Social Question

creepermax's avatar

What is the cultural significance of an edible defect?

Asked by creepermax (343 points ) September 22nd, 2012

I’m not sure how to phrase this. When you get a burnt cheez-it or an extra chicken nugget. An oreo with the design of one half pressed into the cream, a dorito totally loaded with msg powder. These edible defects in factory produced junk foods and errors in the fast food industry. I want to write about this for a class. Is the moment of discovery when finding one of these tragic or triumphant? Could this moment be used to define the human condition, or? Help me out please.

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15 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is a funny question. I like it.

I have never associated food with philosophy. It’s easily associated with cultural ideas and norms, but I’m having trouble relating it to the study of knowledge.

Can you write about it? Absolutely yes, but I’m imagining it will be framed in terms of emotions like tragedy or triumph.

Can it define the human condition? I believe it can only do that up to a point of the most basic of human needs like air, food, water, shelter, etc. However, I could be wrong on this point.

Perhaps one of those is precisely how you can tie it to philosophy. The rush of emotion upon discovery of a bonus becomes a person’s reason for being.

It’s a start.

creepermax's avatar

Living for the fries at the bottom of the bag. I love it.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Just wait a few days and someone will triumphantly report finding the image of the Virgin or Jesus, or, Allah forbid, Muhammad in one of these defects. It happens nearly on a weekly basis. But that would be social psychology, I guess. Triumphant to them, but tragic to others, like myself, who view these things as a desperate, nearly psychotic cry for help in a society they see as morally out of control.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it a triumph, but I’m usually delighted by the extra-crispy tiny fries in the bottom of the bag, the over-loaded Sour Cream & Onion potato chip, and over-cooked Cheez-it. I even order my pizza ‘well-done’, to get more browned cheese. Does everyone feel the same way? Probably not… I’m kind of weird. ;)

hearkat's avatar

I suppose you could also relate it to humankind’s futile attempts at control or homogenizing the human experience.

yankeetooter's avatar

@augustlan…what about those Whoppers that are hollower than the normal ones? I love those.

janbb's avatar

I like the burnt potato chips.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s not tragedy or triumph. It’s Serendipity. Like finding an extra cookie in the bag. Or that one chip that was the middle slice of an Idaho potato and it made it unbroken all the way to you.

wildpotato's avatar

What an awesome question! My folklore prof would love it. Auggie, I nominate for Q of the day.

I feel triumphant, like I’ve successfully peeked behind the curtain (of industry, of production, of homogenization nice one, @hearkat, etc.).

In a more symbolic sense, consumption of defects definitely seems like a rich topic for exploration. There is some literature on this in the field of psychology & psychoanalysis – of the top of my head, check out The Anatomy of Disgust by William Miller.

YARNLADY's avatar

To me it equals the decline of civilization. When I was a child, quality control was much stricter, and you could buy seconds of various food products for less money. Now, the seconds are right in the expensive bag/box. Even store brands and generics are barely lower price than the big name brands, and the big name brands contain the broken pieces and stems just as much as the others.

zenvelo's avatar

@YARNLADY On a positive note, I haven’t gotten a green potato chip in ages. When I was a kid it seemed like I got them all the time, and of course everyone knows they are deadly poison.

Kardamom's avatar

@zenvelo I was just going to say something about those green potato chips! There were more of them when I was a little kid. Can’t remember the last time I saw one. They didn’t taste any different, but they looked kind of sketchy.

Have you ever bitten into a bitter peanut? The kind that you get still in the shell, the yummy kind that they sell at the ball park all warm and sweet and salty, but every now and then, you crack into one and it has this icky oily bitter taste. What is weird about it, is that the flavor is so distinctive. It tastes exactly like a bad peanut, not like anything else.

And speaking of in-shell peanuts, don’t you just love it when you get one that has 3 peanuts inside instead of 2?

Green hard boiled egg yolks are kind of funny too. They don’t taste any different than yellow yolks, but that color is so gross, it makes you think of the rotten egg smell, even though the green yolks aren’t rotten, they just weren’t put into ice water immediately after cooking.

A bad burned popcorn kernal at the bottom of your yummy popcorn bag is one of those things that invokes horror in your tastebuds.

@augustlan I too am a fan of the burnt cheese! I also love to scrape melted cheese off of that yellow paper that they wrap burgers in, with my teeth. I heard someone refer to that idea as cheese paper.

And speaking of cheese, especially on pizza, there are two things that I particularly enjoy. The first thing is getting a piece with a super-long stretched out piece of gooey melted mozzarella and stringing it out to the whole length of your arm. The other thing is when you use one of those sprinkle jars, with the grated Parmesan cheese, and a big ball of cheese the size of a pea comes out. That tastes soooooo good when you bite into it.

On the other hand, a pizza bummer is when you take that first small bite of a huge slice of pizza and the entire portion of cheese comes off at once, leaving you will a sauce covered piece of crust. Should you eat the cheese wad all at once? Should you try to slide it back onto the slice? Should you even bother to eat the cheeseless slice?

Another fun thing is when you order either French fries or onion rings, and when you get your order there is one of the other item, the one you didn’t order, in the basket. I always feel like I’m gettin a little prize. On the other hand I don’t like it when I get a piece of chicken nugget in my vegetarian fried food order!

Here’s one that my Dad hates. He loves cranberry sauce, and at some of the buffets, they will have both cranberry sauce and pickled beets, which tend to look similar. He hates beets and has bitten into them thinking they were cranberry sauce.

And here’s one of the biggest frustrations of all time. When you’re enjoying a bag of salted in-shell pistachios and you get one that isn’t cracked open, but you’re so addicted to those pistachios that you try and try and try to crack that sucker open with your teeth and then end up hurting yourself. And the other pistachio dilemma is when you get a shell, that is cracked open, but when you open it all the way, the nut is missing!

yankeetooter's avatar

@Kardamom…that is so funny about the french fry/onion ring thing…I was just thinking that the other night when I had a fry in my onion rings…Ooh! A bonus!

Kardamom's avatar

@yankeetooter It suddenly becomes frings!

Sunny2's avatar

Haven’t you heard that if you find one of these anomalies, you get a wish? But only if you eat it anyway; shut your eyes and make the wish within 30 seconds.

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