Food-based nastiness on the WWW.
By Devin D. O'Leary
DECEMBER 22, 1997:
Apparently, years of surviving public school cafeteria food have
given us all a very warped sense of nutrition. Everyone,
it seems, harbors some secret desire to play with their food,
to sculpt their mashed potatoes, to fling their uneaten peas.
Who among us does not possess some secret fetish for such unmentionable
food items as Moon Pies, Vienna Sausages or Clam Juice? The World
Wide Web seems as good a place as any to come out of the closet
and admit our gastrointestinal leanings. There are dozens of sites
out in cyberland dedicated to the grossest, nastiest forms of
nutrition on the planet. Witness ...
The Gallery of Regrettable Food (http://members.aol.com/lileks4/food/food.html)--James
Lileks has fashioned this loving (well, maybe that's too strong
a word) tribute to nasty foods of yesteryear. Advertisements,
pictures and (gulp!) recipes from that era of gastrointestinal
weirdness, the 1950s, have been gathered together in this beautifully
constructed site. Check out the ads for Oscar Meyer's "Sack
o' Sauce in a Can o' Meat." Gaze at the off-color photos
of tuna casserole. Dig into the recipe file for "South of
the Border Cheesy Meatloaf." This is some priceless stuff,
and Lileks has wrapped it up in an attractive retro package. His
prose doesn't hold anything back either. If an item is particularly
puke-inducing, he'll tell ya so. Highly recommended!
Bunny Survival Test (www.pcola.gulf.net/~irving/bunnies)--Here's
proof that playing with your food is a sign of creativity. The
B.S.T. Home Page allows you to look up the results (complete with
photographs) of several endurance tests performed on that perennial
Easter favorite--marshmallow bunnies! The little sugar monsters
are here subjected to laser beams, direct flame, cold, electrocution
and the dreaded "hot tub." The photos are pretty funny,
and the text is pure goofiness. After performing the "slow
application of heat" test (frying bunnies up in a pan), the
"scientists" declare that "Control bunnies were
unaffected and, fortunately, unable to see over the pot to witness
the demise of their loved ones." The "hot tub"
test (which involves tossing bunnies into a pot of boiling water)
ends in the following results: "After 60 seconds, subjects
lost all molecular cohesion and only a large amount of
froth remained visible." I'm not sure what good tossing bunnies
into a pot of boiling water does, but it's sure better than eating
them. Satisfyingly humorous.
Mold Cam (reality.sgi.com/dlai/mold.html)--This rather self-explanatory
site was inspired by the infamous "SPAM Cam." Sad to
say, SPAM Cam seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur, but
you can get the basic idea here. Someone has trained a camera
on assorted food items, snapped a picture a day and allowed nature
to take its course. SPAM Cam had the extreme virtue of starting
off with one of nature's most enigmatic food items. The "Earl
of Hurl," who runs Mold Cam, is stuck with a pile of strawberries,
some muffins and a bunch of broccoli. Still, page through the
day-by-day photo journal, and you can see the magic that is mold
do its magical thing. If you've got the stomach for it, you can
actually download Quicktime or SGI movies that show the whole
disgusting process in one rapid, grisly scene. Oddly fascinating.
Tortilla Art (www.students.uiuc.edu/~jwholmes/tortilla.html)--If
there's one thing the Internet does is prove that people have
way too much time on their hands. Here, a couple college
students named Ben and Justin demonstrate the step-by-step process
for turning your tortillas into lovely snowflakes, Halloween masks
and other works of bread-based art. Curious, to say the least.
Cat Food: The Other White Meat (www.NeoSoft.com/stealth/catfood/)--"Big
Bad John" has programmed this humorous site with loads of
TLC (it's even Java-enabled). According to John, his wife's been
trying to slip him kitty's dinner for so long, that he's actually
gotten to like the stuff. Included is what amounts to a small
picture book about cat food sandwiches and a recipe file. Among
the recipes are such classics as Cat Food Pasta Primavera and
Cat Food Meatloaf. Imagine--with a little creativity, you could
whip up some South of the Border Cheesy Cat Food Meatloaf in no
time! John attracted enough attention, apparently, to warrant
an irate letter from the National Pork Council. Nasty, but compelling.