot by Leon. However, right before the scene changes, we see that the thermos itself was indeed pierced by one of Leon’s bullets. It is hard enough to cope with the immediate loss of Holden, but we have to deal with the blasted coffee as well? I can see why this movie sucks you in so hard right from the start!

A few minutes later (7:36), we see a slight reflection of a Coca-Cola sign in the Los Angeles cityscape. This isn’t just a sign with Coke’s name on it; it also says, “enjoy”. Whoa. I’m not sure I’m ready for the aggressiveness that this product placement has taken. Anyway, we are going to see a lot more from Coca-Cola, so I’ll leave it alone for now.

At 7:52 we are already to the most iconic food scene in Blade Runner – the noodle bar. As Rick Deckard waits for his turn at the bar, we see another patron pouring himself some tea while he enjoys his noodle bowl. We have a new angle at 8:23 and can see many alcohol bottles lined up in the background of the noodle bar. Nothing is identifiable. What Ridley Scott is clearly saying here is, “Hey, these people need to relax sometimes too, buddy.”

Finally, at 8:39 Deckard is able to claim a spot at the bar. He orders four of something, but is firmly denied and only allowed two. Things must be tight in 2019. He also requests noodles with his two of something. As the noodles are delivered in their bowl and Deckard prepares his chopsticks, Gaff interrupts him and calls him away. Deckard never receives his two somethings, but does elect to take his noodles in the police cruiser (spinner) with him. Here you can see that there is nothing in the noodles but noodles themselves. 2019 is tight indeed. As Rick and Gaff head to the police station, observant viewers will notice a neon Cuisinart sign (10:01). It depicts a tomato dancing its way into the processor and is then sliced to bits. Perhaps this is an early glimpse into what will happen to Deckards’s emotions if he does not focus on his future task.

When Deckard is commanded to sit in Chief Bryant’s office, he is offered a drink. Bryant pours a bit of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky (11:52). The bottle is almost the same as it is now, but the bottom is flared out. This whisky makes a few more appearances before the film is over.

If you missed the Coca-Cola sign at 15:43, you aren’t even trying. This is one of the largest advertisements in the film. Apparently Coca-Cola is completely dominating the cola wars in 2019. I will be surprised if their prediction is wrong once 2019 rolls around.

Next, our buddy, Rick, is headed over to the Tyrell Corporation (21:03) himself to ask some questions of his own. He ends up administering the Voight-Kampff on Rachel who does not know that she is a replicant. It takes Deckard over 100 questions to determine that she is in fact a replicant. What else would you expect from a state-of-the-art Nexus Six? What is very interesting, however, is the very last question Deckard asks Rachel. This question involves a meal of raw oysters and boiled dog. Rachel does not answer and I feel the same way. What do you say to that? Boiled dog? I mean, sure it’s eaten places, and I’m not really here to pass judgment, so can we just move on?

At 22:29 and a 23:12 we see Coca-Cola signs again.

Deckard is back at his place at 32:22 where he pours himself some whisky. Based on the tightness of his cheeks when sipping, I’m willing to bet it’s Johnnie Walker again.

More Coke signs at 37:00 and 39:35.

Still in Deckard’s apartment at 42:42 when we finally see the Johnnie Walker Black Label bottle. I was right! The bottle is actually pretty cool. Obviously, the angles exhibited at the bottom of the glass bottle reflect on the harshness of society in the world of Blade Runner.

By 49:26 Deckard has made his way to Taffy Lewis’ club. Here we can see a plethora of alcohol bottles behind the bar and drinks in the customer’s hands. As you would expect, people go a bit gonzo at Taffy’s place.

Deckard ends up chasing Zhora out of Taffy’s and at 55:28 they race by two neon signs. One is a Schlitz sign, the other is a Budweiser sign. I believe this parallels the pursuit of Rick and Zhora. Budweiser is clearly winning as Deckard will eventually snuff out Zhora. Leon looks on in angst. He must be a Schlitz guy.

After retiring Zhora, Rick Deckard needs a drink to calm his nerves. At 59:56 we see the same Schlitz sign and a different Budweiser sign behind the street bar, but Deckard orders a Tsing Tao! Perhaps there is a twist in store for us! There is indeed. Deckard is confronted by Leon himself, who is eventually retired by none other than Rachel! If the three beers foreshadowing this event hadn’t prepared me for this surprise, I may have fallen right out of my seat. Thanks for the heads up, Ridley!

Things calm down a bit and we don’t see another food reference until 1:13:10 while Priss is in J.F. Sebastian’s home. J.F. is a warm character who invites Priss inside for some food. After making Priss feel at home, we see him asleep at his dining table with an uneaten sandwich in front of him. I assume he made one similar for Priss. What a good guy… poor J.F. Sebastian.

A bit later in J.F.’s apartment (1:16:11), we see the second most recognizable food reference in Blade Runner. This occurs when J.F. offers to cook breakfast for his guests. As he is boiling eggs (the symbol of life) Priss reaches in and grabs one to demonstrate that she is indeed artificial. She tosses it to J.F. who cannot hold on. This shows the ultimate physical superiority of the replicants over humans, and sadly it is J.F. who will ultimately be sacrificed. To further exacerbate the issue, Priss helps herself to some cold slices of what looks like possibly tomatoes from J.F.’s refrigerator (1:18:30). The last moment before the scene change we can see little dribbles of tomato juice on Priss’ chin.

Blade Runner marches on, but the food sightings are becoming quite scarce. This must be Ridley Scott’s way of slowly letting go of our hands. He’s saying, “You’re on your own now. I have coddled you long enough.”

As J.F. Sebastian is heading up to meet Eldon Tyrell, the godfather of genetic engineering, we are given the final verbal food reference of the film (1:22:22). Tyrell says to J.F., “Milk and cookies kept you awake?” That son of a bitch. First we are comforted by food and now we are being mocked with it? I trusted you, food!

Before we can say goodbye to Blade Runner, we need at least one more Coke ad, right? At 1:30:00 we see the final Coca-Cola sign as a faint screen on the side of the Off-World blimp. Coke is really just ramming it down our throats now.

And that’s it. I know you must be overflowing with questions. I am too. Are there any food indications that point to Rick Deckard being a replicant himself? Why isn’t Gaff ever seen eating any food? What is Taffy Lewis’ favorite drink? For answers to these questions, you’ll need to look inside yourself. I want to keep helping you, but then you’ll never learn.

Eddie Morin

Eddie Morin

I’m Eddie Morin. I’m from Omaha. I run B & G Tasty Foods, and I like eating food, playing video games and dinking around with my wife and kids. I used to not be so fat. That’s all I really think there is to me.

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