Category Archives: Food and race

The official snack of hip hop

Rap Snacks
I was rummaging around in the garage and stumbled upon a box labeled “Rap Snacks.” Buried treasure!

A few years ago, I started collecting Rap Snacks purely because they make me laugh. How could I resist something named “Bar-b-quin’ With My Honey Flavored Chips?” Each Rap Snacks bag has an illustration of a rapper along with a positive message, which leads to an incongrous (and in my mind, hilarious) effect. For example, Extra Hot Red Hot Riplets features Murphy Lee and the line “Pimp education.” What does that even mean?!

Other fine flavors, rap artists and words to live by:
-Honeydew Cheese Curls, Magic, “Reading is fundamental.”
-Cheezie Nacho, Warren G, “Respect your elders.”
-Sour Cream & Onion, Dirt McGirt, “Think responsibly.”

While I appreciate the sentiment behind Rap Snacks, I’m skeptical that inner city youth (the target audience for Rap Snacks) are going to take these sentiments to heart. Plus why do Rap Snacks have to be so unhealthy? One bag of chips has around 25-30 grams of fat and as much as 1,760 mg of sodium (the daily recommended amount is 1,500).

I realize that when it comes to chips, health isn’t the main priority so it all comes down to taste. I haven’t liked any of the Rap Snacks I’ve sampled, but gives 11 flavors good reviews. Head down to your local “urban” grocery store/minimart/bodega and try some for yourself. The store undoubetably needs, and will appreciate, your business.


Filed under Food and race, Savory

“What the f@#k is juice?!”

Calpico drinks featuring Hello Kitty
When my husband visits an Asian grocery store, he often will buy me a food item featuring Hello Kitty. Recently he bought me two Calpico beverages. While I enjoyed the adorable Hello Kitty images, I most certainly did not like the completely artifical “strawberry” and “mango” drinks. I did appreciate that unlike some other fruit imposters, Calpico is totally upfront about how fake it is. It feels almost like the company is proud of it. On the back of the bottle, above the nutrition facts, it says in bold letters, “Contains 1% Juice.”

Dave Chappelle does a hilarious commentary on food and race, including the difference between grape juice and grape “drink.” WARNING: contains NSFW language, including the n-word.

All kidding aside, millions of kids across America–particularly poor kids of color–are growing up consuming gallons of assorted flavors of “drink.” What’s wrong with that? As Dave says, “Ain’t no vitamins in that shit.”

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Filed under Food and race, Sweet

The cold truth

I went to bed late last night, and I had one of those moments of clarity that only come when I’m semiconscious at 1am. I realized that my lack of enthusiasm for the frozen yogurt trend might be connected to a significant event in my past.

I’ve only been fired once in my life, and it happened when I worked at a frozen yogurt shop.

The place was called Yogido’s, and it was in the food court of my local mall. I worked there when I was a junior in high school.

Yogido’s had a wacky premise. It sold frozen yogurt and…donuts. Hence the “clever” name. It also had a salad bar. I know–huh? We didn’t even make the donuts. The owners would buy a few dozen from the grocery store and bring them in to resell.

The weirdeness didn’t end there. Yogido’s was located next to a Mexican restaurant called Johnny Chilito’s. The two places were owned by the same people so I also worked there. (On a side note, who thinks, frozen yogurt and Mexican food–what a great business opportunity!)

The owners were a Korean couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ryu. When I interviewed for the job, the only questions I remember them asking me were “Are you Christian?” and “When will you go to church?” (They needed someone to work the Sunday morning shift.) I said I was Catholic and could attend mass on Saturdays (which I actually did do).

Mrs. Ryu was not a popular boss. Her last name was pronounced “roo” and some of the workers would call her “Kanga” behind her back. (Hey, remember we were in high school!) I despised working with Mrs. Ryu because I couldn’t understand a single word she said. I know I wrote a post blasting Food Network for dubbing Masaharu Morimoto, but I can understand him. Mrs. Ryu’s accent was so impenetrable, I couldn’t even guess what she was saying. She would tell me to do something, and I would ask “What did she say?” to my friend Kara through gritted teeth. (The irony of this is that Kara is white and could understand Mrs. Ryu while I, an Asian American, could not.)

One night I was working with Mrs. Ryu. She watched me scoop ice for a customer’s drink and said something to me. I knew she was giving me some kind of direction, but I had no idea what it was.

Frustrated, I muttered something like, “I know what I’m doing” in Mrs. Ryu’s general direction. She looked at me sharply, and I understood her then. It was my last night as one of her employees.

Sure enough, when I came to check the work schedule the next week, my name wasn’t on it. That was how the Ryus let you know you were fired.

Now that I’m older, I can see myself through Mrs. Ryu’s eyes. She probably thought I was a disrespectful girl who couldn’t listen. The thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a rule follower, a team player. I respect my elders and authority. I’ve always prided myself on my listening skills and my empathy for others.

But maybe this sense of my self only holds true if the situation is easy–if the person is likeable and seems to like me and seems to be like me.

Who thought frozen yogurt could cause so much introspection?!

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Filed under Essays, Food and race

Food Network missing key ingredient?

Pat and Gina Neely
During February, Food Network ran a curious promo spot. It featured two of its newest personalities (pictured above) who said, “Hi, we’re Pat and Gina Neely, hosts of Down Home With the Neelys. Join us and Food Network as we celebrate Black History Month.”

Every time I saw the spot, it bothered me, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. It finally came to me a few days ago. What exactly was the channel doing to celebrate Black History Month? Featuring classic African American recipes on its Web site? Examining George Washington Carver’s influence on food and agriculture? Highlighting the nation’s top black chefs? Uh, no.

Instead it ran this awkward promo that had the feeling of being put together at the last moment. It was like someone said, “Oh yeah, we have to do something for Black History Month. Anyone available?” (Cue chirping crickets.)

I watch Food Network constantly, but until now, I’ve never considered just how lacking in diversity it is. Sure, there are two or three shows hosted by black people, that one Latina lady and those gay guys. But by and large, Food Network’s leading personalities are mostly–as Dave Chappelle would say–white dudes. (Yes, I’m aware of Rachael Ray and the other ladies on the channel, but it’s still mostly dominated by men. )

In January, We Are Never Full wrote a post titled “News Shocker! Diversity Finally Comes to Food Network!” that discussed the Neelys and the cable channel’s pervasive whiteness. It also addressed something that I’ve also thought was weird and offensive–the use of dubbing for Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto. (I’ve always found Jamie Oliver and his thick British accent harder to understand than Morimoto.)

“[The Food Network] completely degrades him every time he’s on Iron Chef by dubbing some dudes voice over his own. HE IS SPEAKING ENGLISH WHEN YOU DUB OVER HIM WITH ENGLISH!!!! I understand he has a strong accent, but at least let us hear the master speak. For fuck’s sake, degrade him a bit less by using subtitles. I wonder if this pisses him off?”

Should I be glad that that Food Network is trying to add some color to its programming with the Neelys and that it bothered to remember Black History Month? Sorry, this time there’s no “A” for effort.


Filed under Essays, Food and race