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There Is a New Wave of Foodies That Is Dumber Than Ever

If you’re enough of an asshole to currently self-identify as a “foodie,” there is an emerging type that is redefining the contemporary term for the worst. You've been warned.
Photo by Adam Evans

We've all got our issues with the term "foodies." In many cities, it's hard to turn a corner without accidentally stumbling into a charcuterie workshop or getting lectured on growing heirloom herbs. But sustainable foods and farm-to-table highbrow trends aren't the only wave of the future, and as they say, "a rising tide lifts all turds." Alongside the fancier culinary explorations we might associate with the foodie stereotype, there is also a darker underbelly of food enthusiasm gaining momentum: I'll just simply call them "outrageous foods." Eaters and restaurants following this trend are pushing the boundaries of supposedly outrageous ingredients that can be smashed together, stuffed with bacon, and fried. In the process, they are redefining the art of crappy food and the image of the foodie in popular culture.


You know these creations. Though we're a few years out from the media frenzy over fast food restaurants offering bacon and cheese sandwiches served on fried chicken planks or burgers wedged between grilled cheese sandwiches, these gluttonous mutations of traditional American foods have stuck with us far past the initial shock of their appearance. Even if you've never personally considered such items legitimate food options, it's clear that a new wave of eaters and restaurants are excitedly promoting these trends as anything but passé.

Critiquing foodies and snobbish food culture should not be confused with blindly embracing popular culture food trends. Devoutly embracing either side makes you look like a dick.

Sitting down to a meal of these foods is akin to an amateur eating contest. You can one-up your friends by devouring mozzarella sticks jammed into the center of grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza delicately piled atop a fried chicken crust, or a burger wrapped in bacon, topped with more bacon, served on a bacon bun, with a side of bacon mayo. (These places like bacon.) Don't forget to round out the meal with a Butterfinger-and-vodka milkshake and a cheeseburger quesadilla appetizer. Have you somehow managed not to throw up after eating these items? Well, you're on your way to being an expert on this new cuisine.

If, for some reason, you're enough of an asshole to currently self-identify as a "foodie," I'm sure you're scoffing at a nightmare world where the value of foie gras and truffles is exchanged for a demand of alcoholic milkshakes and deep-fried burgers served on doughnuts. This is happening. Maybe you're right. Maybe these foods will forever remain in the realm of fast food kitsch.


Above, the author's alcoholic "birthday cake shake," which was lit with a candle.

But such items have spread like ebola into a recent wave of upscale diners and gastropubs. They're putting forth a valiant effort to make it so that, for some god-awful reason, you don't even need to cross a street to a find fried macaroni and cheese sandwich. It's a safe bet to say these restaurants, rather than faux-speakeasies specializing in foraged mushrooms and mixologist-crafted cocktails, are shaping the tastes of a huge portion of eaters.

And, if you, dear foodie, are still not convinced, restaurants that specialize in these outrageous foods have recently begun embarking on franchise campaigns in hopes of bringing their unique brand of culinary adventurism to fast-casual dining in a strip mall near you. Whether we're ready to admit it or not, a giant burger jammed between two tacos is poised to become the hallmark of culinary innovation and an icon for a new generation of foodies arising amongst the Applebee's set. Get ready to talk about all the new exciting food trends with your in-laws!


A burger isn't enough to fill anyone, so why not serve it on two tacos?

To the eager converts, such outrageous foods are meant to be all about fun and creativity rather than the stodgy seriousness of gourmet foods. What need is there to be serious and reflective about indulging in ten Waffle Tacos as your drunken "fourth meal" at Taco Bell?

And though many food journalists have urged consumers to take the health risks associated with eating meals consisting solely of bacon and deep-fried chicken or sandwiches containing nine beef patties seriously, it's less clear if anyone is urging us to consider the cultural implications of embracing the culinary equivalent of a demolition derby as a hot food trend. Instead, websites such as "This is Why You're Fat" are fawned over by adventurous eaters and a quick search of the internet will reveal an army of these new foodies carefully weaving quilts of bacon to wrap around all sorts of coronary-inducing meals. Outrageous has become the new norm.

Though it might not be particularly appetizing to explore this terrain, the growing prevalence of these food innovations demands the scrutiny of level-headed eaters just as much as every idiot that is cluelessly advocating artisanal cheese or locally-sourced ingredients. Certainly 40 years ago the authors and chefs offering shrimp salad aspic or ham and bananas Hollandaise had good intentions, but it would be a crucial misstep if we didn't reflect on their enthusiasm and, in turn, check our own interests before we find ourselves immersed in a new generation of such concoctions.

Pu pu platter

Deep-fried everything covered in cheese. The author claims that he "crapped nine times" the next day.

Though it might be junk, the rise of these foods shouldn't simply be overlooked. And, in fact, the critical lens afforded by the often pretentious culinary contributions of current foodie culture are useful for thinking about this cuisine, even if the widespread practice of mocking and maligning foodies is warranted and downright fun. We can and should use the lessons of foodie culture to scrutinize a phenomenon like outrageous foods, even if we don't want to take ourselves too seriously and end up farming organic hemp seeds on a solar-powered ranch in the middle of New Mexico. And I don't.

Critiquing foodies and snobbish food culture, on the one hand, should not be confused with blindly embracing popular culture food trends on the other. Devoutly embracing either side makes you look like a dick. Just as we are sometimes skeptical of the precious foodie approach to dining, we need to be equally guarded against attempts to fuck up the basic food traditions we hold dear. If the increased knowledge from the foodie boom and the current archeology of food traditions is useful for anything—regardless of if we're talking about food from a Michelin-starred chef or from the kitchen of a fast-casual chain restaurant—it should be for recognizing when we're being force-fed bullshit under the guise of creativity.