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      I Gave Up a Decade of Vegetarianism for Burger King’s Bacon Sundae

      September 12, 2012

      By Maria Sherman

      I, like many adventurous music fans raised on too much Swans and Rudimentary Peni, am obsessed with all things sonically dark and physical. The more violent and outright sexual, confused and brash, the more I am interested. For those of us in 2012, (and I suppose, historically), this translates into a not-so-healthy infatuation with Scandinavian noise. In the era of Iceage, this means Copenhagen.

      Earlier this summer, Iceage offshoot VAR (a Danish supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Lower, Lust for Youth, Redflesh, Sexdrome, and one-half of the incredible noise/metal label Posh Isolation) made it to our US shores. I had a chance to attend, well, every single performance the band scheduled in their two-week stay. The first of which was on a Wednesday at Wierd night, the all-too-Goth weekly occurrence at Lower East Side bar Home Sweet Home.

      I arrived far too early and spent two hours or so nursing a few whiskey well drinks. When the band arrived, also too early, it was evident that we were going to chat. I took co-frontman Loke Rahbek aside and spoke to him about his first American adventure for nearly an hour. He said something about most looking forward to eating disgusting foodstuffs, namely, ordering tacos at diners like “in the movies.” (What movie has this ever happened in?)

      The band’s performance that night was easily one of my favorite sets of the year. They embraced with a haunting sensuality, beginning and ending in the same space. I was intoxicated (both literally and metaphorically). Infatuated, I requested the band guest deejay my radio show the following afternoon in what resulted in one of the drunkest on air sessions of my short-lived disk jockey career—I really wish I could say this was a one-time thing.

      Those who can solidify friendships while intoxicated; the sort of relationships that span past drunken hookups or conversations about hometowns, should be lauded, celebrated even. Because these people, even when faced with sobriety, can maintain healthy discourse in the light of day with borderline strangers. I am not so lucky. So when I heard the band was to perform a secret show in honor of the lovely Margaret Chardiet (aka noise vixen Pharmakon) I felt, well, uninvited. The gig was to take place in Miss Chardiet’s home, Far Rockaway noise venue Red Light District.

      I asked my friend Gasface--nicknamed after the incredible face he makes when really into a punk band, a face with a level of intensity that could be/is likened to farting--if he was going to drive to the venue (he had been spending more time than most with the Danes). The conversations—which span two days—seemed to mirror that of a high school drug pickup.

      Gasface: “Gotta ask my buddy who has to ask his wife. She drives.”
      Me: “Keep me posted! Willing to contribute gas money or something.”
      Gasface: “Cool, like she might have work. But I’ll see if he can convince her to let me drive.”

      An hour passes. I write.

      Me: “On second thought, I don’t actually know Pharmakon. It might be weird to attend. A mutual friend invited me.”
      Gasface: “Shit is good.”

      I receive a text message from Gasface a few hours later.

      Gasface: “So do you need a ride?”
      Me: “I might, trying to figure out if I’m leaving with the dude who invited me, or meeting him there. Are you driving? When are you leaving?”
      Gasface: “8”
      Me: “Oh from where? That might really work out for me. Room for one more?”
      Gasface: “Let me see… there might be 2 cars involved.”
      Me: “Thanks so much. I owe ya one.”

      Three hours pass.

      “Ok, you’re in.”

      I was to meet him at eight—exactly eight—at Heaven Street, the born again specialty record shop in Bushwick, named after the incredible Death in June track (a nod to their specialty). Naturally, I showed up a few minutes late. Upon entry, Gasface greeted me and the gentleman married to the woman who was to drive us to the show. She was late—almost an hour so—we chatted about Nurse with Wound and Dead Nation, talked about ice cream (Gasface’s passion) and I grabbed some beers.

      Now, as a decade-plus vegetarian (and a health conscious one) the thought of consuming less than ideal substances (with the exception of weed-induced late night pizza runs and what have you) turns my stomach into knots. In these tough economic times, it comes as no surprise that the extreme decadence that goes along with American fast-food culture is second to none. We, in a few words, like to eat crap. Oh, how we love to layer our meats with more meat and dip foods god had no intention of covering in chocolate with chocolate. Socially, it’s a weird adverse reaction for those of us well into our 20s, raised on the promise of Michael Moore documentaries and who could forget Super Size Me?

      This taste for distaste has reached alarming levels. Need I remind you a few short months ago when Taco Bell introduced the Dorito taco? (Where are you when we need you, Morgan Spulock)?”

      And Jack in the Box, perhaps taking things a little too far by proposing marriage to bacon:

      For those in the know, our friend Jack has also introduced the all too disgusting bacon milkshake (if you’ve tried one of these before, please send me the address of your hospital room so I can attempt to right this terrible wrong. Kale juice? Sure, bud.) If you have a few hours to kill, might I recommend searching “bacon milkshake Jack in the Box reaction” on youtube. It’s, like, Fear Factor second challenge good, possibly as repulsive as consuming bull testicles.

      Not that I’ve ever tried this monstrosity, but I’d like to think it goes against human nature to ingest such a foreign elixir. And that’s not even the best part! The bacon milkshake isn’t listed on Jack in the Box’s menu. Oh no, you have to request this bad boy.

      Truth be told, I haven’t partaken in any of this garbage—and as a vegetarian, it didn’t seem as though this bacon culture wanted me very much either.

      But on our way to that show this summer, Gasface said he was hungry so we were forced into detour by way of a nearby Burger King. After watching them chow down on some burgers, I made the comment that I (and my lower intestines) would regret for the following week.

      Me: “Burger King? Don’t they have a bacon sundae?”
      Gasface: “Whaaaaaaat?” (I cannot begin to describe Gasface’s obsession with ice cream. If you ever stumble upon a copy of his zine, “Quality of my Life,” you’ll notice that the cover page is almost always dedicated to frozen treats.)
      Me: “Yeah, part of their summer deal. Bacon sundaes!”
      Gasface: “I’m getting one.”

      And so, we purchased Burger King’s illicit bacon sundae. Shit should come with a parental advisory.

      I took a bite of Gasface’s sundae. And another.

      The bacon chunks looked surprisingly similar to the fakin’ bacon of my vegan past—unnatural browns, vibrant reds, and all too familiar oranges (orange bacon?)

      The actual sundae comes with the fixin’s you’d expect from a frozen dairy treat: hot fudge, some caramel drizzle on top in a lackadaisical fashion. The surprise, of course, comes with the bacon—the sort of savory additive not common in the unsavory sweetness of dessert.

      Another bite.

      The first few seconds were sweet—a mediocre taste of bland sundae. Vanilla ice cream swirling in the false syrups of caramel and chocolate. Moments pass and the bacon kicks in almost a surprising fashion—you forget what to expect. Truth be told, it was one of the most deliciously gross things I have ever consumed and I will never eat it again.

      And if this review doesn’t please you, might I recommend a youtube professional:

      I’m especially partial to the “waver” comment. Perhaps something along the lines of this:

      BACON SAFETY WAIVER & IDEMNIFICATION

      1. READ CAREFULLY: THE SECTION IS A LEGAL RELEASE, ASSUMPTION OF RISK, WAIVER AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE AGREEMENT

      In consideration of _________ and Burger King, including their members, employees, officers and/or agents (cashiers?).

       

      I fully understand and acknowledge that: (a) there are DANGERS AND RISK OF INJURY, DAMAGE, DIARRHEA, THE REST OF THE PEPTO BISMAL SONG, OR EVEN DEATH that exist in my consumption of the Burger King Bacon Sundae and my participation in ungodly bacon-related activity (b) by consuming Burger King’s Bacon Sundae, I, on behalf of myself, my personal representatives and my heirs, hereby assume all risks and all responsibility and agree to release the Safety Course Providers for any injuries, losses or damages, including those caused solely or in part by the negligence of Burger King employees or any other person.

       

      I agree and understand that, on behalf of myself, my personal representatives and my heirs, I am relinquishing any and all right I now have or may have in the future to sue Burger King for any injury, damage, or death I may suffer arising from consuming a bacon sundae, including claims based on Burger King staff negligence.

       

      I HAVE READ THIS RELEASE AGREEMENT AND BY SIGNING BELOW I AM SIGNING MY LIFE AWAY BLAH BLAH BLAH

       

      (costumer name/dead (wo)man walking – please print)

       

      ***If any readers work on the corporate side of the food service industry, please, e-mail me. I can whip out these puppies in ten minutes flat.

      The origins of the fascination with bacon—and, in more global terms, the savory sweet—is no new thing. In fact, it can largely be traced back to the small business America, the innovation of our individualism that brings about the best of human spirit--or, perhaps, is just sensitive to our stomachs. Who knew we needed bacon in our ice cream to find happiness?)

      There is a creamery in Asheville, North Carolina called “Ultimate Ice Cream,” that, among other nontraditional flavors, is noted for their “sweet corn” and “maple with bacon” flavors (the latter sound familiar?) Not only does the maple bacon shit sell like hot cakes, there is an actual waiting list. When the next batch comes in, they call you and inform you if tubs are available. This, as a non-carnivore, is a problem I will never have. Or, at least, thought I would never have, but I ate that damn bacon sundae.

      Historically, it is common for vegetarians to, well, give into the pressure of a carnivorous society. Usually the reason is health-related—like many “junk food” vegans, individuals don’t approach their newfound ethical code in the correct, medically sound way (it’s common for those in their late 20s, after a decade or so of abstaining from eating animals to give into poultry temptation. A CBS study in 2005 discovered that roughly 75 percent of plant-based dieters become ex-vegetarians. So why, for so many, is vegetarianism a phase instead of permanent? Something that seems, on the surface, to be an ethical individual judgement?

      Other than declining health (for those practicing poorly, like myself) social pressure seems to be a leading motivator in the vegetarian’s decline to poor colon health. Going to steakhouses with the boys is out of the question, and with good reason: no one wants to hang out with your salad-eating ass. I’d like to say my reason for consuming Burger King’s bacon sundae was equally as just. It wasn’t.

      Truth be told, I can’t blame my moral slip on peer pressure. No one demanded I consume a fucking bacon sundae. I did it because, well, I thought it would be funny. And it was. To no one except myself.

      On the way to the venue I told our driver that the bacon sundae was the first time I ate meat in a decade. She laughed and said “whoa, really? Why?”

      And perhaps the few beers I had after the bacon sundae experience made the event all that much more enjoyable, but I do remember Lukas Højlund of VAR taking a bite and concluding, “bacon sundae, alcoholic whip cream, you Americans are crazy.”

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