We Reviewed 6 Of TV's Grossest Foods And It Was... Yeah
The grownups always told me not to imitate what I see on TV. But if I'm not supposed to, say, make intentionally horrific food concoctions I saw in sitcoms, then why are all the ingredients available at the food store? Checkmate.
Plus, last time we found out that these supposedly wacky recipes have a good chance of being delicious. Remember that lots of history's greatest ideas are just sarcastic suggestions someone else took seriously.
Moon Waffles (From The Simpsons)
Ingredients: Waffle Batter, Caramels, Liquid Smoke, A Stick Of Butter
When, as a child, I saw Homer wrap a smoky caramel waffle around a stick of butter, I knew I was seeing my own destiny. "Some day, I will get to a place in my life where I am eating that exact thing!" Well, it took 25 years to get here. With excited, shaking hands, I opened 16 individually wrapped Kraft Caramels. I whipped up a batch of 47-cent waffle batter. I opened the bottle of liquid smoke and took a whiff. I think this is what they make smelling salts from.
With my waffle iron heated up, I threw the ingredients onto the sizzling plate in the same order that Homer does in The Simpsons. Caramels, batter, liquid smoke. Shut the machine, before someone sees what I have done.
God knows, though. And I'll have to answer for it.
The liquid smoke, a substance apparently made from the runoff from an extinguished house fire, wafted into my eyes, burning them to tears. And just like in the TV show, the mass started oozing out of the sides. The caramels, in fact, started leaking into the mechanical components of the waffle iron, and I wondered for a minute if this was going to be my last time using that machine. Then the caramels started falling out of the waffle iron, jizzing all over my counter.
Food porn. Literally.
Right as the burning smell really permeated my kitchen, the waffle iron's green light came on. I knew this had to cool for a while -- those melted caramels looked like little globs of lava that would burn right through my tongue. I let it hang out while I scraped caramel emission off the counter and charred residue out of the maker with a skewer.
Finally, I wrapped that beast around a stick of butter and prepared for my first bite.
Like if hot dogs were made of diabetes instead of animal anuses.
Here is our first important life lesson: Food works differently in cartoons, as anyone who has tried to eat a pizza in a sewer can attest. A raw stick of butter may look like the ultimate expression of gluttony in Homer's hands, but here in the real world butter is only pleasant when it melts. The first bite of moon waffle was nauseating, all because of that cold, very chewy hunk of butter.
Spoiler: I would make that same face after eating most of these recipes.
The waffle, in and of itself, really wasn't that terrible, by comparison. I actually wasn't able to differentiate the Liquid Smoke from the bitter smokiness of the charred caramels. My hair stank like campfire and I felt the need to shower off the meal's toxic residue. One meal in, and I feel like I've stumbled out of some terrible industrial accident.
Which is technically true I suppose.
Breakfast Spaghetti (From Elf)
Ingredients: Spaghetti, Maple Syrup, Chocolate Sauce, M&Ms, Fruity Rainbow Marshmallows, Root Beer Pop-Tarts
If my childhood self was disappointed with the reality of the Moon Waffles, then this dream creation from Elf would have to restore young me's belief that there is magic in the world. And so what if Elf came out when I was 18? I pay taxes, damn it, and I'm going to make the most beautiful breakfast spaghetti mountain that ever happened.
I have to admit that I took one liberty with this concoction. In the movie Elf, it's pretty obvious that Will Ferrell uses chocolate frosted Pop-Tarts as the croutons on his plate of breakfast glory. I, on the other hand, found some repulsive-looking Root Beer Pop-Tarts, a close-out item just a month away from expiring, at my local dollar store. As I cooked my spaghetti to al dente, I took a small bite of the Root Beer Pop-Tart. The taste was part licorice dirt, part sassafras hell, and all soda concentrate. With that, I drained my spaghetti and composed my dish.
And a note for the paramedics, just in case.
The Breakfast Spaghetti was beautiful, and there was an excellent crackling sound from the M&Ms as they started melting. As I twirled a perfect-looking bite and brought the candy mountain mass to my face, I realized that I was excited to devour this dripping sugar heap. This is the sort of thing every child angrily insists they'll eat once they're grown up, when the mean old parents aren't around to spoil the fun.
Who's laughing now?! They are ... They are.
It was ... disappointing. The biggest disappointment was that I was disappointed by the disappointment. If that doesn't make sense, get back to me after you've had some breakfast spaghetti. It turns out pasta has an impressive ability to mellow out any flavors you throw at it (maybe this is why a jar of Ragu has 60 grams of sugar in it). I expected overpowering, cloying sweetness. Instead, the pasta was just so boldly flavorless, none of the candy trash on it could stand out.
And, if you think about it, from a nutritional point of view, Elf's wacky idea of a childish all-candy breakfast is subdued compared to, say, half of the menu at IHOP.
If you re-arrange the letters, you can almost spell "HELP."
The Seven-Layer Salad (from How I Met Your Mother)
Ingredients: Potato Chips, Mayo, Gummy Bears, Mayo, Funyuns, Mayo, Purple Cabbage, Mayo, Shredded Carrots, Mayo, Bacon Bits, Mayo, Lettuce
I have to confess that I'm totally stoked for this one. The joke in the show was that the "Eriksen family seven-layer salad" is almost entirely mayonnaise (sixteen cups of it, in the show) but the joke's on you, show: I love mayonnaise. I really, really do.
I carefully assembled the salad, meticulously achieving the perfect layered effect presented in the show. As you can see, mine came out looking exactly like Lily's. This is not a screen shot from the episode.
This is real life with real consequences.
Once prepared, and boy is it lovely, I take a glorious scoop onto a plate. I shovel all the ingredients onto my spoon and take a bite.
It's fucking delicious.
I'm not joking, or trying to trick you into wasting groceries. If you bring this shit to my next dinner party, I'll follow you home. The only sweet ingredient in this are the gummy bears, which have a really pleasant bite and texture, with a subtle fruitiness that actually pairs wonderfully with the mayonnaise. The lettuce, cabbage, and carrots add a fresh snap and crunch -- they let me know I'm doing something good for my body on this day (it is, after all, a salad). The bacon bits, potato chips, and Funyuns taste like salty, crispy, perfectly greasy childhood. And the layers upon layers of mayo is just giving my mouth a hug.
This is a judgment-free zone.
Wait, could the previous dishes have been improved by dividing them up and layering them between thick globs of mayonnaise? Eh, maybe next time.
Milk Steak With Jelly Beans (from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Ingredients: Steak, Milk, Jelly Beans
By this point in the experiment, I was ready for a substantial meal, something that involved protein and a murdered animal. The next food creation on my list was the Milk Steak ("boiled over hard") with a side of jelly beans ("raw") from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. This is a dish Charlie references but is never shown onscreen. It is specifically intended to demonstrate Charlie's utter detachment from reality due to years of substance abuse and brain damage. So right away, that bodes well for us.
Otherwise, it's easy to deduce the dish here: Steak goes in the milk, boil to hardness. Leave the jelly beans raw as not to rob them of their nutrients.
Once my milk started boiling and I slid the steak into it, there was nothing to do but wait. The meat sank to the bottom of the pot like a slab of concrete, ashamed of what I'm forcing it to become. As for the smell -- it was unseasoned meat in boiling milk. Two distinct fragrances that somehow did nothing to overpower, mask, or complement each other. Eventually, I thought the steak was hard enough and I fished it out of the milk with my tongs.
I'd say "rescued the steak," but there's no coming back from this.
Right away I took note of the gnarly milky skin-film clinging to it. Yep, that's something Charlie would eat.
He eats cat food, after all.
I poured some of the boiled milk onto the plate, to add something to the dish that probably cannot legally be called a sauce. I garnished with the jelly beans. The steak, against all odds, started secreting blood even though it was hard as a rock. My favorite part was that the milk sauce starting turning rainbow from the jelly beans. Just ... look at that picture for a while. The longer you stare, the more details will reveal themselves. This is what clowns eat when they are sure no humans are around.
Cause when humans are around, the steak isn't cow.
Cutting into it, I saw that it appeared to be medium-well, yet was super tough with no yield. It made this awful squelching sound as I cut into it, as if trying to warn me. I knew I had to pair this bite with a green jelly bean, the most disgusting flavor of what is already a terrible candy.
You're not supposed to ingest milk when it's this color.
The meat was almost crunchy. Someone on the IASIP writing staff had clearly boiled a piece of meat "over hard" -- that's a nightmarishly perfect term for it. The meat itself brought no flavor of its own, so the sickeningly sweet, melting mess of jelly bean hit my tongue along with the gristle.
I gagged. It was truly repugnant, and without question one of the weirdest things I've ever put in my mouth.
Peanut Butter And Clam Pizza (From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ingredients: Frozen Pizza, Peanut Butter, Clams
That's right -- it's sewer pizza time. The writers of the TMNT cartoon had a lot of fun coming up with crazy, gross-sounding pizzas, almost as if they thought no one would be dumb enough to try one. Well, we're going after the peanut butter and clam pizza, even if the animators clearly got lazy and just drew a slice of pepperoni.
Now, judge me as you will, because I know that whole clams would have made for a better presentation and seemed more like something a cartoon character would eat. But I made an executive decision and settled on minced clams, figuring their flavor would better permeate the whole dish. We didn't come all this way to settle for half measures and there really should be clam in every bite.
I cracked open the can of clams, stared into its oily, milky water, and shooed my excited cat away. As for the peanut butter, I went for the junkiest crap I could find because what else would a turtle in the sewer eat? I decorated my frozen pizza and admired its "Cat Puked on It" aesthetic.
Catnip and hairballs would actually add some much-needed color.
After baking, I opened the oven and was hit by the cooked peanut butter scent -- it actually annihilated any remnant of the seafood smell, leaving the clams totally undetectable. I thought I should take this as a good sign, before remembering that peanut butter on pizza is just as disgusting a thought as clams on pizza. Oddly enough, the pizza kind of looked the same cooked as it did raw. Goddammit, I can't believe this is about to go in my face.
But seeing is believing, unfortunately.
I take a bite ...
... and you know what? I am seriously blown away.
The clams' flavor doesn't overpower the dish at all -- in fact, they just sort of remind me of mushrooms, a soft bite that easily melds with the rest of the pizza. And as for the peanut butter, that cheap, way-over-sweetened sludge paste mellowed out and added a salty, sort of balanced and rounded flavor.
I did not expect this at all. The writers were clearly just throwing words together here, but the flavors and textures actually complement each other. NOTE: You should still not feed this dish to a turtle, regardless of its mutations or age.
Rachel's English Trifle (From Friends)
Ingredients: Ladyfingers, Jam, Custard, Raspberries, More Ladyfingers, Beef Sauteed With Onions And Peas, More Custard, Bananas, Whipped Cream On Top
All right, I'm still standing and we've made it to dessert! This is also by far the most elaborate dish on the list. If you've somehow made it this far in your life without seeing this particular episode, the idea is that Rachel is put in charge of dessert at Thanksgiving and tries to make an English trifle (layers of custard, fruit, and lady fingers) but the pages of the cookbook are stuck together, and she winds up making it with an additional layer of beef. See, people in sitcoms are dumb in a way that real humans never can be.
Before I even get started here, I'm struck by a wave of remorse. I'm so sad to waste all these ingredients on an intentionally stupid dish made by a fictional moron. Then again, if that 7-Layer salad was a magical delight, then maybe there's something hidden in this treasure's beefy alcoves.
I start off by cooking the meat, onion, and peas mixture in some olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. It looks so normal at this stage!
Not at all like it is about to fuck up some taste bud's day.
I know to let it cool before assembly, otherwise it'll just melt the custard and whipped cream. I start putting it together and realize that between this and Lily's salad, I've learned that I am easily seduced by anything layered in a fancy bowl. Like, that's all it takes. Put it in layers and I'll agree to anything. As you can see, mine once again looks exactly like the one depicted in the show, almost down to the atomic level:
The perfection of the presentation is blinding me to all horrors. That said, I serve it up on a dish and get ready to wreck it.
"Wreck" being a key word here.
I put it in my mouth, started chewing, and thought to myself in disbelief "Holy shit ... no way ... is this ... good?" But that's when my teeth and tongue found the beef. Found it with a vengeance.
No one told me life was gonna be this way.
The nausea rushed over me. The revulsion is nearly indescribable. The texture of those tiny little cold, chewy meat fragments is just despicable. And it's crushing, because the initial hit on my tongue is that lovely, soft cream, the tangy-tart jam, and the yielding little cake pillows ... and just like that, BEEF. And I plummet right to hell with the rest of this dessert.
We're done here.
You can find Loryn barfing up words on Twitter
Also check out 6 Awful Sounding Sandwiches From TV (Built And Tested) and 5 Do-It-Yourself Fast Food Recipes Tested for Accuracy.
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.