Foods That Jumped the Shark – Ep. 73

Foods That Jumped the Shark – Ep. 73

The fun of a “Jump the Shark” exercise is not in declaring that something jumped, but in asking whether or not it’s, and if so, when. At what moment or event?.  “Jumping the Shark” is pop culture shorthand for something that’s gone bad, turned sour, or lost its excellence.*

Has Bacon jumped the shark? Perhaps not. It’s just overexposed.

Have Food Trucks jumped the shark?  They are trendy and popular and used to be cool and unique.  But now they are everywhere.  Does the average food truck offer anything special, new, unique or bohemian anymore?  Why are there “food truck events” that people drive to, park, then get out to eat from a food truck.  Weren’t the original food trucks just dudes who were trying to feed people at construction sites.

Has “Brunch” jumped the shark? Brunch used to be exotic and hip. Sort of clever and a fun way to eat from time to time. But now “brunch” is just synonymous with any meal you’ll be eating out on Sunday other than dinner even past noon. 4PM brunch? Cmon.

Has The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest jumped the shark? It stared in the 1910’s in Coney Island. It’s now a professional exhibit with sponsors and runs as a sanctioned event by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE).  Has this official endorsed commercialization, with its complicated rulebook, eroded the charm of this event?  Year after year, you see the same competitors dominating the contest.

Has Oreo jumped the shark with its many variants? Oreos are a treat. A little expensive. Originals (and original golden) are delicious. But generic doppelgangers way cheaper. So these unique flavors were enticing. But 25 new flavors in just three years?  Too much too fast? It’s a who’s who of trendy flavors. Oreo is a classic.  Some dalliance is fun. This much experimentation is, perhaps, a bastardization of the brand – not to mention flavor exhaustion.

  • 2012: Birthday Cake, Creamsicle, Fudge Creme, Ice Cream, Rainbow ShureBert, Chocolate Mint, Gingerbread, Candy Corn, Candy Cane, American Crème, Cookies n’ Crème, Lemon Twist
  • 2013: Banana Split, Strawberries n’ Crème, Watermelon
  • 2014: Cookie Dough, Marshmallow Crispy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Pumpkin Spice, Fruit Punch, Root Beer Float, Limeade, Carmel Apple
  • 2015: S’mores, Red Velvet

Has Fast Food jumped the shark? It’s not fast enough anymore. Three minutes? But I want it now!  Sure it was never healthy or high quality.  But at least it was fast.  With extended menus, specialty items, and a seeming public desire for “fresh” food the jump has begun.  In the days of yore, your sandwich would be lined up, color coded, and ready to eat when you walked in.  We miss the heat lamped food, where you could see the rainbow of pre-prepared, pre-packaged food. Ready on demand.

Did KFC’s Colonel Sanders jump the shark (and then jump back)? The Colonel is Dead! Long Live the Colonel!  He was on the bucket and sign. And we remember some faux “footage” of an old colonel talking about chicken. Then in the 90s, a cartoon Colonel began rapping and hip hop dancing.  We remember seeing that and declaring the colonel pathetic, desperate, and lame.  Not enough irony in what they were doing there.  Fast forward to 2015 – Darrell Hammond as the Colonel, we hated it. Again, seemingly no irony in his colonel. Then Norm McDonald as KFC’s Colonel. Dripping with irony. Then Jim Gaffigan.  With Norm and Gaffigan, the Colonel won our hearts back. The rare double reverse shark jump.

Has ballpark food jumped the shark?  Ballpark food used to be popcorn, peanuts, hotdogs and crackerjacks.  Nachos were the exotic choice.  Nowadays – sushi and extreme foods like the Minnesota Twins’ “Punisher,”  a mega extreme sandwich that is intentionally over the top. Are we there to watch the game or check out the food?  Well, we’re there for the food.  And that’s why real sports fans would hate us in their ballpark.

Has the word “Extreme” jumped the shark? This word likely jumped in the late 90s. and its all Mountain Dew’s fault with help from Doritos. The word was, and is lame and ridiculous.  “Extreme,” wasn’t just a word, but an “attitude” and felt cool in 5th grade? The word “extreme” got caught up in a lingustic arms race.  We may would argue its jumped back as a sort of part of an evolution the lexicon –diluted, like how the word “literally” now actually has a second meaning with the same definition of its opposite – “figuratively.” We reviewed some Extreme Chex mix on the site. But “extreme” is self-aware, nostalgic, and almost expected marketing speak nowadays. Chex mix cannot actually be extreme. But it’s fun to pretend that it is. Lookout for the new “Extreme synonym, “jacked.” (Cracker Jacks Jack’d?)

Has “Food Porn” jumped the shark? It was funny a few times.  But now it’s every picture of food on the internet.  Do we want food and porn conflated? People who use the phrase think they are clever and naughty. They aren’t. They are perhaps jumping over a shark.                               

Did The Trix Rabbit jump the shark? – The Trix Rabbit is a classic cereal mascot who tries to get Trix cereal from the kids, disguised as a garbage man or a tattoo artist or whatever.  But his ears fall out from his hat and the kids say, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.” Poor rabbit never gets his Trix.  That’s the gimmick.   But did you know that the Rabbit has gotten the Trix?  If the rabbit gets the Trix, isn’t the premise ruined?  That Rabbit is a shark jumper!

Have food documentaries jumped the shark? – We like documentaries. But we understand that a lot of them have to be taken with a grain of salt.  It started with Supersize me. But now- Food Inc., Cowspiracy, Sugar, Vegacation – Netflix has a ton of these food documentaries. Literally over a dozen.

Has the Hungry Dads Podcast jumped the shark with this episode? Yes.

* This is not a list of things that we think HAVE definitely jumped the shark – it’s a discussion of WHETHER something has jumped the shark and if so why or why not.   We have weird amount of fussiness when people bastardize the phrase “Jump the Shark.”  The Hungry Dads try to stay pretty true to the phrase’s intentions (Hugh has met the phrase’s inventor and author of the book “Fast Food Nation,” John Hein.)

The first question is often whether or not something has jumped the shark, and it’s not always crystal clear. That’s okay. The value is pondering the pros and cons of either position.

The other delineating factor of a jump-the-shark analysis is trying to identify the thing or moment when that good thing got less good – or got bad, or became less than it once was.  For instance, its not enough to say that Happy Days wasn’t as good as it used to be.  Or to say that things went downhill in Season 4. A good jump-the-shark analysis tries to identify the tipping point, or epitome, or last-straw – the moment when Fonzie waterskied over that shark.  The show was headed in a weird direction perhaps already. And then it did that and there was no turning back (although things can jump back over the shark too).

Other Jump the Shark possibilities not covered in this episode:

Have Twinkies jumped the shark?  Hostess went out of business.  Perhaps that would never have happened if they never retired the awesome mascot, Twinkie the Kid. Sales would have never gone down. The Kid is overdue for a renaissance.

Did Handles/Carl Junior jump the shark? – Ultrathickburger? When they merged? Exciting at first, but then lost that local identity that we loved about Hardees.  Paris Hilton commercial?

Have food brand voting contests jumped the shark? Our favorite will always be Lays’ “Do Us a Flavor.” But there are a bunch of them (M&Ms to name another.)  This trend came close to jumping with the Quaker Oats, “Create your bowl” event.  But then, we didn’t see much else.  It’s like the marketers saw the oversaturation coming and held off? Or, they are holding off until the 2016 election season gets into full full swing? Maybe the negativity of this presidential race seems like a bad fit for synergy?

Did salted caramel jump the shark? When the convenience store 7-11 got into the game with a salted caramel snack (reviewed here), not appreciating the nuance of flavor, this trendy taste combo may have jumped.

Has Cheese jumped the shark? Or is it just part of a political conspiracy? Google it. The US government’s cheese payoffs are real man. Reaaaall!!!