Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Down Home Foodie Archives: Waffle House

Sorry to say, but for once I've fallen a little behind on blogging.  The main reason is that I teach freshman composition at a university, and we are in the last two weeks of the semester.  So, with 640 pages of student work to read and grade, I wasn't able to get a new post together.  

I'll have something new for you on Thursday.  Promise.  

Until then, I went back in the vault and pulled out the first piece I ever wrote for the blog.  For those of you who have read it, I cleaned it up a bit to make it a little fresher.   For the rest of you, well it is already new to you.

The Hash Brown Rorschach Test
I read an article once called, “For the Love of Joe,” and it was about how Starbucks uses the idea of "love" to market themselves.  The article talks about how Starbucks sells love through not just philanthropic love or love for others, but self-love.  This self-love comes from being able to treat yourself by getting a cup of coffee made to order and customized just for you.    

This self-love gets mentioned in the movie, You've Got Mail.  In the film, the Tom Hanks character, Joe Fox, says, "The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino."  In this quote, ordering becomes more than just ordering coffee, it is an assertion of self and desire and individuality.  

However, Starbucks was merely copying this idea of self-love and individualization from Waffle House. Not only can you get eggs to order, pancakes in any number and of various topping (although once you go pecan you never go back), there is the Hash Brown Ritual. 

The hash brown ordering that takes place in Waffle House is a far better Rorschach Test than what kind of coffee you are.  You can be “smothered,” “covered,” “chunked,” “diced,” “peppered,” “capped,” “topped,” “country,” or “all the way.”  There is a much more open sense of eroticism and passion than to get a “tall skinny vanilla latte with no whip.”  The hash brown menu is a catalogue of the so wrong and so right.  One night over a dinner party, play the getting to know you game of what kind of Waffle House hash brown combination are you.  I like to be “peppered” and "covered."  What about you? 
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