Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Top Ten Greatest Convenience Foods of the Modern Age

First of all, sorry things have been so slow around here, but finals week and the subsequent grade-a-thon chewed us up and spit us out, and now we're back. Although we focus on food and fashion, I like to think what sets this blog apart (aside from being at the mercy of the academic calendar) is a willingness to engage wholeheartedly with the lowbrow. Thus, this post is dedicated to that great staple of the school year's end, convenience food.*

Don't get me wrong: there are many, many delicious, cheap, and easy** meals out there, but I've tried to narrow it down to the most comforting, tried-and-true favorites. I suspect Laine and I might disagree on several of these. But as far as I'm concerned, these are the Top Ten Greatest Convenience Foods of the Modern Age.***

10) Michelina's Fettucine Alfredo

Okay, so it's not the best fettucine alfredo. But let's say you're in a hurry and you just want to eat something that is the perfect mix of comforting and maudlin--this is the appropriate dish. Make sure you put it in the microwave for a bit longer that the recommended cook time; this will ensure that the noodles are soft and that the edges are just golden brown and crunchy enough to be totally satisfying.

9) Smucker's Uncrustables (Grape)

You might be thinking "It's sort of pathetic to purchase frozen PBJ. How fucking lazy are you?!" The answer is totally lazy. And I'll have you know that it's deliciously pathetic. The beauty of these things is that you literally do nothing. You take them out of the freezer, put them into your bag, and by lunch time, they are room temperature. No sogginess, no gooey Ziploc bags--only tender, crustless magic that you can devour in four bites before the heinous student you have to meet with rushes into your office.

8) El Monterey Taquitos (Chicken & Cheese, Flour Tortillas)

I can't remember who the patron saint of drunk college girls is (St. Catherine of Alexandria? St. Jude?), but if ever there were a good offering, this is it. Apparently these taquitos have an Award Winning Taste! I believe it. A friend insisted that we get these one Saturday, and I acquiesced. Ever since, I occasionally crave these, and on those occasions, NOTHING ELSE WILL DO.

7) Maruchan Instant Lunch (Lime Chili Flavor with Shrimp)

So, it's cold outside, you have a stuffy nose, and you have seven pages to write before tomorrow? This little Styrofoam cup (with the addition of hot curry or cayenne pepper) will give you the strength to power through. It has the added bonus of costing less than thirty minutes of campus parking.

6) Red Baron Deep Dish Singles (4 Cheese)

These are awesome. They taste like what those personal pan pizzas from your high school cafeteria would taste like if your school was trying to piss off Jamie Oliver for being such a condescending little bitch by making the pizzas even more delicious.**** Put the little cooking tray on a plate, or your microwave will be covered in melted cheese. Delicious, delicious melted cheese.

5) Kashi Frozen Entrees Lemongrass Coconut Chicken

For the singular hippie type. Surprisingly convincing as an adequate, tasty meal, as long as you put it on a plate.

4) Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup

Perhaps the most famous convenience food of all, and for good reason. Tomato soup and grilled cheese will never not make you feel better. Too lazy even to make grilled cheese? Throw a handful of Cheez-Its in your soup. Seriously, it's upsettingly amazing.

3) Morningstar Farms Chik Patties Original

Despite the truly horrible name, the conceptual offensiveness of imitation meat, and the alarmist horror of those who haven't Wikipedia'd hexane, these sandwich patties are truly delectable. Literally everyone I know, vegetarian or not, is totally thrilled whenever these appear at a cookout. They, too, have an Award Winning Taste.

2) Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese

I don't know why they even bother advertising. Everyone knows this shit is good.

1) Eggo Waffles (Homestyle)

As Tina would say, these are simply the best. When I was a little kid, my favorite part of the day was waking up at 5:30 AM, eating Eggo waffles, and watching Jem reruns with my dad. I even sent away for an Eggosaurus watch. When I was in junior high, we had to do this project for math class that involved gridding off the box from some kind of food product and making a larger scale model. That's right: I drew and colored an ENTIRE Eggo box, and I enjoyed every second of it. When I had to take the Little Rock city bus to work the summer after high school, I ran out the door every single day with two Eggo waffles slathered with Nutella and peanut butter and stuck together like a sandwich. Whenever I go home, I eat these for breakfast with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries on top. I guess what I'm trying to say, Eggo, is thanks for all the memories.

And for those of you who doubt the cultural importance of convenience foods, watch this:

I'm well aware that people all over the internet have rants about nutrition, environmental degradation, classiness, and the emotional importance of sharing good food with people you love. While these rants are often justifiable, I am going to admit that I simply cannot muster the energy to care at this time of year. For those that want to judge or tell me that these foods can't compare to their homemade versions (duh), I encourage you to take three classes, teach three, attempt to have a social life, nurse a questionably healthy addiction to putting one's hair in complicated updos, and THEN make me a damned paella. There's a good chance that there are humans who do this, but I'm willing to admit my inferiority to them and/or their robot taskmasters.

**I bet you thought I was going to say "your mom." But I won't, because it's Mothers' Day. Hi, Mom! <3

***It occurs to me that "convenience foods" is a pretty general category. For the purposes of this list, I've tried to make things comparable by limiting myself to things that are acceptable as a meal. Also, I'm not advocating that you try to subsist on these things; I'm just saying that if you are a consenting adult, you should be allowed to choose what you put in your body, including some bullshit from the microwave on occasion.

****I'm all for healthier foods in school cafeterias, and I'll leave blogging on food politics to Laine, who's better informed than I am. However, I'm convinced that it's possible to encourage positive change without resorting to namecalling and shaming tactics.


  1. Name-calling and shaming faces (along with scathing looks, venomous retorts, abject humiliation and intellectual superiority) are sensational motivators! ;)

    I have GOT to teach you how to do easy food so you do not have to resort to boxes. Then again, considering you weigh like two pounds, I guess you can eat anything you choose off of that list and it doesn't matter. Alfredo from a box (can, jar or otherwise) is sacrilege to an Italian, though. I'll have to make it for you all sometime- the real way.

  2. Ohhh, Andrew, my laziness knows no bounds. I knew this would snarf your aesthetic sensibilities, though, since everything you cook is magical. When are you going to do a guest post, anyway?