I recently came across a video, posted last Monday to Youtube, titled “The Bad Boys of Food.” It’s a trailer for a mockumentary about two Bay Area entrepreneurs who orchestrate every food craze imaginable, and are responsible for puppeteering the “health food” obsessions that the public slobbers over with glee. The video clocks in at just over three minutes, and, as of writing, it’s got about 27,000 views. It should have many more.
The trailer is the work of a comedy duo called Thanks Laura, comprised of college buddies Alex Dobrenko and Phil Kaye. The men in their fictional universe take foods from wheatgrass to quinoa (items that “nobody wanted"), and market them with such acumen that they gain momentum and ossify into what we call trends.
The pair, we're told, was first ascendant in the 90s, also known as “the milk era." As their work has spilled into the new millennium, they’ve popularized a number of foods previously maligned in the public eye. They even dismantled the empire of gluten!
The video’s a pretty playful decimation of who’s often centered in food media’s discussion of trends and who usually gets credit for setting them—as if foods appear out of thin air once they permeate a mainstream palate, as if they didn’t exist until those with some sort of power and influence “discovered” them. Also, it’s quite funny. Seaweed? That’s just phlegm from the ocean.
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.