The holidays tend to bring out the very best -- and sometimes the dead worst -- in culinary acumen. In this age of gourmet foods and luxury drinks, it almost surpassed belief that there are still stale, tasteless and terrible tidbits adorning X-mas tables and sideboards in the misguided name of tradition. Almost, but not quite, because we know folks who continue to give out leaden fruitcakes and those repugnant chocolate oranges. And awful as those are, they don't even rate our list of the five worst X-mas foods.
5. Date nut balls
At every office cookie exchange, there is always the one cube-nerd who brings these derpy little goo-balls and walks away with the good cookies that other people put thought and effort into making. Whoever (living or dead) decided that the unwinning combo of chopped date poo, pulverized graham crackers, desiccated coconut shreds, more goopy honey and a few fistfuls of bittery, chewy walnut-leavings is the official Scrooge McF*ck of all time.
The only cookie balls I wanna see during the holidays have rum in them -- and lots of it.
4. Popcorn tins
There are gourmet popcorn tins out there, filled with fresh, crisp popcorn blends like Cheddar and bacon, butter toffee with pecans, and sour cream and onion. But thanks to big-box chain stores and public school guilt-tripping fundraising efforts around the holidays, we all inevitably end up with at least one of those janky, dented cans with the picture of a puppy sporting a Santa hat, with the greasy, ineffective cardboard partitions, usually half-filled with stale margarine-corn (the yellow stuff no one eats), chalky cheese-powder-corn and what passes for caramel corn -- but tastes like parched pancake syrup.
I'm almost certain that these terrible popcorn tins are responsible for post-December dental emergencies, diverticulitis and skyrocketing suicide rates.
3. Butter cookie tins
And if the horrible popcorn tins weren't enough X-mas suffering, for every one popcorn tin there are also two blue tins of stale, imported butter cookies, ostensibly imported from Denmark, but probably manufactured somewhere in New Jersey. Everyone's elderly relatives seem to have these dented tins on their shelves, filled with sewing notions or scratched-off lottery tickets, but where the cookies went is always a big mystery, since no one is ever actually seen eating them.
And nobody should eat those cookies, because the huge, implacable sugar nuggets clinging to the tops will take out bridgework faster than a ball bat to the grill.
2. Candy canes
Candy canes used to be both cheap and delicious, but these days there's an ever-increasing variety of this candy out there -- all bad. This trend of nasty canes started when the non-peppermint version hit the market, filling hapless stockings and X-mas trees with cloying, artificial blueberry, orange cream, cherry and watermelon-flavored candy canes. At least fake peppermint tastes pretty good. And the hand-made, naturally-flavored canes are prohibitively expensive.
When you are paying $6 for one gourmet candy cane or $1 for a couple dozen regular ones, we will never make any progress as a civilization.
The origins of this ubiquitous, drinkable liquor-pudding holiday beverage are disputed: Some say it came from merry old England, and some say Colonial America made eggnog the drink of choice. But the end result remains the same: It's still a thick, dairy-heavy glug with too much egg, too much cream, way too much nutmeg, and too much bourbon. Okay, maybe not too much bourbon, but eggnog makes for a lousy alcohol-delivery conduit because your stomach is uncomfortably full long before you are drunk, and half of the buzz is probably from the sugar content.
Kill the nog and just spend X-mas swilling bourbon with ice like respectable holiday drinkers.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.