On the YouTube channel for Big Cove Foods, I do a show called Dave Calls While you Make Food. (The latest episode where Scott Baragar makes vegan beef bourguignon-style stew). It is a show where I call people making food using our blends. It also includes some food trivia. I am always trying to write new food trivia and it can be difficult.
Why is it so hard to write food trivia?
In the land of food, there are so many great stories. Like how the potato chip got invented.
The story goes that some dude went to a restaurant. He orders his food. Takes one bite of his French fries and immediately sent it back. Not crispy enough and soggy on the inside.
Chef is like, “Ok. Fair enough. I remember way back when, as a young man, in chef school – I was real excited for French fry day. Got up early. Excited to learn how to perfect French fries... but that was the day. That was the day that I picked up Frenchie, my loyal dog for so many years. I got him to help eat all the food I was making at home practicing for chef school. Anyway, I picked up Frenchie and was about to go learn how to master French fries. And then I got a call. It was the police. Both of my parents got into a fatal hang gliding accident and they needed me to identify the bodies. I always knew missing the French fry class was going to come back to haunt me and here we are. Anyway. Let’s do these fries again.”
Dude tried the fries again and was like, “No. These are still no good! What, did this guy miss French fry day at chef school or something?”
Chef got the fries back.
Even worse? He overheard the French fry comment. Double ouch.
Then he had an idea. “I’ll show him. I’m going to take these huge fries and cut them in half, but cook them the same amount of time. That will show him. Dammit, why was I too proud to say yes when Bastien asked if I wanted him to show me his new technique to make great French fries 12 years ago? But it wasn’t all a loss. That was the day I met Penelope, the love of my life.”
Dude kept sending back his French fries, like an asshole.
Chef was all like, “Oh man. This guy. Thinks he is so great. I’ll show him. I’m going to cut this potato so thin that it will only be the crispy. That will put some mud on his face. Jeez, I can’t believe all this is happening on the day my beautiful wife Penelope and my loyal dog Frenchie are going hang gliding for the first time. Waiter, take this out to dude and see what he says about that.”
Dude tried them and shouted, “Yes! Yes this is it! This is the best! Bring out the chef, I must congratulate him!”
Chef comes out.
Dude says, “I knew you could do it.”
Then dude took off his fake mustache.
“Bastien?!” exclaimed Chef.
“I always knew you could do something great. But I also knew that you missed French fry day at chef school. And that you were too proud to ask for help. I always knew you had something in you. A flame. All I had to do was add some gasoline. But never in a million dreams did I imagine something this spectacular!” said Bastien.
The two hug, both crying tears of joy.
Interrupted only by the sound of a telephone ringing.
I believed that was the real story. The chef with the customer who sent back his fries part, at the very least.
Invented in 1853 in Saratoga, NY by a half African American, half Native American Chef named George “Crum” Speck. Almost word for word the same story.
The Potato Chip/Snack Food Association even put up a plaque.
Source - wikicommons
Some people think it’s a myth.
They have evidence of potato chips appearing way before 1853. Further readings.
Now for the origins of the Sloppy Joe.
Made famous a hundred years ago, by an Adam Sandler song about a lunch lady.
Sioux City, Iowa - 1930 - Some café
Guy named Joe added a tomato-based sauce to some loose meat sandwiches.
Or it could have been invented by a place called Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, FL. Named by Ernest Hemingway himself.
Yeah, he named it after – god damn it – a sandwich he had at a bar in Havana, Cuba that was so messy it was nicknamed Sloppy Joe’s. Further Readings.
No one is there at the start of something beautiful. *cough*davefoodblog*cough* With food – well - it just seems to happen by magic.
The story gets told over, over and over again, like a game of telephone.
And the story gets bigger and bigger.
And I don’t mind.
I love believing that Chocolate Chip Cookies were invented by accident. When a bunch of chocolate chunks fell into the mixer and they were like, “The people need the cookies now. I don’t have the time or money to make all new cookie dough! Put them in the oven and hopefully it's not a disaster.”
Ruth Wakefield is credited with inventing the chocolate chip cookie, but the story of it being an accident is definitely disputed. Further Readings.
Food creates rich folklore that makes it even better somehow. More fun.
We want stories about food to taste as delicious as food can.
Then there is another fairly recent dispute. Take the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. Richard Montanez was a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant. One day he had a dream about Cheetos, except spicy. He believed in this idea so much that he called up the CEO of Frito-Lay and pitched him the idea. They rushed him to headquarters with about 100 high-level people in the room. And Flamin' Hot Cheetos was born.
People love the whole story.
And why wouldn’t they? It is a really cool and motivational, feel-good story. Richard has been traveling around, telling his story all over, even at Harvard. He has published not one, but two autobiographies. There is even a movie coming out later this year about his life story.
I feel that by now you know that there's a twist coming...
According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, that story might not be true. Frito-Lay did their own internal investigation and have publicly stated that, "None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market. We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market. That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.”
True or not, Richard did work his way from a janitor to a marketing executive at Frito-Lay, which is a remarkable story on its own.
To wrap everything up - I enjoy all the amazing food stories.
I want to believe. -Mulder's poster from The X-Files
But it does make writing food trivia a bit of a pain in my ass.
PS - One of these days, I might tell you the real story behind a couple of my blends....