Pop Culture

Super Gelato of Rome, the Bodega Cat of Yelp, and More (Unexpected) Places We Found Food This Week

October 28, 2016

As of late, I’ve become obsessive in my quest to “find the food angle” everywhere I look. The good news: I find a lot of food where I least expect it. Every Friday, I will present each week’s findings. Here are last week's.

Whoops! There goes the thumb of a Roman statue in London's British Museum, casualty of a catering staff member's wild, gesticulating head. It's true—the thumb of the museum's Townley Venus was ceremoniously shaved off by an external caterer in an incident last December that is bafflingly just making the rounds now, in October. Hm...interesting. What's the holdup?

  • Okay. Let's scoot over to Rome, where researcher Valerio Sanguigni has created a gelato that claims to possess "proven health benefits" and "can improve sport performance in young people." The chilly substance is teeming with antioxidants, and it comes in three different flavors—chocolate, hazelnut, and green tea. Sanguigni carried out an experiment wherein he asked participants to take blood tests before and after eating the gelato, also demanding that they pedal on an exercise bike before and after eating. Tested against a placebo control in the form of a frozen chocolate ice cream, the gelato was determined to improve vascular function and physical performance. Sporty!
  • "Police: Man stops for burger but not for officers," a headline from the Arizona Republic reads. Rude! On Wednesday night, a mobile escapee named Joshua Adkins "revved up his engines" and attempted to ignore an outstanding warrant by driving when police tried to pull him over, leading the police on a chase that stopped briefly when Adkins decided to go to In-N-Out and eat a burger. He was later arrested and booked.
  • The Great Burger King-McDonald's rivalry of Queens, New York came to a fever pitch this week when a Burger King draped itself in white sheets and played dress-up as a McDonald's. I am told this is meant to be a "funny joke" or something of a "prank"; all I see are billowing linens obfuscating a sign.
  • A new study from the University of Nottingham's UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies has drawn a casual link between alcohol and tobacco references in video games and the adoption of drinking and smoking amongst the young video gamers of Britain. Methodologically, the analysts chose over thirty of the UK's most popular video games between 2012 and 2013, determining that 44% of these games had depictions of alcohol and tobacco. It then conducted a survey of over a thousand gamers between the ages of 11 and 17, asking them to self-report whether they smoked or drank at least once. The conclusion? Adolescents who played at least one game with tobacco or alcohol content were twice as likely to have tried smoking or consumed alcohol themselves. Hm. Is this sound science or slapdash and faulty? I don't know, but I'm a touch suspicious; video games have long formed the backbone of social hysteria and moral panics, often scapegoated for the behavioral issues of angry young men whose torments may be rooted elsewhere.
  • The internet got wind of a curmudgeonly Yelp review left by a "Diana D." who has since deleted her offending post wherein she chides an East Village bodega for the presence of a cat. In spite of being allergic to cats, I hold the rather boring popular opinion that, yes, bodega cats are good. This is an opinion that literally everyone else in the world shares except Diana D., now contending with the suggestion that she's not "a real New Yorker," as evinced by the backlash to the review. It has even resulted in a petition to get de Blasio to legalize the presence of felines in bodegas.
  • The world needs this, so it has been done: Pizza Hut has agreed to a multi-year partnership with the NCAA to create "Pizza Hut All-American," a program that will give one "ultimate college sports fan $50,000 to travel to as many Division I NCAA championships as possible. I wonder who will be the paid NCAA-watching vagrant of Pizza Hut.
  • Can a federal agent be wooed with Bud Light? Consider the case of Superior Court judge Arnold O. Jones, recently convicted of promising a federal agent with two cases of Bud Light—all to get copies of texts exchanged between his wife and another man! Jones has since been convicted of three felonies, including paying a bribe to a public official, promising and paying gratuity to a public official, and "corruptly attempting to influence an official proceeding."
  • Let's stay in the courtroom, where Starbucks has just won a drawn-out lawsuit against the creator of the "Dabuccino," a bong-cum-water pipe made to resemble the cups of Starbucks' Frappucinos. Starbucks is bullish about the association between weed and its products, alleging that the Oregon artist who created the bongs—along with the e-commerce site where it'd be seen sold—"willfully intended to create an association with the Starbucks Marks and to capitalize upon the success and popularity of the Starbucks Marks to sell [their products]." The resultant damage, they claim, is "irreparable." Anyway, the artist in question didn't show up in court, and the court has ruled that he must now pay $410,580 in damages. The suit against the e-commerce site is still proceeding.
  • A 64-year-old widow in Hudson Valley, New York is suing Kentucky Fried Chicken for its false and wildly misleading advertising, which filled her with the expectation that her bucket of chicken would be overflowing with chicken, only for it to seem paltry in comparison to the televisual suggestions. Over the summer, Anna Wurtzburger bought a $20 bucket of chicken from KFC, believing it'd be enough to sustain her for a few meals, alarmed that there's only half the bucket. The affair has now ballooned into a lawsuit, wherein KFC has brushed off the woman's claims as ludicrous. Do you agree? I am not sure; history has been kind to those who sue fast food establishments under seemingly baseless circumstances, I think. And I have my own questions about KFC's advertising.
  • Before we go, do not overlook the murderous leanings of Indonesia's Jessica Kumala Wongso. This Wednesday saw her sentencing for the murder her 27-year-old friend through lacing her Vietnamese iced coffee with cyanide in a Jakarta-based cafe, Olivier. She did this in public, and apparently over anger that her friend once was married and had also insulted her boyfriend. Wongso will spend 20 years in prison. It's been a big week for food in courtrooms!

What'd we miss? Let us know in the comments!

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.