Food by VICE

Today's Special: The Stranded Guy Who Survived on Hot Sauce Is Getting a Year of Free Taco Bell

Also, someone ordered a three-piece KFC meal and allegedly got two pieces of chicken and a deep-fried rag.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Mar 7 2019, 8:29pm

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Welcome to Off-Menu , where we'll be rounding up all the food news and food-adjacent internet ephemera that delighted, fascinated, or infuriated us today.


  • Last week, Jeremy Taylor and his dog spent five long days trapped in his Toyota 4Runner after they got stuck in some deep snow in central Oregon. After the pair was rescued, Taylor said that he survived the ordeal by eating three packets of Taco Bell fire sauce that he had in the car. (“Taco Bell fire sauce saves lives,” he wrote to a friend.) Taco Bell has since responded by promising Taylor a year’s worth of free chalupas and crunchwraps. “We know our sauce packets are amazing, but this takes it to a whole new level,” a spokesperson told Oregon Live. “We’re in touch with Jeremy and have sent him a well-deserved care package, a year’s supply of Taco Bell, and of course, all the sauce packets that come with it.” Ten bucks says he tosses out his jumper cables and fills his emergency kit with tacos. Another ten bucks says I’m doing this, and ten more says “lol sucker I don’t even have jumper cables.”
  • When you walk into a KFC restaurant, you have a certain set of expectations: that you’ll somehow speak the words “extra mashed potatoes” when you swear you meant to say green beans; that you’ll spend the first five minutes wondering why you don’t eat there all the time and the last five minutes swearing you’ll never set foot in a KFC ever again; and that you’ll lock eyes with at least one caricature of Colonel Sanders. But a KFC in China has traded the Colonel for Lei Feng and his ear flap hat, turning the entire restaurant into a chicken-scented shrine to a communist hero.

Lei was an orphan who became a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army until he was killed by a falling telephone pole at age 22. After his death, his diary was supposedly discovered and it was the written equivalent of putting “I HEART CHAIRMAN MAO” on the cover of your notebook. The diary was filled with what CNN describes as “paeans to the Communist Party,” and his words were swiftly integrated into the party’s propaganda campaign. (Many people believe that Lei himself was a two-legged propaganda campaign; otherwise, why would a semi-pro photographer have followed a PLA soldier around, taking glossy photos of Lei performing “spontaneous” good deeds?) BUT ANYWAY, the KFC in Lei’s hometown of Changsha is now covered with drawings of Lei, and the wallpaper features excerpts from his diary. “It's a great glory to become a nameless hero,” Lei wrote. And it’s a greater glory to become part of the decor in a chicken restaurant.

  • Before Roseanne became a racist Twitter grandma, she had a TV show. (No, not the one she was fired from, the one before that). During one first-season episode, she gets overwhelmed by her family, leaves the house, and winds up in an about-to-close diner where she commiserates with the exhausted waitress. “You know what else I do when things get a little tense around here?” the waitress says, leaning on the counter. “I deep-fry a couple of dish towels.” That’s a long way of saying maybe she left the diner and went to KFC. A Reddit user recently posted a screenshot to r/shittyfoodporn of a supposed KFC three-piece meal that allegedly turned out to be two pieces of chicken and one deep-fried rag.

Whether or not this actually happened is up for debate, but in 2014, a kid in England actually did get a fried paper towel in his KFC meal; the company apologized and offered him a free meal. Come on, KFC: what would Lei Feng say about this?

  • I have been beyond shook since Alex Trebek revealed his cancer diagnosis yesterday, and this upsetting study isn’t helping. According to research published by Oxford Academic, fish are freaked the fuck out after being caught, and often don’t survive, even if they’re released. Researcher Amelia Weissman and her team examined monkfish that had been accidentally caught during scallop dredging operations, checking their reflex responses and taking blood samples to measure their stress hormones. What they learned was that even fish who hadn’t been physically injured often had “soaring” levels of cortisol in their blood—more than 100 times higher than the levels in an “unstressed control fish.” An analysis of Weissman’s findings warns that “even fish that appear unharmed following accidental capture are highly stressed and unlikely to survive once released.” And that’s enough internet for the rest of the day. Or year.


  • OK, not every crossover episode works, and some duets are doomed from the start. For every Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, there’s a Mick Jagger and Dave Matthews or, God help us, an Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson. Philadelphia institution Joe’s Cheesesteaks has created a combination that undoubtedly tastes like that time Rocky sang with Dolly Parton. For some reason, they have chosen to place their own cooked meat and cheeses between two slices of pound cake from Stock’s Bakery.

This could be the worst thing the restaurant has ever done, at least since the six decades when its name was a racial slur.

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