Rest in (Separate) Pieces

By Brian O'Connor
February 06, 2018
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You don't need us to tell you that 2016 was the year of living dangerously. Centuries-long curses ended (go Cubs!), lons-standing embargos began to thaw (hooray Cuba!), and heaps of celebrities died (pour one out for Boutros Boutros-Ghali). But one nefarious threat to humanity still persists: terrible food mashups, like the hot cocoa flavored Oreos that made the rounds on the food web earlier this week, as well as the candy corn Oreos that dropped last October. What began with the humble KFC Double Down in 2010 has morphed into a pernicious food subculture unto itself, where crazy food mashups prevail across the entire spectrum of breakfast, lunch, dinner, second dinner, early breakfast, midnight snack, elevenses, high tea, low, tea, and whatever else qualifies as meal time these days.

And for whatever reason, Breakfast food is mashup bait to a degree unseen by any other meal variety. Whether you're talking about a wild cherry-flavored Slurpee doughnut, a Walmart doughnut cheeseburger, Dunkin-Donuts pop tarts, the Croloaf, sushi doughnuts, brunch-flavored candy corn, or coffee in a friggin' waffle cone, our beloved breakfast is prime real estate for desecration by food vandals. They've taken our sacred, beloved food—that which breaks fast and brings families together—and made it into a mockery. They've taken the sanctity of toaster pastries and turned them into tequila shots, transformed doughnuts into ring-shaped pizzas, and created the food equivalent of that time Metallica and Lou Reed put out an album. Yeeeuck.

It's hard for me to ignore a nagging sense that the proliferation of weird food flavors and strange snack mashups as a way for companies to drum up perpetual hype around their products. After all, when did you talk about candy corn online before you saw you could have them in "brunch-inspired" flavors? Who among us wouldn't Instagram a cup of coffee inside of a chocolate waffle cone? On some cynical level, I can't help but feel like companies are looking for clever ways to goose their quarterly earnings by feeding us ever-more ridiculous foods. Perhaps we're sacrificing our own integrity for the sake of a new food fad, and buying an unending stream of unhealthy crap that gets thrown at us for the sake of food manufacturers making a few extra bucks. 

I'll confess: I tried the Doritos Locos taco and I didn't like it. I loved it. But I also hated myself for loving it. I knew I was eating something that was assuredly bad for me. I knew I should learn to love myself more than that. And that's kind of important, isn't it? Perhaps it's more important than ever in 2017, too, as the world deals with a hell of a lot of problems that might require us to be kinder to one another—and most importantly, kinder to ourselves. Sure, it's fun to be on the ridiculous fad-wagon, but there's beauty in a simple plate of eggs. There's wonder in a perfectly-cooked strip of bacon. There's majesty in a well-roasted coffee bean that doesn't need glitter, sprinkles, sparklers, or god knows what else. So as nearly everything else seems to come to an end in 2016 (cosmopolitanism, I'm looking at you!), maybe it's not too late for this trend to get in on the action.