Beyond water and air, there is nothing in this world more universal than food. Because humans are not capable of photosynthesis, everyone has to eat it and pretty much everyone enjoys that process. But how people enjoy, eat and talk about food obviously varies widely. And that is the cause for some truly great food debates.
We can all talk about whether mushrooms are the ultimate pizza topping or just weird, slimy fungus and whether creamer deserves to be anywhere near a cup of coffee. But some food debates go much, much deeper than a preference. Some shake people to their very core, divide brother against brother and get the kids talking on social media. These are those great food debates that will define our generation.
One of the biggest memes of the last few years has been the new-age question: Is a Pop-Tart a ravioli? What seems like a joke that originated from a Tumblr post actually brings up a valid question. Is any sort of food item that has an outer shell that fully envelopes a filling a ravioli or a dumpling? Some claim yes, and have labeled as ravioli everything from toaster pastries to Uncrustables to humans. However, others stick to the dictionary definition of this dish and say it’s strictly a small circle or square of pasta that is stuffed with meat or cheese. A Pop-Tart is a hand pie.
Not all chicken wings are created equal, even among the best Buffalo wings in America. Just how some people prefer a cake slice with a lot of frosting and others prefer an interior piece, some people like the little drums in a plate of chicken wings and others like the flats. Like many great debates, people took to Twitter to debate drums vs. flats. Drum proponents like the easier eating that comes with that shape, while flat proponents like the breading-to-skin-to-chicken ratio.
Making a PB&J should literally be the easiest thing in the world. You take two pieces of bread, slather them in peanut butter and jelly and then move on. But apparently there is more than one way to do everything, including making a basic sandwich. Some people will take one piece of bread, add peanut butter, put jelly on top of the peanut butter and then add the final slice of bread. Others will put peanut butter on one slice of bread, put jelly on the second slice of bread and then bring the two pieces together.
Bacon is delicious. Unless you’re a vegetarian (or a monster), we can all agree on that. But how cooked should bacon be? Should it be like an all-you-can-eat buffet, where it’s floppy and chewy, or should it be basically burnt to a crisp? Twitter debate queen Chrissy Teigen expressed that she likes a medium-well bacon, with chewy crispy fat and crispy juicy meat. But like all celebrity social media, the debate got out of hand, devolving into whether or not we should even eat pigs — which is its own debate.
Twitter users have opinions on how to remove this breakfast staple from its container. Do you work from one side to the other? Do you grab equally from each side to keep the carton in balance or do you just grab whatever egg looks great? Yes, this is something people actually think about. As for us, as long as we’re cooking up a delicious egg dish, we don’t care where in the carton it comes from. All eggs taste the same.
Everyone has their favorite pizza toppings. Some folks won’t eat a slice without pepperoni, while others think that particular meat is too spicy. But no pizza topping has the internet quite as divided as pineapple. Some people think it’s just fine when paired with ham, others need it on every single slice, and some people think pineapple on pizza is only for weirdos who don’t understand the concept of dinner.
Speaking of things that do or do not belong on pizza: Is ranch a suitable dipping sauce or drizzle on a pie? New Yorkers hate ranch on pizza more than any other food, while Midwesterners feel that dipping crust in a little cup of ranch is as close to heaven as we can get on Earth.
What does the way you eat pizza say about your personality? A lot, apparently. Some people insist on folding their slices, while others just dive right in. More unorthodox pizza eaters will go for a sideways slice or choose to eat their ‘za with a fork and knife. If you really want to go nuts, you can dive into pizza crust-first.
Pizza may just be the most debatable food out there. There are so many incredible pizzas across America, but some stoke controversy just by existing. Yes, we’re talking about deep-dish pizza. Even the best deep-dish in the country is subject to scrutiny: Is a pizza that has a deep, thick crust actually a pizza pie or is it more like a casserole than a flatbread? New Yorkers and pizza purists will call it a casserole, while Chicagoans will defend this signature pie to the death.
You’re pretty much always going to eat a bowl of ice cream with a spoon, and attempting to eat a steak with a spoon would result in some level of madness. But some foods fall in the in between, like macaroni and cheese. In 2018, a survey done by mac and cheese producer Annie’s, 71 percent of adults eat their macaroni with a fork, while 28 percent work with a spoon. But fork users must answer one looming question: What do you do with all the cheese sauce?
Chicagoans like a lot of things on their hot dogs. Mustards, onions, relish… all OK! Even more unorthodox toppings like pickles, hot peppers and celery salt are just fine in the Windy City. But ketchup? Never! In 2017, Heinz tried to market ketchup as “hot dog sauce” and sell it to Chicagoans, who were not buying it. But really, who is putting ketchup on hot dogs after age 12? Let’s leave that sauce for the fries.
What you put on a hot dog isn’t the only questionable thing about that ballpark classic. Here’s a bar debate for the ages: Are hot dogs and burgers sandwiches? From a classification standpoint, yeah, they are. Dictionary.com defines sandwiches as “two or more slices of bread or the like with a layer of meat, fish, cheese, etc., between each pair.” Fair enough, at least when it comes to burgers. Hot dogs, however, are more akin to a sub sandwich, a.k.a. a hero. Speaking of which…
There are a lot of regional food names around America, few of which cause the confusion and commotion of sub vs. hero vs. hoagie. Those long sandwiches with various meats, cheeses and peppers are a great lunch but are known by many names. Beyond sub, hoagie and hero, this food item also goes by grinders, wedges and zeps, among other names. And don’t even get us started on pop vs. soda!
If you’re eating the butt of a loaf of bread, don’t be alarmed. That’s just the end piece. You know the one, with all the extra crust? This starter and final end slice is the cause of much discussion, and like a long sandwich, it goes by many names. According to Twitter, this piece of bread goes by butt, knob, heel, outside and so, so many other names.
“Care-uh-mel” or “Car-mel?” This sweet, sticky treat should be easy enough to pronounce (unless you have a mouthful of it), but there’s plenty of regional debate across America. The Western half of the country pronounces caramel with two syllables, completely ignoring that second “a.” Meanwhile, Southerners and New Englanders embrace that second vowel and spread this candy out to three syllables.
Regional food debates aren’t just limited to what to call something or how to pronounce it. It’s also about cheeseburgers. So, what’s best: In-n-Out or Shake Shack? While a handful of cities have both, In-n-Out is constrained to the West Coast and Texas, and Shake Shack is an East Coast establishment (though it’s rapidly expanding). Both spots have budget-friendly burgers with special sauces and fries and milkshakes with cult followings. Why can’t these burger chains get along? And even better, why can’t these regional chains go national?
At its core, a cheeseburger has cheese, a patty and two buns. It should be simple! But, like anything, it is not. Where does the cheese go on said burger? Google sparked this particular food debate when they launched their burger emoji with the cheese on the bottom. Yes, it went bottom bun, cheese, patty, toppings then top bun. Madness! Everyone knows the cheese goes between the patty and the top bun, right? Apparently not. Cheese-on-the-bottom fans claim that keeping this portion of their burger where it is helps to keep the patty’s juices from leaking to the bottom of the bun. Others, rightfully, insist this is crazy and that is lettuce’s job.
Up until very recently, the world thought it knew everything there was to know about how to eat bagels. You take the bagel, slice it in half, maybe toast it, then add your desired toppings and eat. Enter the city of St. Louis, where, for years, people have been slicing their bagels like a normal loaf of bread. This results in biscotti-shaped pieces of bagel that truly confound people outside of Missouri. Proponents of the “bread-sliced” bagel claim that it allows for maximum amounts of cream cheese per bagel, which, we have to admit is fair.
Millennials love to debate food, but apparently this generation also likes to ruin food. American cheese. Casual chain restaurant dining. Mayonnaise. If the news reports are to be believed, people born between 1981 and 1996 are destroying all of these things. Is everyone just realizing cheddar is better than a cheese-like product or did millennials really kill all these popular food items?
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