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Join small h and I in opening an ironic-foods restaurant!

On another thread, small h inspired me to consider how much $ I could make if I opened a restaurant whose entire menu was ironic. Of course that means we'd serve PBR, and as small h pointed out, we'd have to offer parmesan in the green can.

What else—going beyond the obvious like green bean casserole and Jello salads?

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  1. Any recipe with Velveeta as an ingredient. In soliciting noodle kugel recipes for the upcoming Jewish New Year, a poster on another board offered up a kugel with Velveeta. I will be polite and not explain the irony of that, but it should be evident.

    1. Heavenly hash! You'd HAVE to have Heavenly Hash!
      Grilled cheese and shaved ham
      KABOOM! Cereal
      Celery with peanut butter
      Deviled ham on Triscuits
      pigs in a blanket (vienna sausage, Pillsbury biscuits, and mustard)
      RICE A RONI!
      Cold Duck
      Turkey Croquettes
      Salmon patties
      Swedish meatballs
      Oooo, just think of the great cocktail you could make with Cold Duck and TANG!

      20 Replies
      1. re: ZenSojourner

        <Oooo, just think of the great cocktail you could make with Cold Duck and TANG!>

        I ordered a vodka & grapefruit juice once and was served vodka & grapefruit-flavored Crystal Light. I was disgusted at the time, but now, what with fancy-pants cocktail madness gripping my beloved home town, I think the natural next step is just as you've suggested: powdered drink drinks.

        1. re: small h

          Actually, some 10 years ago a restaurant in Boston, Tremont 647, used to serve a Tang-rimmed drink.

          Cold duck: brilliant. But I'm not sure I get the croquettes and patties? Those sound okay to me... :)

          A restaurant here in Denver makes Spam fries.

          Oh! Hanky pankys (speaking of Velveeta):


          1. re: tatamagouche

            Ooooo, SPAM! How could I have forgotten Spam?

            For an exotic touch, sweet and sour spam or stir-fried spam

            1. re: ZenSojourner

              I think the key, as your own list suggests, would be that the kitchen would NOT make wink-wink high-end versions of any of this: it would actually be stocked with Velveeta, Spam, Jello, Rice-a-Roni, Triscuits, etc. The food would be crap, and the customers would lick it up.

              1. re: ZenSojourner

                Or good ol' Spam sushi, perhaps, for some cross-cultural irony?

                1. re: grayelf

                  Oh my! Now that is TRULY frightening!

                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    It actually tasted okay, but I don't know that I'd go out of my way to try it again.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      I just tried Spam musubi myself the other day at a Hawaiian place. It was...what it was.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        On which island did you first have it?

                        1. re: wew

                          I gather it's everywhere :) See the Wiki reference re 7-Eleven:


                          Once I became aware of it and started talking to people who live or visit there, it was just ubiquitous. Or is that ironic??!?

                2. re: tatamagouche

                  I haven't been there in a while, but my better half once ordered a Buzz Aldrin cocktail with Tang at the Corner Office in Denver.

                  Most chefs have already capitalized on the ironic foods trend. I had a S'mores dessert at Per Se several years ago, forgodssake. In Denver alone you've got Troy Guard of TAG using Pop Rocks as if it were panko, Frank Bonanno dishing out Cap-N-Crunch soft serve at Bones, and Jennifer Jasinski dispensing bombers of Miller Lite in a paper bag at Euclid Hall.

                  1. re: rlm

                    Yes, but this won't be high-end...I'm sure the S'mores were made with homemade graham crackers, marshmallows, and pricey dark chocolate right? This has to be pure crap! Nothing but the worst for our clientele!

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      Frito chile pie
                      Spaghetti O's
                      Little Debbie Snack Cakes
                      Hormel tamales in a can
                      Swanson old-school TV dinners in the foil packages with tons of trans fats
                      Top Ramen
                      Deviled eggs with French's yellow and Miracle Whip--none of these fancy-pants versions with chives, crab, actual seasonings, caviar, or other flourishes
                      White trash casseroles like broccoli-rice with Velveeta, green bean with canned onion strips, or chicken with Lays Original Potato Chips on top
                      S.O.S. (roast beef hash on Wonderbread toast)
                      Green and pink mystery whipped "salads" with mandarin oranges, marshmallows, mayo, cheap chopped nuts, etc.

                      This restaurant would separate hipsters from their cash faster than anything before it ever has.

                      1. re: rlm

                        There's a little fake-mex taco joint in my hometown that does Frito pies. Ate one of those for lunch at least once a week in high school. Yum.

                        1. re: LauraGrace

                          Frito pie is also on the menu at many a Sonic drive-in.

                        2. re: rlm

                          Tamales in a can, YES.

                          Maybe we should get Steve from Steve Don't Eat It! to consult. Maybe he'll give us his decades-old boxes of Urkel-Os.

                          1. re: rlm

                            Mmmmm this is making me crave frito pie. Chili from can!

                        3. re: rlm

                          >> Jennifer Jasinski dispensing bombers of Miller Lite in a paper bag at Euclid Hall.

                          That was Miller High Life... let's get our iconic images right.

                          Also looks like she was serving corn dogs.

                      2. re: small h

                        LOL - vodka and grapefruit flavored crystal light is my go to beach drink. But I would be very disappointed if I ordered a vodka and grapefruit juice.

                        For additional irony, I'd do a hamburger helper kind of thing.

                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                          It's different when it's on purpose. You made a choice (and no judgments - I'm sure that drink has its charms and is very refreshing on a hot day). I was baited & switched.

                    2. OK - I like this thread!

                      Celery with Kraft Old English or Pimento Cheese Spread
                      Trix Cereal
                      Hostess Twinkies, Snow Balls or Chocolate Cup Cakes
                      Tuna and Noodle Casserole
                      Kraft Mac & Cheese
                      Noodles Romanoff
                      Dinty Moore Beef Stew
                      Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup (from the box)
                      Corn Dogs on the stick
                      Chicken Pot Pies from the freezer in the little tins

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: boyzoma

                        I was in a restaurant in Puerto Rico where they had Twinkies on the dessert menu . . .

                        1. re: boyzoma

                          There are some of us who find nothing "ironic" about either Ovaltine or tuna-noodle casserole. Or corn dogs, for that matter. I can see dissing the current North American version of Ovaltine, as it's gotten stupidly sweet, but the stuff of my (far distant) youth is still available in Asian markets here in SoCal. But Mrs. O has this thing about corn dogs that resembles some peoples' relationship with crack cocaine, and if I don't make a tuna-noodle casserole every so often - I introduced her to it, as it was a mainstay of my childhood, not hers - she pesters me until I do.

                          Kraft mac'n'cheese? Okay, I like that, but it's ironic... especially with Oscar Mayer weenies cut up in it.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            I agree that we can disagree on some things. But I love your comment on the Oscar Mayer weenies in it. Did that with both the mac & cheese and the spaghetti-o's. :-)

                            1. re: boyzoma

                              I took a driving vacation through southeastern Belgium and stayed one night at the Luxembourg Hilton. The rooms are outdated but it is a beautiful location. There were many families staying there.

                              For the buffet breakfast, there were many wonderful items. Imagine my surprise when I removed the lid of the buffet server to find... weenies and beans. These weren't American-style baked beans, but the British Heinz in a can style beans. And the weenies were like Libby's Vienna sausages. I suppose that's why they're called Vienna sausages, just didn't think they'd show up at a Hilton.

                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                Oh, that really is bad. I feel for you! I know all too well about Heinz beans. My mom used to try to change them up by adding ketchup, brown sugar, diced ham and pineapple and then bake for an hour or so!

                          2. re: boyzoma

                            the comment about Lipton soup from the box reminded me of one...

                            Good Seasons Italian dressing from a packet.

                          3. Prepare something like pressed duck with an entirely automated method (from slaughter to plating) and deliver it to diners in their cars via conveyor belt or bank tube.

                            1. Hi-C and Hawaiian Punch
                              Boone's Farm and Annie Green Springs "wine"
                              Pineapple upside down cake
                              Pillsbury Dinner rolls from those cardboard tubes or packaged rolls from the bread aisle.
                              Instant mashed potatoes
                              Minute Rice
                              Drake’s Coffee Cake, Devil Dogs, Yankee Doodles, Funny Bones, and Ring Dings
                              Salisbury Steak w/brown gravy
                              Canned peas, green beans, or asparagus
                              Flavor straws

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: al b. darned

                                YES on Boone's Farm and Pillsbury rolls especially.

                                And: cereal milk! We'll "infuse" our own, of course. Also, milk and Pepsi.

                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                  milk and Pepsi.

                                  Together? Never heard of that.

                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                      Can you say "Sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated" !!!!!

                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                        Never been much of sitcom watcher....especially that one.

                                      2. re: al b. darned

                                        Used to be made with Coke at soda fountains and called a Brown Cow.

                                  1. The restaurant's shelf life will be in inverse proportion to the food's shelf life, I think.

                                    It also bears noting that a lot of the foods listed in this thread are not ironic at all in large areas of the United States...even parts of New York, I would wager.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: travelmad478

                                      Where is the irony in any of them?
                                      Have you sweet young things confused nostalgia with irony?

                                      1. re: 512window

                                        This thread began as part of another thread, with my surly response to one of those "people who don't eat meat are so weeeeeird" comments:


                                        And then it went in 5 or 6 other directions and wound up over here. In case you're interested.

                                        1. re: 512window

                                          I'm 40, hardly a SYT. The irony is in paying to eat truly awful food you could pay less for if you bought them in a store. (Agreed, not all of the suggestions are actually bad in my book.)

                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                            Hmmm, I'd still like a bit more of a definition here, myself.
                                            That said, I can see how people treating crap food as somehow special because it's in a restaurant can provide an ironic take on the idea of trends and trendy restaurants. But I'm not sure how the food itself is ironic, so help here would be appreciated.

                                            (Think of this as a retread of that scene in Reality Bites-- you're the right age for that.)

                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                              I agree, they are not all bad, I just couldn't see myself paying for them in a restaurant, but I certainly know people who would (which is unfortunate in my book).

                                        2. Tater Tots!! And "Ranch" dip!

                                          1. Aren't there any ironic foods that taste good or that one would want to order? So far I think I would only order the PBR.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sekelmaan

                                              Only 20-year-old hipsters with their parents' cash. Hence the killing we wil make.

                                            2. Could someone please explain if there is a different meaning to "irony" here than the generally accepted meaning. None of these foodstuffs appear to be ironic. Have some people misread the title as "iconic"?

                                              And to answer the OP, I'm unsure how a foodstuff could be thought of as being ironic - food is food.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: Harters

                                                Perhaps this will help to understand why a perfectly good word is now "trendy."

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  The point is that people would pay a premium to eat food that to most of us seems cheap and tasteless (not, granted necessarily bad things). Jeez, people, it's a jokey post...

                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                    It would be nice if you responded to the questions around the joke not with 'jeez' but with an explanation as to what exactly is the joke. Perhaps there are still those of us out there who can't listen to Alanis Morisette without muttering at the speakers, 'That's not irony!' (And yes, we are called pedants.)

                                                    The problem is not the joke, but that you've chosen a word so many use and yet so few are actually able to define. So if you could define through a greater explanation, it would be great. I offered a hand elsewhere in the thread but this looks to be all yours.

                                                    Questionable terminology aside, just about 18 years ago, a friend of mine and I joked about starting a restaurant called 'Home' in which people sat in arm chairs and used TV trays as they were served many of the foods you all have already mentioned. Actually, if they were TV dinners, even better for us. Nothing ironic, we were just having a go at trends... and maybe also speculating on how to make cash.

                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                      Just Googling on "ironic" & "food", I turned up a newspaper article about snobby food trends. The author gives an example of ironic food that I think exactly fits the bill - not just as a possible example of real food but, also, in line with a generally regarded definition of irony. Yes, indeed, fellow pedants, this is the one. He offers:

                                                      Foie gras hamburger served in a brioche bun.

                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        Lizard, you know there are now restaurants (several around the country) named Home?

                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                          Agreed, Alanis's song isn't about irony...and believe me, I'm chock full of pedantry...

                                                          I just thought I did explain it above thread is all. The hipsters pay to eat the crap food knowing it's crap; they're eating it ironically (i.e., in the very act of eating they are expressing an incongruity between their actions and their knowledge). The same way they've been wearing highwaters and bad mustaches and sideburns ironically. To what extent the joke is on them or on those who think the joke is on them is a whole different matter...

                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                            The winner of the National Spelling Bee earns $30K, and Alanis probably earned $1M for misuse of a 6 letter word. That's a little more ironic than a black fly in her chardonnay.

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              dingdingding! we have a winner for best comment of the day.

                                                              that Alanis song really irks me...but she's taken so much flack for it over the years that i'd be willing to bet she'll NEVER misuse the word "ironic" again :)

                                                      2. re: Harters

                                                        I, too, had to think this logic through. I take it to be mocking what people think of as good food. Ironic as in "poignant incongruity between what is expected and what actually is;" you expect a restaurant to have regular foods and you get these "foods," like you expect a cheeseburger to have actual cheese rather than "prepared cheese product."

                                                      3. Jummbo shrimp>>>> the ultimate irony

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: phantomdoc

                                                          I would have called that an oxymoron.

                                                        2. Not sure if I'm catching the "ironic" thing correctly, but there is a bar named Bobbo's up in Robinsonville, MS that has both fish sticks *and* pizza rolls on their menu! I'm pretty sure that a PBR can be had there as well!

                                                          1. *seafood Newburg using itty bitty canned shrimp served over a Pillsbury roll of some sort

                                                            *cup 'o soups, have hot water in a fancy carafe and perhaps have the waiter sprinkle the dry mix into the bowl until the customer says "when" - sort of a la pepper grinder technique.

                                                            *Fruit cocktail! Fruit cocktail diet parfait (with cottage cheese)! Both with a red maraschino cherry on top.

                                                            *mini cheese cakes with vanilla wafer bottom and pie filling fruit as the topping.

                                                            *chef boy r d (?) personal pan pizzas.

                                                            *any commercial boxed cake mix, made into cup cakes and decorated by a group of 7 year old's with access to every gel, candy topping,canned frosting, etc. found at the local discount grocery.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                              Um, the Cup o' Soup idea is brilliant! As are the 7-year-old bakers. Maybe they can decorate tableside?

                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                Or have an open kitchen concept - put one in charge ( a mini Gordan Ramsey) and folks will come for the show! Kind of Kitchen Nightmares without the tattoos....

                                                            2. Those alphabet french fries? Or am I being nostalgic and not ironic?

                                                              Tater tots, Frito casserole, tuna casserole, Hamburger Helper, cakes made in an Easy Bake oven, La Choy crispy noodles on top of Chow Mein . . . am I getting close?

                                                              What about White Castle hamburgers? Serving another restaurant's food definitely qualifies as ironic, right?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: guilty

                                                                Ooo, yeah, the Easy Bake is a great idea! Take it to the table and let the customers make their deserts tableside!

                                                                1. re: guilty

                                                                  Ach, they Easy-Bake oven is a brilliant idea.. I just saw a website that offers instructions for making your own "cake" mix refill powder at home.

                                                                2. Oh, oh, oh! Chun King Chow Mein, and Chow Mein Noodles! Served with pineapple chunks for variety!

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                    yessss!! though the brand in our house was La Choy :)

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      Actually it was more often La Choy, now that you mention it. I don't think Chun King is around anymore (except maybe soy sauce), but La Choy is.

                                                                      It's those two-part cans I remember.

                                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                        "It's those two-part cans I remember."
                                                                        yup. back in those days, that separate compartment on the top for the noodles was just. so. cool.

                                                                        every time i think about that stuff, i shudder. it really bore a striking resemblance to canned pet food (and if memory serves, it had a similar aroma as well).

                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                          My mother loved that stuff. And no, it really wasn't very good, and it wasn't even close to anything that could even in the most generous mood be considered "authentic" to Chinese cuisine, but in a time and a place where knowledge of foreign places was limited and access to "foreign" ingredients was even more limited, it brought an air of the exotic to people who's lives were much more circumscribed than ours are.

                                                                          If I'm making fun of these foods, its in good spirits, and with no slight intended to people who like them. I honestly don't see that Velveeta is somehow less acceptable than cheese, I just happen not to like it. However, I'd eat Velveeta by the pound in preference to Limburger. Even in the face of people who will take that statement as justification to sneer at my lack of a "palate".

                                                                          There's a place in my life - and my heart (aside from potential for cardiovascular damage, LOL!) - for things like Twinkies and fried bologna and milk toast. These things have a place on my table. Someone once tried to insult me by calling me a peasant, but what is a peasant, really? A peasant is someone who lives close to the land, raises his or her own food, and enough beyond that for the "laird" and his bully-boys as well. Peasants lived hard-scrabble lives with little of nobility about them, often short brutal lives - and yet they lived. Most people, throughout history, have been peasants, having the fruit of their labor taken from them by people with bigger sticks, and yet somehow surviving, and however brutal their lives seem to us now, even finding spots of joy, contentment, happiness - enough to go on. Enough to keep the wolves from the door. Literally. A good part of that is "peasant food".

                                                                          So I'm proud to be a "peasant". And just now I wish I had some of that La Choy Chicken Chow Mein and some "crispy noodles" to slosh it over, with a good dollop of soy sauce to boot, in fond remembrance.

                                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                            Someone called you a peasant? As an insult? Jeez, were they visiting from the feudal era?

                                                                            There's a resto in NY also called Peasant. And it ain't cheap. Which I actually find kind of offensive. (But at least it's not called Ironic Peasant.)

                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                              I've seen $12.00 po-boys on restaurant menus before. I found that pretty offensive (but it was also pretty damn good)...

                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                Yeah, don't you just have to wonder where people come up with this stuff sometimes?

                                                                                LOL @ Ironic Peasant!

                                                                    2. Ironic? Would this be a place featuring "Jumbo Shrimp?"

                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                          My favorite line from the article: "...like people wondering what kind of wine goes with Cheez Whiz? (Answer: Lambrusco.) ..."

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            Gotta love it. Boxed wine. If they do have any bottled, it would have to be Boones Farm, Annie Green Springs or Mad Dog.

                                                                            And the funny part - I live here and didn't know that place existed!

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                              I love the idea of a Hot Dog Flight. Has anyone actually eaten at The Original?

                                                                              1. re: rlm

                                                                                check the Portland board to see if anyone has posted about it.

                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                      Very interesting reviews! May just have to try the place out myself!

                                                                            2. hate to rain on anyone's parade but some kids did a place like this in SF around 1998 in the SOMA nightclub-y area. did a brisk business until people sobered up and realized they couldn't even heat tater tots or pigs in a blanket right. can't remember the name but it had something to do with trailers.

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                Ha ha...See it works! So long as we brush up on our heating skills.

                                                                                Or better, reheating: I've actually *always* wanted to open a restaurant that served only leftovers. Like everything has to be made the day before, then recooked in some way for maximum effect.

                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                      Bwahahaha !!!!!!!!! That's a good one!

                                                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                    For some time I've thought about offering both Soup D'Jour and Soup D'Hier (soup from yesterday). It makes sense as well as humor since most soups are better on the second day...

                                                                                    Not sure how well the public would appreciate this fact, though. (Or, now that I think of it, how many would understand the French? Maybe it'd be more like a culinary in-joke. Or a sort of take on P.T. Barnum's "This way to the egress" sign.)

                                                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                      If anyone remembers the Dagwood and Blondie comic strip... He came home from work one evening asking, "What's for dinner?"... She said proudly, "Srevotfel"... Dagwood said, "Sounds exotic"... Then looking at the platter, he adds, "Looks like what we had yesterday"... Blondie replies, "yes... srevotfel is leftovers spelled backwards..."

                                                                                      We often have Srevotfel for dinner, and have often thought it would make a great name for a restaurant serving such fare...

                                                                                      1. re: artopathy

                                                                                        but is it a leftover if it's something that takes a day or two to cook in the first place?

                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                          I think if the cooks take a bite of it when they're cooking, and plus it's reheated/tinkered with on day 2, it counts. :)

                                                                                          Like Tuscan ribollita. Starts as a stew, then the next day you can bake it and it's more casserole like.

                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                            I'd like to extend the concept then and re-launch it as "Day-Old Bread" featuring potage d'hier

                                                                                  2. Are you sure you don't mean "Iconic"?

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: CharlieKilo

                                                                                      Yes, I'm sure. See explanation above.

                                                                                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                          Heh. Just speaking the hipsters' language.

                                                                                    2. It would be ironic if your franchises were a big hit in Highlands Ranch, Greenwood Village, Cherry Creek, Castle Pines, Vail, Avon, Cordillera, Boulder.....but struck out in Aurora and Federal Heights :)

                                                                                      1. ironic to me would be cup of noodles... who needs someone to cook that ;)

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Emme

                                                                                          well Emme, if we're going to charge you $6.95, we really should do something to it for you.

                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                            i expect you to deliver hot water to the table with it, then ladle in the hot water, and lay the spoon over the paper top while it cooks, set a timer, and return to remove the paper lid. bon appetit. if you'd like to serve a fruit roll-up on the side, i'd appreciate you wrapping it around my finger.

                                                                                            1. re: Emme

                                                                                              "if you'd like to serve a fruit roll-up on the side, i'd appreciate you wrapping it around my finger." Thanks for my laugh of the night! (it's good that I'm sitting here by myself... I'm still giggling...)

                                                                                              1. re: Emme

                                                                                                " if you'd like to serve a fruit roll-up on the side, i'd appreciate you wrapping it around my finger." Thanks for my laugh of the night Emme! (Good thing I'm sitting here by myself... I'm still giggling...)

                                                                                                1. re: Emme

                                                                                                  would you prefer the water mineral, spring or fresh? a timer won't be necessary. and the roll-up is made in house from my grandmothers fruit trees grown from heirloom stock and finished with hand rendered gelatin. we could offer the choice of mulberry, cherry or apple, but despite our painstaking artisanal measures it all tastes the same in the end.

                                                                                                  moist towlettes are always complimentary.

                                                                                              2. Frozen crinkle cut fries, with ranch dressing

                                                                                                Lipton's cup o' soup (made table side)

                                                                                                Iceberg lettuce salad with good season's dressing made table side :)

                                                                                                And of course 40 oz. beer served in a paper bag. Already popular here in SF amongst the hipster crowd.

                                                                                                Night Train wine.