Category Archives: adventures in capitalism

three things about parmesan cheese

1. On March 10, when 176 Whole Foods Markets across the U.S. cracked open 300 fresh wheels of parmesan cheese simultaneously to break their own Guinness World Record, I discovered that this Italian pasta-topper is a big fucking deal, enough to necessitate pomp, circumstance, and official cheese-watching crowns. Male and female cashiers alike wore fake mustaches, for some reason, and a woman wearing a royal purple velvet cape passed out samples.

2. Cracking open a wheel of parmesan cheese is centuries-old art that requires legitimate skill. Many folks can bust open one of these 90-pound cheese wheels in less than a minute, and on this March afternoon, the fine gentleman splitting the wheel at Whole Foods on Metcalf in Overland Park, Kansas, took about that long, narrowly missing his own record. Check out this video of crackin’ in action, as well as photos from the event at Whole Foods.

3. I got my own official cheese-watcher crown. I am ridiculously proud of this fact.

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three creepy things about abandoned shopping malls

1. The food court.

2. The two-story fountain that’s still running, for some reason.

3. The “stage.”

Photos taken at Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kansas, which opened in 1967.

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the chocolate wonderfall: a delicious mistake

I quit drinking two weeks ago. Since I’m no longer consuming 1,000 calories in one sitting by slugging down an entire bottle of wine by myself, I feel like I deserve a treat once in awhile. Like five cookies, for example, or half a bottle of caramel sauce. Or even better: A trip to Golden Corral to sample the Chocolate Wonderfall.

Billed as “the eighth wonder of the world,” the Wonderfall is what it sounds like: a giant chocolate fountain mass-produced for distribution in corporate chain restaurants nationwide. Check out the video to get a better idea. (Seriously, watch the video. It’s somewhere between porn and… well, okay, it’s pretty much like porn, except with junk food.)

I arrived at Golden Corral with two friends — one of whom is from New Zealand and was visiting his first American buffet — on a Thursday evening around 8:30. The restaurant closes at 9, meaning we had exactly 30 minutes to eat as much as possible as quickly as possible, or in buffet-speak, to “get our money’s worth.”

Despite being from the Midwest, a region that notoriously loves buffets, this was my first time in a Golden Corral as well, and it was exactly what I expected: Pretty much everyone was at least 20 pounds overweight; there were screaming children, so many screaming children; and at least four horseshoe-shaped buffets were filled with every kind of carb, meat, and starch you could possibly want to shovel into your gaping face hole.

I quickly downed one plateful of random crap — Spanish rice, scalloped potatoes, fried okra, mashed potatoes, and intestine-clogging cheese sauce atop a bed of spinach, which means it was a salad, right? Then I moved onto the main event.

The Wonderfall was hidden behind a sneeze guard-esque pane of glass, and someone who had apparently been charged with guarding it stood nearby to keep people from flicking pubes into it or dipping marshmallows that had journeyed between their ass cheeks, as one young chap claimed to have done in the YouTube comments.

For my first round, I dipped one of everything: a Rice Krispie treat, a macaroon, a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie, a marshmallow, a chunk of pineapple, a jalapeno pepper. And as I shoved the skewered marshmallow in my mouth, I realized this Wonderfall shit was no joke. In fact, I don’t care what anyone says. It was amazing.

Overwhelmed by the “everything-ness” of the buffet, the New Zealander showed absolutely no restraint. He loaded up a plate with chocolate-dipped Jell-o cubes (these were difficult to skewer, and he dropped a couple on the floor and one in the Wonderfall before successfully coating one in chocolate), a cupcake, and gummy bears. His assessment of the chocolate-covered chocolate fudge was summed up in two words: “Too much.”

The dessert plate of a New Zealander experiencing his first American buffet.

At one point we asked our server what was the weirdest thing she’s seen someone dip in the Wonderfall.

“Oh, I’ve seen it all,” she said, chipper, not letting her weariness show. “I saw a kid dip his entire arm.”

At that, I went back up for round two, but instead of dipping my arm I skewered a rainbow assortment of gummy bears. And that was what put me over the line. As I tugged the last chocolate-covered bear from the skewer with my molars, I was overcome by a feeling like television static being pumped through my veins. I overdid it. I’ve never felt more like an American.

And my friends overdid it as well. On the ride home, we were silent, perhaps in awe of how something so amazing could quickly become so horrible, or perhaps trying to stifle the bodily functions that can accompany extreme, disgusting binge eating.

In any case, bingeing on the damn Wonderfall was still preferable to bingeing on booze, because the next morning’s hangover came only in the form of an extreme desire to evacuate the contents of my body by drinking some 48-hour Hollywood “Orange Death” Miracle Diet and then going straight to the gym for three hours.

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