Pop culture can inspire some strange culinary creations; a creep-tastic example is Alamo Drafthouse's new duo of wines based on Silence of the Lambs: "The Cannibal Chianti," a nod to Hannibal Lecter, connoisseur of two-legged protein, and "Suit Yourself Pinot Grigio," an homage to Buffalo Bill, our favorite lotion enthusiast. Only the strangest-of-the-strange consumers would associate nose, body, bass notes and finish with Hannibal Lecter (okay, maybe the last one), but some film and TV-inspired edible and drinkable products over the years have been even odder.
Here are five weird pop-culture inspired culinary items: If one popular movie can produce wines and re-brand fava beans, then there is truly no limit to what creative marketing can accomplish.
5. The Wonka Bar Remember Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? The original movie with Gene Wilder, not the Johnny Depp-starring, Tim Burton hatchet job? Funny story: The Quaker Oats Company financed the original film and produced a chocolate Wonka Bar to promote the movie, but these candy bars were apparently recalled for tasting horrible. Then Nestlé jumped in and started making a branded line of candies and candy bars under the Willy Wonka Candy Company name, and produced these film-inspired treats until 2010, when low sales sent them away. Wonka bars had an amazing run for a fictional candy produced by a semi-fictional company based on a fictional book, but the really amazing part of the Wonka bar saga is that the candy just wasn't that great. It tasted like a plain, boring old Nestlé bar. Still, people bought them for decades even though, like the first movie, Hershey Bars are clearly better.
4. Tru Blood soda I was so freaking excited to run across a four-pack of Tru Blood drinks that I bought them without reading the box, got them home, opened a bottle and drank up...orange soda. Of course, I didn't think there would be real blood in the bottles, O positive or otherwise, but the blood orange-flavored, lightly carbonated beverage was a neck-biting letdown. Hell, even that fake blood energy drink that Hot Topic sells at Halloween was cooler than this. I felt strange blowing $10 on orange soda that didn't come from Whole Foods, but even stranger is the fact that the stuff is still popular to the point that it's currently sold out, with people are putting it up on Amazon and eBay for ludicrous prices. Given the cost of blood oranges at the supermarket, buying bottles of actual blood might be less expensive.
3. Ghostbusters cereal Being a kid in the '80s was big-big fun, and horribly sugary junk cereals definitely had their heyday during that decade. One of the weirdest (and notably most unhealthy) cereals to hit store shelves and then my breakfast table was Ghostbusters cereal. This stuff was an obvious tie-in with the movie, a stroke of pure, unadulterated marketing genius on the part of cereal-producing Ralston; calling it sugary does not even begin to do it proper justice. The cereal was basically sugar-crusted Froot Loops that were almost completely overshadowed by crispy white marshmallow ghosts. And if memory serves, there was a Slimer cereal that was much the same, except with colored ghost-mallows. It's a miracle any of us made it to the '90s with tooth enamel.
2. Iron Throne Blonde Ale Game of Thrones is the most popular show on television right now -- it just had the season finale and will be back next season -- so I knew someone would be marketing products based on the HBO show based on George R.R. Martin's book series A Song of Ice and Fire. In fact, Cooperstown, New York's Brewery Ommegang collaborated with HBO to create Iron Throne Blonde Ale, a 6.5% ABV Belgian-style blonde ale with a nice lemony aroma, a touch of sweetness and a good crisp finish, perfect for sipping while watching reruns, or getting shitfaced and proclaiming your alliance to House Targaryen. While it's nice to have a decent, official GOT beer, it would have been more fitting to produce a few wines, a fiercely strong cider or a drop-it-down-awesome honey mead first for the cosplaying, medieval-minded, read-the-damn-books militant fans who drink up this stuff.
1. Bertie Bott's Beans I have never read a Harry Potter book and saw just 22 minutes of the first movie, which bored me to the point that I actually turned off the television set. So when I ran across my first box of Bertie Bott's Beans in a candy store, I didn't understand that these freako-flavored Jelly Belly bastards were somehow inspired by the Harry Potter books, and just bought some because the candy clerk told me there were grass-flavored ones in the box. It wasn't exactly the grass I'd anticipated, and I definitely wasn't expecting the flavors to include sardine, black pepper, grass, horseradish, vomit, booger, earwax, dirt, earthworm, spaghetti, spinach, soap, sausage, pickle, bacon and rotten egg.
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The horseradish, spinach and pickle ones were quite good, but I about lost my lunch from two days prior when I got to the earthworm one. I have no clue what in these books/movies inspired someone to create candy that tastes exactly like a mud-caked bit of fish-bait, but I would rather watch every single one of the Harry Potter films, in a row, without stopping to pee, than eat another worm bean. Some things are just too weird to try a second time.