Perhaps the most disturbing story to unfold this past weekend was somehow not President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit, but rather a cataclysmic collision of seemingly every viral internet trope: This absolutely cursed recipe video for something called, “Deep Fried BBQ Chicken Stuffed Pizzadilla.”
Here it is, in all its unholy glory:
This is fucked up! Not least because it is a genuinely disgusting recipe (more on that later) that also seems potentially dangerous to anyone with high blood pressure (or really any heart-related condition), but also because it’s so clearly a troll (that we all watched and hated anyway).
The recipe and its accompanying video appears to actually be from earlier this month, published on the very appropriately titled UK food site Twisted Food (lol). But the video, which recasts the old adage “it must been seen to be believed” as a chilling warning, seemingly first went semi-viral in an Aug. 22 tweet from someone who goes by khaltkom:
Indeed, I also want to know WHY?????
From there, the video found its way to the Twitter feed of journalist Yashar Ali, whose tweet sent the clip and its depravity into the viral stratosphere:
This led to People magazine’s food editor, Shay Spence, to try his hand at cooking the recipe himself, which he dutifully documented on Twitter and Instagram (what’s bad for your mouth could be good for your brand!), from shopping trip to gagging fit:
We’ve reached a sort of escape velocity in a few respects when it comes to the insanely popular (and I’m sure lucrative) genre of recipe videos. We have BuzzFeed’s Tasty to thank (and blame) for pioneering the instantly recognizable technique: camera overhead, disembodied hands, a succession of quick cuts set to an upbeat track that probably came pre-loaded into the editing software used to put it together. You can watch a set of hands make an entire meal in about 90 seconds—crucially, for both their commercial success and watchability, you don’t need any sound at all to understand them and they’re almost always short enough to fit in a Instagram grid post or a tweet. The beats are basically always the same: you see the finished product; you see the ingredients; you see how the ingredients should be combined, usually with accompanying text to note timing for baking, setting, etc.; you see the finished product being served. They are very satisfying to watch and you can watch them seemingly in perpetuity to achieve an unending chain of dopamine rushes (see: me and Bon Appétit’s entire YouTube channel).
These Foul Food Films—a term I literally just made up for something that probably already has a better, non-alliterative name—are like cheap horror films, subverting the journey to epicurean delight into a garish nightmare that manipulates the usual, well-known “story” beats of recipe videos, cranking up the terror with each perfectly timed plot twist. Each successive transformation of this dish, each time you think it’s surely about to end, you get a fake-out, and it somehow keeps going (“We’re putting the chicken...in the tortilla?”; “Oh we’re baking it”; “Now we’re making ranch?”; “Why are we cutting it up?”; “Why are we frying it??”; “Wait, now it’s a PIZZA????”; “Now we GRILL IT?????????????”).
This is entirely the point of them, to me—to gross you out, to tell people how grossed out you were and to have them watch it themselves to see just how gross it is. Get those views (and the pre- and mid-roll ads at the higher prices you can command for them)! It works! Here I am! I eagerly await to see how this transparent manipulation of the attention economy is mutated once more.