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.
- If you want to rep your fave fast food joint, there’s a good chance they sell merch. (Like the weirdest flex, a pair of $40 Taco Bell pajama pants.) Or you could, like, just eat there all the time. But some dude in Texas—and we’re gonna guess that it’s a dude—took his love of Whataburger to a ridiculous level by commissioning a Texas gunmaker to make him a one-of-a-kind Whataburger-branded pistol. U-S-A! U-S-A! Although the gunmaker and, presumably, the customer are delighted by the idea of putting one cream gravy-covered finger on that custom-made trigger, the company itself is less down.
"This product is not affiliated or licensed by the Whataburger brand in any way,” Whataburger told the Houston Chronicle. “Whataburger did not give HTX Tactical permission to use our brand and logo, and we are reaching out to HTX Tactical to cease distribution of this product." For the record, Whataburger does sell t-shirts.
- When a 4-year-old kid smashes his own cake at his birthday party, it’s cute and funny and something that you can remind him about for the next decade-plus. But when a Chicago police officer smashes a 4-year-old’s cake at his birthday party, it’s a lawsuit. Stephanie Burris says that the cops did just that after accidentally raiding her home while they looked for someone who lived in her building more than five years ago. “It's terrifying," Burris told the Chicago Tribune. "Can you imagine a 4- or a 7-year-old sitting and playing games with other children, then come in and be confiscated by men with guns pointed at them? I can't imagine that." The Chicago Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, but told the Tribune that “errors occur and [the department] does take them seriously.” The least they could do is get that kid a replacement cake.
- Colin Foyster, the director of the Aussie Orchards avocado farm, was expecting a record year for their avocado farm. Instead, he lost 4 million fruits—around 80 percent of the orchard’s avocados—during a severe hail storm. Foyster told ABC News that the hail stones were three inches in size and, although the storm only lasted about ten minutes, that was enough. Avocados were knocked to the ground, the trees themselves were damaged, and the fruit that managed to hold tight will have to be “downgraded” due to impact marks from the hail. “My therapy is to assess the damage and get off this farm and go somewhere else for a month or two, and come back and it won't be as apparent," he told ABC. Drinking also helps, we hear.
420 BLAZE IT
- When eternally fussy New York Times critic Pete Wells reviewed Thomas Keller’s Per Se in 2016, he described the matsutake mushroom bouillon as being as “murky and appealing as bong water.” So when the San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant critic Soleil Ho visited Keller’s The French Laundry, her porcini mushroom broth was served from… a glass bong.
“It is clearly a tongue-in-cheek reference to past writing and is not on the menu, but regularly prepared for guests as a fun item,” a restaurant spokesperson told her. Ho hailed it as “a brilliantly executed in-joke.” And we’re hailing it as a reason to say, “You know, Thomas Keller has one of these” every time we gesture towards a bong.
- Earlier this month, 7-Eleven rolled out a “lab store” that is filled with gluten-free, Paleo, vegan and organic options, in addition to turmeric and celery Slurpees. WE. KNOW. “[T]he fact that one of America’s most iconic junk food outposts is dipping its toe into the waters of the wellness trend is depressing,” Slate writes. In the next few months, five more of these abominations will open in the United States, and it’s up to all of us to pretend that we’ve never heard about them.