Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

May 8, 2009

Dijon? Please. The Great Junk Food Challenge

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:06 pm

As a conflicted–populist inclined, yet over educated liberal–I’m fascinated by the similar if mirror image conflict I see in conservatives on the deeply important Dijon mustard issue. I’m puzzled by the faux-populist pose of conservatives getting their knickers in a twist of Obama Derangement Syndrome because he mentioned “Dijon mustard.” One of things I respected about conservatives was that they believed that value, taste was not relative and that there were distinctions to be made, hierarchies of taste worth preserving.

All of this seemed to be thrown away in the over hasty embrace of the supposed instinctive wisdom of a certain plumber. This is the kind of thing liberals used to–still–do: endow purportedly ignored and oppressed minorities (here blue collar Americans) with magical powers of instinctual wisdom.

But I’m beginning to believe–and the Dijon “scandal” seems to prove–that that sad spectacle has not resulted in a backlash against ignorance as a prima facie qualification for wisdom.

All of which leads me to a discussion of the relative merits of various junk foods and my discovery, yesterday at Dunkin Donuts, of what may be the single worst piece of junk food it’s ever been my misfortune to consume — indeed the single worst piece of junk food ever crafted. The pastry from hell. Dunkin Donuts’ so-called “Cinnamon stick”.

Basically I’m a devotee of anything cinnamony. I sometimes think the best part of air travel is the chance that at any given airport you’d run into a Cinnabon franchise.

I also think there is something magic that the the combination of cinnamon and coffee does for brain chemistry–an effect heightened into the neurochemical stratosphere by hot milk– and for years have made my healthy breakfast from a Dunkin Donuts cinnamon sugar donut and a Starbucks “misto” (both stores are fortunately–or tragically–located just across the street from me). Except from that dark period–“the lost years” I think of them–when I was able to consume a Dunkin D. pastry that now makes my stomach turn–the sickeningly over sweetened “coffee roll” complete with ledges of mucus colored melted sugar “frosting”. I understand in some stores it comes equipped with an insulin syringe.

But I must admit I couldn’t resist the “special” DD was offering the other morning, heralded by a poster that announced a “warmed up” cinnamon stick accompanied by a picture of what looked like a gaudy guided missile of sugary destruction: a hot dog shaped twist with dark cinnamon seams criss-crossed with drippings of congealed white sugar icing.

I knew it was going to be awful, but it was cinnamon, so I tried it.

First thing I noticed was the acrid smell. It couldn’t have been meant to smell bad,; it was just a by product of being gently “warmed up” in some greasy, poorly cleaned microwave oven I think, one that was used to nuke to charcoal various “bagel”-like products that DD peddles.

But, trying to ignore the burnt aroma, I dipped it in my Starbucks and well, what do you expect? Even Dijon mustard couldn’t have made it worse: the “pastry” like cardboard, the cinnamon icky-sticky, the icing made my teeth hurt in anticipation of the punishment they were in for.

It made me wonder if it was the worst piece of junk food I’ve ever eaten (and I’m not that picky: I like Mickey D’s fried apple pies at times for instance).

It made me think of asking readers what their worst junk food experience was.

(Note to Obama Derangeent Syndrome sufferers: this is not a column about Obama, although you seem to have shrunk your world to your obsession with his Satanic Evil, so that everything‘s about him. It’s almost as if you’re, in a perverse way, in love with him. Try to stay on topic or I’ll just delete).



  1. When I was six, I used to watch “Officer” Joe Bolton on TV (1959) who was sponsored by Chef Boy-ar-Dee ravioli. I was mesmerized by the dlicious images of this ravioli, a dish which I had yet to sample. On the first day of school (Grade 1), what’s for lunch but ravioli! I found the feel of it in my mouth so glutinous, so different from what I imagined on TV, that I immediately got sick and swore off ravioli until my mid-forties. My son, who just got back from St. Louis, tells me that “crisp” ravioli is a local delicacy there, quite good and perhaps close to what I had imagined 50 years ago. Welcome back, Ron (or should we call you “Nuke Laloosh”?)

    Comment by charlie finch — May 8, 2009 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  2. Dijon “scandal”

    I have barely heard it mentioned. At most, there have been a few one-liners—and then the matter is dropped. Conservatives are far more concerned how Barack Obama easily manipulates the MSM. The journalists reporting on this “event” seemed like nothing more than campaign workers. I found it interesting, however, that the president asked for Dijon mustard in a fast food restaurant. Am I missing something? Since when do they serve such a condiment? I got the distinct impression, perhaps wrongly, that this was the first time Obama entered such an establishment in many a month. He seems to be someone who normally eats only at the more expensive restaurants—except when he is seeking a photo-op.

    Comment by David Thomson — May 8, 2009 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  3. This is the first I’ve heard of “Dijongate.” When did presidents have to give up any sort of aristocratic, or even mass affluent traits? I recall reading that FDR was loved for his upper crust accoutrements. Perhaps class resentment has become so prevalent that presidents will perpetually have to hide their fondness for arugula, Zegna, Martha’s Vineyard, etc.

    Comment by Steve — May 9, 2009 @ 5:41 am | Reply

  4. Aw, c’mon, you’ve turned against the DD coffee roll? those things are great!

    As for worst junk food experience: a few years ago a friend and I went to a movie at AMC River East in Chicago and ordered popcorn. They had self-serve butter dispensers, instead of having the server butter your popcorn. It turns out that this operation is better left to the professionals. We put what *seemed* like the correct amount of butter-like substance on the popcorn, but it turned out to be much too much. My stomach still churns just thinking about it.

    Comment by *jaime — May 9, 2009 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  5. […] Read the entire piece here. […]

    Pingback by Pajamas Media » Dijon? Please. The Great Junk Food Challenge — May 10, 2009 @ 2:26 am | Reply

  6. My ‘junk’ food of choice, “Snickers” bars…sticky, nutty and full of guilt in the end.

    Comment by Delia — May 10, 2009 @ 3:36 am | Reply

  7. The “O” didn’t read his script very well on the staged lunch that just so happened to be covered by the MSM. It was just like his press releases that had marked reporters in attendance asking harmless questions. He ad-libbed the mustard and got caught. He should’ve brought along the portal monitor.

    Comment by mixplix — May 10, 2009 @ 4:09 am | Reply

  8. I just curled up and whimpered at your description of that abomination. Which could have something to do with the fact that I ate sugar, but never mind. Nothing beats a nice packets of crisps (or, as you crazy Yanks like to call them, “potato chips”. But seriously, I hear you can get censored for giving people nightmares.

    Comment by Lisette — May 10, 2009 @ 4:11 am | Reply

  9. A London friend decided to take me out to a Waffle House near the American Embassy She said she felt sorry for them because they are ‘always empty.’ I was thrilled to see real hot dogs for sale as well as waffles, with those yellow tubs of French’s mustard on the tables. (A rarity here.) I put a little mustard on my frankfurter and nearly spat it out. It was Dijon mustard! If one grew up as I did having a dog with American mustard at Levis’s and Connie Mack Stadium in Philly this was a shock to my system.

    I asked the owner, an Iranian guy, what was wrong and he angrily told us that he ‘pours out’ the French’s mustard and replaces it with ‘real French’ mustard because ‘the American rubbish is so horrible.’ No wonder his place is empty — the Yanks at the Embassy do not want a dog with Dijon!
    My two cents.

    Comment by Carol Gould — May 10, 2009 @ 4:28 am | Reply

  10. Even though I am a Right Wing Extremist and shower everyday -water wasting planet hater- I do enjoy a Starbucks with my burger and fries-fries cooked in transfat at that. But Dijon? Oh please Mr. Rosebaum,do you have any GREY POUPON?

    Comment by RobertG — May 10, 2009 @ 4:30 am | Reply

  11. Lots of good junk food at State Fairs. Pricey though. Don’t forget entrance fee and parking fee.

    Good donuts have no rival; apple fritters.

    Thick applewood bacon.

    Soft tacos: al pastor, carnitas with all the trimmings on fresh, hand made corn tortillas.

    Kettle-style potato chips; thin French fries; curly fries.

    Pupusas! Arepas!

    Comment by vivo — May 10, 2009 @ 5:18 am | Reply

  12. There are certain things which no civilized person would ever do. One is put ketchup on a hot dog and the other is put mustard on a burger, whether Dijon or French’s. Pure is pure and violations should not be tolerated.

    But, in the larger scheme, a transgression in that area is hardly in the overall noise level of the administrations destruction of our nation.

    As for junk food, the bottom line is that it is almost always good. That’s the pure joy of fried stuff. As mentioned already, State Fairs excel at deep frying anything!

    Worst junk food? Arby’s roast “beef” sandwich–mushy, soggy bun containing a glob of non-descript pink meat with neither flavor nor texture to reward the experience. No amount of Arby’s special creamy horseradish sauce can redeem it.


    Comment by Ed Rasimus — May 10, 2009 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  13. Worst junk food? Well, Dunkin Donuts bagels don’t quite make the cut. They aren’t bagels in any important sense, but there’s a limit to how bad bread can be.

    If we’re talking national chains, and not one-off local junk food disasters, I’d have to mention Arby’s curly fries, which completely miss the point of what French fries are supposed to be. Still, they aren’t actually nauseating.

    I’ll have to go with White Castle burgers. Considering their reputation, I was surprised, when I finally had some, at just how bad they are. In fact, I went back a second time just to confirm that it hadn’t been an accident. Yep, they’re really like that.

    Comment by MP — May 10, 2009 @ 6:29 am | Reply

  14. Oh, second comment. You know, this reminds of a John Kerry moment from 2004 where he was mocked for getting Swiss cheese on his Philly cheese steak in Philadelphia. Cheese Wiz is the traditional topping. You know what, the heck with authenticity. I would have asked for Swiss cheese too.

    Don’t care for Dijon mustard, but maybe some kind of hot mustard, the kind with horseradish in it. Mmmmmm, horseradish.

    Comment by MP — May 10, 2009 @ 6:37 am | Reply

  15. I believe what you are describing is more properly known as a “churro,” though I have no doubt Dunkin Donuts decided to dump the Spanish nomenclature. The churro originated in Spain, so you ought to expect that ordering knock off foreign pastries at Dunkin Donuts is a terrible idea. Personally I’ve only had the Mexican version, which I presume are closer to the original, and those are quite tasty pastries. The sugary icing ought to have been a tip-off, as I’ve never seen a churro with sugary icing. And Mexicans are quite fond of going overboard with sugar in their pastries and even they have the good sense not to dip a churro in icing Cinnabon-style.

    As for Dijon-gate, I think the issue is more the foodie faux pas nature of it. Who puts mustard, dijon or not, on hamburgers? I have frequented my share of hamburger joints in the US and I can’t ever recall seeing mustard as a condiment in places that don’t also do hot dogs. It is an act of douchebaggery to go into a hamburger joint, as American of a tradition as you can find, and then make a production of asking for dijon mustard. This would be like going into a classic French bistro and ordering steak au poivre and then asking for ketchup. Or you know, that other annoying American habit of dunking sushi in a big bowl of soy sauce and wasabi. For a man who puts on airs of being a foodie, he ought to know better. No mustard on hamburgers. But my guess is that like everything else American, he despises hamburgers and he just had to sneer at another American tradition.

    Comment by TQ — May 10, 2009 @ 6:43 am | Reply

  16. The worst junk food on Earth are the hot dogs they sell at 7-11.

    I bought three once because they were cheap. I tried to eat them because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to waste money, but I decided that I would have paid not to eat them so I gave the rest to a friend’s dog.

    He wouldn’t eat them either.

    Comment by Northern Light — May 10, 2009 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  17. I was more turned off by Obama asking for the burger “medium-well” than his mustard choice. After all, the joint WAS in D.C., home of metrosexual elitism and/or the aspiration to it by all those on-the-seniority-bus govt. drones.

    Worst fast food ever, however? I can’t describe it, only tell you the name and let you use your imagination about how un-fresh, canned-decades-ago the main ingredient was, how doughy-awful the pastry, and how reeking-of-a-4-am-slop-bucket-of-a-waterfront-dive the aroma: “Crab Cobbler.” I kid you not.

    Can I forget it forever now? Thanks.

    Comment by D.F. — May 10, 2009 @ 7:13 am | Reply

  18. Junk food, I’ve had my share. But I’ll tell you one thing. The best mustard for my money is made in Chicago. The most simple ingredients. Kuskiusko Mustard. UUUmmmm good.
    Honesty in advertising…I am in no way connected to this product. It is just my honest opinion.

    Comment by Fred Beloit — May 10, 2009 @ 7:35 am | Reply

  19. I used to love the taste of just about any item of junk food available. As I became more observant on the creation of these delights, I witnessed the hygienically challenged handling techniques that were so often used.

    Needless to say my visits are now infrequent.

    Comment by larry — May 10, 2009 @ 7:50 am | Reply

  20. How about some of Long John’s Silver’s fried fish? All oil! Same for a lot of KFC! Instant ingestion.

    Worst recent meal: only available lunch at a PA Turnpike rest stop: Burger King. Leaden. I wouldn’t call it food.

    Comment by Mozart — May 10, 2009 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  21. #7 Delia….’Snickers’, by far, the best junk food on the planet.

    Comment by steveg — May 10, 2009 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  22. Everyone has commented on the mustard incident in view of MSNBC’s editing of what occurred, so I won’t go into it. I will mention one thing: apparently they were smart enough to pick a place that would have Dijon mustard. It’s working class, but apparently it’s a “gourmet” burger place, and they have varieties of spicy burgers and toppings. They even have a “blackened” burger with cajun spices on it, from what I read.

    As for my worst indulgence: it doesn’t really qualify as junk food. I’m not that big a fan of drive-through unless it’s In-N-Out, and there stuff, on the fast food scale, is pretty healthy. I do like apple fritters, but I’ve found something worse, though I only very rarely (say once every two years or so) indulge myself. One of the local restaurants DEEP FRIES their French Toast! My wife can only eat a bite or two; after that it makes her sick. I have to have it as a combination with eggs etc.; a full order would probably kill me.

    P.S. When I just recounted this to my wife, she mentioned the Bulldog, and it’s definitely a qualifier. I’ve only eaten them once, but my they were fattening, disgusting, and tasty. This is a from a local fast food chain called Yaki’s Original Teriyaki Bowl, or something to that effect. They take a regular length hot dog, encase it in cheese of some sort, then wrap that in a won-ton wrapper, and drop the whole thing in a deep fryer. This makes a hot dog with a sort of crunchy won-ton for a bun, and they have sauce like you get with Asian food sometimes: a mustard concoction of some sort (this one is Dijon-based, Obama would be proud) along-side some sort of ketchup concoction. You’re supposed to mix the two together and dip the bulldogs into them. If you get three, along with fries and a drink, the place calls the whole thing “the Doghouse”.

    Comment by DavidN — May 10, 2009 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  23. You choice of junk food is smart. Cinnamon is the perfect spice for the Swine Flu era being, according to my girlfriend who is an ayurvedic healer as well as a Professor of western medicine (great legs too)cinnamon is a powerful antiviral.

    I just hope you don’t dunk you cinnamon sticks in dijon mustard, that would be vulgar.

    Comment by Ian Thorpe — May 10, 2009 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  24. The worst junk food in the world? Anything bought at a “fair” out of a trailer. So awful.

    Comment by AThinkingPerson — May 10, 2009 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  25. I recently went to the new Yankee Stadium. The nachos plate, at 12 dollars and 1400 calories, is so disgusting there. It looks like a plate of fat and just gazing at it makes you wretch. Alternatively, the Yankees have fresh fruit carts and the apples, two for three dollars are crisp and tangy. The whole place is designed to make you gorge on junk food and ignore the game. Hot dog vendors deliver the weiners in spiffy Nathan’s bags which resemble carryon luggage. The franks are overbroiled, which makes them scrumptious. Everybody, even 56 year old me, gets carted for beer, which is weird. The concessions include a garlic fries stand, Carl’s Philly cheesecake, Latin Corner Cuban sandwiches, Johnny Rockets burgers, Brother Jimmy’s southern bbq, a noodle bowl stand, Famiglia Pizza, and a Kid’s Cart with PB&Js. The fresh fruit stand is called Melissa’s. For the Hickeys, Harveys and Mistress Quicklys out there, there is a staggering assortment of booze havens in Yankeeland. Babe Ruth, famous for consuming a couple of dogs and half a dozen root beers while playing right field, wouldn’t last a week in the new fleshpot.

    Comment by charlie finch — May 10, 2009 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  26. My worst junk food experience. Well.. I would have to say eating knishes made by a Mohel ranks in the top two.

    Rather chewy.

    Comment by Fantom — May 10, 2009 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

  27. “My son, who just got back from St. Louis, tells me that “crisp” ravioli is a local delicacy there, quite good and perhaps close to what I had imagined 50 years ago”.

    I have the same attitude towards any pasta based food, its just not that great unless a bit crispy. Luckily i live in China, they fry anything here, and you can buy real burners, in the 15,000 – 20,000 BTU range locally. Cook pasta as normal bit 2-3 minutes undercooked. Fire up burner and finish at high heat for about 90 seconds.

    Does wonders for flavor and texture.

    Comment by Alex — May 11, 2009 @ 6:30 am | Reply

  28. I put a little mustard on my frankfurter and nearly spat it out. It was Dijon mustard! If one grew up as I did having a dog with American mustard at Levis’s and Connie Mack Stadium in Philly this was a shock to my system.

    Dijon mustard is strong. If you use the same quantity as you would use for American mustard you are going to breath fire.

    I was thrilled to see real hot dogs for sale as well as waffles, with those yellow tubs of French’s mustard on the tables.

    French mustard? In tubs? If any Frenchman learns about it the place is going to be burned to the grounds.

    Comment by JFM — May 11, 2009 @ 8:13 am | Reply

  29. Just wanted to say, Dijon mustard is made by Kraft foods. I was embarrassed that people made such a big deal about an AMERICAN product. It is not European and I always preferred it to yellow mustard… in fact my grandma does too, and she’s not elitist. 🙂

    Comment by jules — May 14, 2009 @ 6:23 am | Reply

  30. Mr Rosenbaum, I think you’ve got it all wrong. We don’t care that Mr Obama likes Dijon mustard. Hell, I despise the bright yellow stuff and prefer fancy-pants mustard myself. It’s that the network that aired the story made a big deal out of the “two regular guys out for burgers” motif, then censored Obama’s order right as he was about to say what kind of mustard he wanted. The Legal Insurrection blog thought it was kind of funny how obsessively the media censored other instances of Obama asking for Dijon mustard and basically made a joke about it. Nutroots leftists, unable to see the humor in anything having to do with The One, came unhinged:

    To the right, “Dijongate” was just a way to poke fun at the MSM. To the MSM, it became a minor obsession.

    Comment by Fearsome Comrade — May 24, 2009 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

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