My terminally cranky ass took misanthropy to a new level a few years back when I managed to piss and moan about something as angst-proof as Thanksgiving foods, the gist of the rant being that if those foods were so delicious, why don’t we eat them all year? It’s not like in olden times when the destitute (and apparently allergic-to-condoms) Cratchit family had to save all year just so that frumpy wife of his could whip up the once-a-year savory sensation that was plum pudding. (Or was it figgy pudding? Matters not. The word “pudding” is disgusting, as is pudding itself.)
We eat holiday foods mostly out of habit and nostalgia, not because they are delicious. If I had my way, I’d never eat another plate of hot turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. I’d much prefer some enchiladas or lasagna with my Thanksgiving Detroit Lions slaughter.
This “Most Holiday Foods Suck” theory holds true at Christmas time, too. The following foods and treats just aren’t that good. The only reason most of us choke them down is so that we evoke memories of our pasts, and then only if your past didn’t include a sausage-fingered, gin-soaked uncle introducing you to his version of holiday “stuffing.”
Here’s why the following Christmas season foods are overrated:
Gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses: Gingerbread cookies are pretty good. For 11 months out of the year, these cookies are round, of perfect size and easy to eat. Yet come Christmas, this delightful little cookie gets shaped into an overweight, creepy child molester of a man, much too big to eat and much too scary to want near your mouth.
Or we get whole goddamn gingerbread house, an obscene exercise food wasting, as I’ve never once seen someone eat even the doormat of a gingerbread house. Africans are eating dried corn meal while we’re using food to for mini-construction projects.
Why? Because gingerbread isn’t all that great. If it were, we’d make gingerbread flags in July and gingerbread Ninas, Pintas and Santa Marias in October. Just give me a gingersnap and stop using dough to make crafts.
Candy canes: Peppermint is a little intense, hence the standard 3/4-inch diameter of the after-dinner mint found on the hostess stands of many restaurants. That quarter-sized candy is the amount of peppermint the average human can tolerate.
Yet every December, we’re supposed to enjoy a hook-shaped, brittle, sticky treat that no one in the history of candy-eating has ever finished. I used to get them hooked onto the outside of my stocking. I was more excited about the socks I found inside the stocking than I was about the solely ornamental candy canes I’d bury in the garbage when no one was looking.
Fruitcake: This inedible food has been made fun of forever and with good cause. It’s not the black hole-level density that gets me, nor is it the horrible taste and texture. What offends me about fruitcake is the dried fruit. Fruit is one of the reasons to stay alive on this planet. Fresh fruit, that is. Why anyone would take any fruit, a food group that almost makes me believe in god, and then dry it out and stuff into a cardboard-flavored cake is an affront to nature.
And if fruitcake is so good, why has no one in the history of the planet ever had a birthday fruitcake in May?
Eggnog: You’re at a party. Alcohol options abound. A person can choose among beer, wine and liquor to help kill the season-induced depression, to make co-workers tolerable, to help a person cope with the realization that the people you’re with are from the same gene pool.
I’ve never actually seen this, but I hear that some people actually choose to drink eggnog, which makes perfect sense, because who wouldn’t eschew the warm, smoky glow of red wine or the brain-numbing solace of a martini when a thick, frothy mixture of raw eggs and cream is available? Of all the ways to deliver alcohol to my bloodstream, using liquefied eggs will never be an option … in December of any other time of the year.
Cutout cookies: Oooohhhh look! There’s the holiday cookie display! I see chocolate chip, double chocolate, seven-layer cookie bars, island treasures and six other perfect mixtures of nuts, sugar, chocolate, butterscotch and god knows what other heaven-sent confectionery delights. But you know what? I think I’ll skip those and grab some of these bland little sugar cookies formed into the shape of snowmen, stars and reindeer and flavored with that gritty green and red sprinkle shit that – just like cutout cookies – never seems to make an appearance on the menu during the other eleven month of the year.
Buckeyes: Buckeyes look delicious, but I can’t enjoy them because all I can think about when I see one is the nauseating thirty seconds the peanut butter ball spent being rolled around in someone’s ebola-laden palms. I can’t get out of my mind some uncaring cook having just returned from using the bathroom, scooping the litter box or jerking out a few sticky jizz ropes and then not bothering to wash his or her hands.
When someone invents a Buckeye Roller that ensures the absence of dried ejaculate being rubbed into the treat, I’ll start eating buckeyes.
Nuts in the shell: I’ve been to many households over the holidays that have had a welcoming bowl of nuts sitting out for holiday guests. This would be a great treat if I could reach into said bowl, grab a handful of almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts and begin chomping.
But I can’t do that, because the “hosts with the most” have decided that the 1880’s quaintness of a bowl of unshelled nuts offsets the knuckle-breaking, carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing torment of cracking open one nut at a time, with the added bonus of biting into the occasional molar-splitting walnut shell. Talk about holiday hospitality.
I always want to say, “Thanks again, folks! Can’t wait to visit next year, when perhaps you’ll have us butcher a steer and harvest potatoes if we want dinner.”
Ham: Yeah, right. As if. Ham’s fucking awesome.
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.