Issue 30

The Dumpster: Fads Gone Bad

The Dumpster: Fads Gone Bad

As Food & Spirits celebrates its 10th year of persnicketiness and gluttony, I offer my congratulations to Erik the Publisher. In his honor I’ve come up with a top ten list of food fads from the last ten years that are now as popular as Bart Simpson tattoos.

The cronut. The French spent generations perfecting the art of turning a stick of butter into something light, flaky and delicious. Americans then deep-fried it, delicate as a state fair corn dog. What did we learn, kids? Deep-frying doesn’t make perfect things perfecter.

Red Bull and vodka.  Red Bull is for people who think something great will happen if they just stay awake long enough. Vodka is for people who would rather be skinny than happy. Red Bull is an upper. Vodka is a downer. Drinking them together makes you a drunk who won’t shut up and go home.

Bacon everything. Sure, I love bacon. Out of respect for its holiness I eat it like, well, bacon. In strips. Of bacon. I don’t put it on a maple donut. I don’t macramé it into a lattice to be draped over a turkey on Thanksgiving. I don’t chew bacon-flavored gum. Which brings me to…

Turducken. I like convertibles and unicycles and bulldozers, but I don’t have to have a convertibullcycle. If you stuff a turkey with a duck that was stuffed with a chicken, write down the recipe so you can hand it to the emergency room attendant when you get food poisoning.

Oh, and of course deep-fry it. Put that layered blob of factory-grown meat into a deep fryer to give it a good crust on the outside while protecting the freshness and vitality of the bacteria inside. And speaking of raw…

Paleo. If eating like cave men were good for you, you’d still be covered in fur. A real paleo-era diet plan would be to eat only the foods you can run down and kill with a weapon made from chipping at a rock for three hours, then tying the sort-of-sharp shards to a stick with strips of your peeling sunburn. Skin your catch, gut it, then drag it two miles back to your family, who will help you chop it into marginally chewable bits. All this uses more calories than you will consume. Like eating celery.

The McRib. McDonald’s had an early hit when they made McNuggets, because we don’t like bones. Painting fake bones on fake meat doesn’t make it meat, and did I mention we don’t eat bones?

Krispy-Creme. I’ll say it: the emperor has no clothes and he’s eating a plain friggin’ donut. What makes it taste special is you were at the back of the line when the bell rang to announce fresh donuts were coming out, and your subconscious  had to justify why you were twenty minutes late for work.

Chocolate wine. Because for some people, drinking wine and eating chocolate was too much work.

Pod coffee. It’s more delicious because it comes in little plastic single-serving cups we get to throw away to make ourselves feel special with every lonely cup. Espresso machines make single servings too, but they make them out of coffee.

Craft bartenders. In this usage, “craft” meant “it’s about me, not you.” You sit for twenty minutes watching a bartender count drips of homemade jasmine tincture out of an eyedropper while his greasy beard hairs dangle into your drink. The only time I want to see an eyedropper in a bar is if you’re making a cocktail for my eyeball.

Now keep in mind that while I sit here casting my judgements, I’m drinking cheap wine while eating popcorn by the fistful as crumbs tumble down my shirt. Which is to say that for the last ten years, some things have remained comfortingly unchanged. Happy anniversary.

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell is a songwriter and humor essayist. His “Dumpster” column closes every issue of Food & Spirits magazine. He has authored two books, including Are You Going To Eat That? (2009), and Of Mice and Me (2017). He also has four albums of original songs. The latest, My Turn Now, was released in 2015. Learn more at

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