Welcome to Delicious or Distressing, where we rate recent food memes, videos, and other decidedly unserious news. Last week we discussed Martha Stewart’s perfect Sports Illustrated cover.
The ancient ritual of proudly whipping out your drivers’ license to an unflinching bouncer on your 21st birthday could be at peril—that is, if Amazon has its way. With its very spooky, very Black Mirror-esque palm-reading technology, it could now allow bar-goers to prove they’re of age with an unceremonious wave of the hand. How will the teens get their fakes in this dystopian age? Palmprint botox?
Meanwhile, Taco Bell is wagering a legal battle against the trademark on “Taco Tuesday,” which is beheld by lesser-known rival chain Taco John’s. In said legal battle, they’ve joined forces with basketball star LeBron James, for whom the restrictive trademark is apparently a longstanding and deeply personal qualm. Another chain, Panda Express, is sponsoring a postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Pennsylvania’s Asian American Studies program, and I want (need) that line on my resumé. Lastly, Resy is adding an exclamation point to its confirmation texts, following an Eater story decrying its previously icy, exclamation-less tone—proving at once the power of journalism and the paper-thin skin of society, myself included.
Here’s everything else new in food internet culture this week.
Every day, Amazon releases some new horror into the world that moves us closer to dystopia, where any product ever made can arrive at your door in fifteen minutes via military grade drone (or something). Today’s horror is a device that scans your palm to determine if you’re old enough to drink alcohol—and they’re already set to debut it at the home stadium of the MLB’s Colorado Rockies, with plans for rollout at other establishments soon. Using biometric data isn’t new, and Amazon has already given this kind of thing a try at grocery stores, violating some laws in the process. A lot of people have privacy concerns, and are worried about how this technology and data could eventually be exploited or leaked, but I think those people are forgetting one crucial thing: Hand-scanning technology could help lines move faster! Imagine the 45 seconds you’ll save waiting for beer at a baseball game in exchange for the very personal, unchangeable data of your literal body stored in a data cloud owned by Amazon! Just kidding, I’m moving to the forest and never coming back, bye!!!!! I’m giving this one an ominous, under-regulated 5/5 distressing. — Sam Stone staff writer
NBA superstar LeBron James and Taco Bell just teamed up to publicly litigate a battle against Taco John’s, a Midwestern Tex-Mex chain, and the chain’s trademark on the term “Taco Tuesday.” With Taco John’s currently holding the trademark, Taco Bell can’t use the term in its marketing without potential legal repercussions. James (who has documented his family’s taco nights in the past) tried to trademark the term last year, and was denied on the basis of “Taco Tuesday” being a “commonplace term,” according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Apparently this was all a very circuitous effort to prove his argument that the term shouldn’t be trademarked in the first place. Particularly given James’ celebrity and name recognition, it’s more likely than not that the whole thing’s a big PR stunt. Whether or not Taco Tuesday enters the public domain will also likely have no bearing on Taco Bell’s standing as the de facto taco fast food chain, so it feels like a convenient excuse for them to partner with LeBron. As for me, I just want to eat my cute little taco on a Tuesday in peace, but I’m down for the cause. Taco Tuesday is for the people. 2.1/5 delicious —Julia Duarte, art assistant
Resy’s confirmation text! Has! An exclamation point now! Anyone who’s tried to grab a restaurant seat in any city will know that the reservation platform used to send diners a confirmation text that said, in what some folks (me) considered a mean and sarcastic tone: “Great, done. Thanks.” Those days of negativity and anger are over. This week, Resy announced the text now says: “Great, done. Thanks!” Enormous difference. I’m excited to no longer spiral whenever it confirms a restaurant reservation for me, scrolling through our previous texts to analyze where I went wrong. I can’t wait to feel affirmed and validated whenever I press the little “Confirm” button. I’m not alone—Eater’s Jaya Saxena remonstrated against the lack of an exclamation point a month ago. And then came this update. That’s what I call impact journalism. Now, I don’t think I’m asking for much, Resy, but what about two exclamation points next? Or “I just wanted to say” at the start of the sentence? Or “sorry” at the end, to be safe? 4.4/5 delicious, thanks! —Karen Yuan, culture editor
It’s the best takeout option in any American mall (yes I will die on this hill). And now, it’s getting into…academia. Panda Express bagged up all the cash earned from hawking literal hundreds of millions of pounds of its trademarked Original Orange Chicken every year, and handed a chunk of it over to the University of Pennsylvania to fund the Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellowship in Asian American Studies. Truly, this would be an iconic talking point on any budding scholar’s CV. The program will hire five over the next three years, and successful fellows will score a $65,000 stipend—and be required to teach one course per semester, plan an event or workshop, and help strategize on Asian American studies programming. Now this is how gazillionaire food corporations should be spending money—nobody needs another baguette-shaped purse, okay? That’s a super crispy, sweet-salty 4.7/5 delicious for Panda Express. —Ali Francis, staff writer