Welcome to Delicious or Distressing, where we rate recent food memes, videos, and other decidedly unserious news. Last week we discussed Love Is Blind contestants being deprived of food and forced to drink in excess.
Gun to my head, if asked to choose between Taylor Swift tickets and a year of unlimited pizza, I’m takin’ the pizza (meant to be read à la Jennifer Coolidge in Legally Blonde re: dog). A New Orleans pizza shop proposed this very tit-for-tat exchange of a coveted pair of tix for at least one full year of free pizza. I’ll concede: I’m neither particularly pro–Taylor Swift nor anti–Taylor Swift, so perhaps I’m not the best candidate to adjudicate this thought experiment. Another concession: Obviously this pizza would not be “free,” per se, but where there’s a will there’s a way, and I feel confident I can make this arrangement pay for itself. And when taking into consideration sheer value and long-term satisfaction, alongside the comfort of knowing that a full pie could be mine at my whim, it’s pizza for me, no question.
In other food news happenings, Salt Bae has shockingly maintained his relevance for many years beyond what was supposed to be 15 minutes of fame—but this time the limelight is negative. Employees at his franchise of restaurants are alleging tip theft and discrimination, and Bae is rightfully taking some heat for it. Also under scrutiny is Graza’s CEO, who hastily accused another brand of copying their bottles and then was immediately humbled and reminded that he did not, indeed, invent the concept of a squeeze bottle. He apologized. But Wendy’s is here to cut the negativity—and we love her for that—by offering deals on some items to cope with Mercury being in retrograde.
Here’s everything else new in food internet culture this week.
I remember it all too well—when tickets for the Eras Tour went on sale. It still haunts me to this day. I was sitting at my desk for 10 hours, watching ticket after ticket vanish from my cart. I thought it was all over until my friend texted me to say she scored us two seats to the Philly show. We did it, I thought. We won! Then I went on TikTok later that night and immediately felt guilty: So. Many. Heartbroken. Fans. To say the Ticketmaster fiasco was a mess is a bit of an understatement. That’s why I’m never surprised when I read about the lengths dedicated Swifties will go to to get their hands on tickets. In NOLA, Zee’s Pizzeria offered up free pizza for a year in exchange for two tickets. I wasn’t sure if it would work…but an anti-antihero emerged. One customer named Jeanine had an extra pair of tickets for the show in Houston, and pizzeria owner Zanger White and his wife were able to go last Sunday to NRG Stadium. I want to say Zanger and his wife are the real winners in this story, but I don’t know. The best pizza in life is free. Jeanine can cash in whenever she doesn’t feel like cooking. 5/5 delicious. —Esra Erol, senior social media manager
Surprise! A man made famous by internet memes whose trademark look is a scoop neck T-shirt and sunglasses is not a good person! A recent report by Insider revealed that Salt Bae, legal name Nusret Gökçe, is facing various and wide-ranging allegations of tip theft and discrimination. Insider’s report is a roller-coaster ride of a read, and there is no shortage of deranged anecdotes. Apparently, for instance, when Gökçe is walking around a restaurant dining room salting diners’ steaks (with his signature move), there is one employee deemed “salt boy” (!!!) who follows him from table to table holding bowl of salt for sprinkling, presumably for hours. “Salt boy!” I imagine Gökçe proclaiming, “fetch me my salt!” There were, of course, several other allegations of truly horrible behavior, including sexual harassment and physical intimidation—maybe people should start buying their overpriced steaks elsewhere? Just my two cents. I’m giving this a salty, grimy, thoroughly uncool 4.7/5 distressing. —Sam Stone, staff writer
If I had a nickel every time Graza cofounder and CEO Andrew Benin personally wrote an earnest apology to the public, I’d have two nickels, which isn’t a lot, but it’s funny that it’s happened twice. Last holiday season Benin apologized for shipping issues. This week, in a LinkedIn post, he accused Brightland and its founder, Aishwarya Iyer, of copying Graza’s product—specifically, it seems, its iconic squeeze bottle. “I think it’s okay to get miffed when folks rip you off,” he wrote. But a lot of people disagreed. “With all due respect, you did not create the squeeze bottle,” replied Alison Cayne, the founder of New York cooking school Haven’s Kitchen. In a few hours, Benin seemed to get cold-pressed feet and posted an apology. “I was heated, and reacted poorly,” he said. I commend Benin for saying sorry and Iyer for minding her own business and staying completely absent through the hours-long drama. This was fun, no one was hurt, we learned an important lesson about friendship. Like a 30-minute sitcom episode, it was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing—and distracting us from the void while it could. 3.5/5 delicious. —Karen Yuan, culture editor