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 year, Rider University surveyed its students to find out which fast food restaurant they’d like to see on campus. The top vote-getter was Chick-Fil-A—so the New Jersey school sent out a second survey, minus that particular chain. The administration took issue with Chick-Fil-A’s history of being shitty to the LGBTQ+ community, but one dean is beyond shook by that decision. Cynthia Newman, the soon-to-be former dean of the College of Business Administration, recently submitted her resignation, because she believes that failing to serve chicken sandwiches is somehow an attack on her own religious beliefs.
- The King Cole Bar at the swank St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan has been known to serve a $40 shrimp cocktail, which probably sounds ridiculous to everyone but Instagram influencers and Joe Theisen. The Minnesota man is a former horse breeder turned “shrimp hoarder” who buys and raises ornamental shrimp that he enters in contests. Yes, this guy makes bank by breeding PAGEANT SHRIMP. He currently has more than 50 tanks which house more than 1,000 shrimp—including the ones he paid $1,000 each for. “I found excitement and joy in [breeding shrimp],” he told the StarTribune. “I want to get more people into the hobby.” Considering that he bought his house with what he made from raising crustacean versions of Miss America, sign me the fuck up.
- Despite what you remember from freshman English, Lennie from Of Mice and Men seems to be alive, well, and a current member of a vegan group called Meat the Victims. According to The Telegraph, the organization “stormed” a pig farm in Lincolnshire, England, where they showed meat-eaters what’s what by wearing matching t-shirts, leaning forlornly against each other, and accidentally killing two piglets in their enthusiasm to hug some animals. “It's caused the death of two young piglets through being squashed and two other piglets I've had to be taken away to get up and running again,” farmer Sylvia Hook said. “They were picking piglets up, cuddling them—there was a lot of screaming going on. Piglets don’t want to be cuddled.” This was the first Meat the Victims event, and for the second one, they’re clearly going to have to protest themselves.
- Last November, Amazon gave its Whole Foods employees a raise, bumping everyone’s salary to at least $15 per hour, and giving its team leaders an extra $2 per hour. But in the months since, an increasing number of Whole Foods workers have said that their hours have been cut, essentially cancelling out their pay rises. At one Illinois store, for example, part-time employees have been knocked from 30 to 21 hours per week, while full-time workers have had three hours shaved from their own schedules. “We just have to work faster to meet the same goals in less time,” the worker told The Guardian.
NON-PINTEREST PINTEREST FAILS
- Several months ago, the internet lost its collective mind when Ducks Eatery revealed its watermelon ham, a $75 smoked and sliced entree-slash-illusion that looks like meat but tastes like...wet meat. Naaman Zhou, a reporter for The Guardian, spent three days attempting to recreate it using a watermelon farmer’s recipe, a borrowed restaurant smoker, and a melon that he optimistically prepared for this journey.
He recounted the entire underwhelming experiment for The Guardian, a piece you should 100% read, and not just because the smoked melon’s flavor is described as “an evil Christmas.”
- Finally, disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali has surrendered his stake in all 16 of his remaining restaurants, and is in the process of selling his shares in the Eataly chain of Italian supermarkets. The New York Times reports that Batali’s former partners, Tanya Bastianich Manuali and Joe Bastianich, will form a new company to manage and operate the eateries, and Batali will “will no longer profit [...] in any way, shape or form.” In a statement to the Times, Batali said that he “wished [Joe] the best of luck.” In January, the NYPD officially announced that Batali would not be arrested or face any criminal charges, despite the disturbing sexual assault allegations that had been made against him.