As sensory experiences go—the ones we can write about in a respectable, professional publication, at least—it’s hard to top the consumption of sweets when it comes to absolute primal pleasure.
Inexpensive. Nutritious. Filling. Easy to prepare. Easily transported. Delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature. Storable for years.
For New Yorkers and nostalgists of a certain age, the term egg cream conjures a host of pleasant associations: hot summer afternoons, classic American drugstore soda fountains, and bygone youth.
If you’re reading this column at work—in an office, cubicle, or break room—take a moment to survey the coworkers in your line of sight. If your workplace is anything like mine, you’re probably going to notice a lot of moving mouths, whether or not people are talking. Most office environments are Snack Central, which makes them excellent places to observe the All-American Grazer (Ravenous Maximus) in one of his or her natural habitats.
According to Datassential’s Menu Trends report, more than 35 percent of the nation’s restaurant menus feature pizza among their offerings. At quick-service chains, the figure is slightly higher, at 38 percent. And those are just the outlets that actually use the word pizza to characterize their handiwork. If you expand the definition of pizza to include so-called flatbreads—a crafty synonym that usually connotes a smaller but more expensive pizza—the percentages nose even higher.
It’s hard for aficionados in any field to avoid the desert-island question. For music mavens, it boils down to, “Which album would you take with you, if you could only take one?” Movie lovers have to decide which film they’d want to watch, possibly in perpetuity—a question that bears careful consideration, especially if you consider the perils of spending the rest of your natural life with only Ishtar or Ernest Goes to Camp to keep you company.
It’s summer. It’s hot. And chances are good that if you’re nestled comfortably in a backyard hammock—or perched on a porch swing, sprawled out on the beach, casting a line at the ol’ fishing hole, or engaged in any number of other stereotypical warm-weather activities straight out of a Norman Rockwell illustration—you’re reaching for an ice-cold tea to wet your whistle.
If you want to get a group of barbecue fanatics all fired up, just try using the words grilling and barbecuing interchangeably.
Ask a typical male heavy fast-food user what would make his favorite pepperoni pizza even better, and it’s a reasonably good bet he’ll tell you “more”: more pepperoni, more cheese, and a bigger, thicker crust. Ask him what he’s looking for in a burger, and you’ll likely hear something similar: more toppings, bigger patty, more bacon, extra cheese, heavy condiments, and a hefty bun.
Slowly, quietly, and without a great deal of fanfare, pork has staged a kind of revolution on U.S. plates. Between 1990 and 2013, Americans’ pork consumption increased about 18 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That jump seems particularly noteworthy when compared with beef consumption, which edged up just over 5 percent during this same period.