“The question at hand is…how do I get this…into my facehole without having to walk?”
~Americans at work
American society is often influenced by its fringes, and the fringe can decide seemingly at random what “old school” concept they want to reinvigorate and make fashionable. In the past years, aspects of societies have flocked to make things like vinyl, cassettes, and artisanal soda fountains popular again. By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, we’re talking about Hipsters.
Surprisingly enough, the latest Hipster endorsed cultural subset also happens to be incredibly American, while making lunch easier for working Americans in a difficult economy. It’s where white people can go outside to decide if they want to listen to the eager shouts for business of a Latino man or a troop of Vietnamese sandwich slingers. It’s where your coworkers will flock to be on the right corner so they can spend nine dollars to get Mac & Cheese with truffle oil. It’s the American ideal that allows drunk college students to get “fat sandwiches” at three in the morning.
We are of course talking about the timeless, and currently trendy, notion of Food Trucks.
Food Trucks have been around longer than you’d imagine, and while the concept of ordering food from some sort of mobile source has been common in most major cities for decades, only lately have they taken the turn to the pretentious gourmet that Food Network addicts Foodies can gush about in between bouts of apologizing for the Barefoot Contessa’s nasty habit of refusing to spend time with terminally ill children. But, believe it or not, Food Trucks have been a part of America long before the words crème fraise entered our collective vocabulary. And we’re not talking about the hot dog stands of New York or the Churros stands of Chicago, or even the eager landscapers looking for work of Los Angeles. Food Trucks predate all of these things.
After the Civil War, there was a massive westward expansion that lead to a spike in steak demand, because this is America and every time an American dies with less than twenty pounds of undigested red meat lodged in their colon, their widow is forced to do a degrading sexual dance in front of a dozen cattle farmers. Don’t blame us, that’s the law, the American beef lobby is not a group you’d want to fuck with.
As the demand for cattle skyrocketed, cowboys were required to herd cattle for months on end in areas devoid of a railroad system. This lead to the creation of the first Food Truck, called a Chuckwagon, being created by Charles Goodnight, the so-called “Father of the Texas Panhandle.” Filled with food and cooking supplies to last on a lengthy journey, they have little to do with Food Trucks that we see today, but they managed to plant the seeds of mobile food into the minds of Americans everywhere.
Chuckwagons may or may not have invented the concept of college students dropping an egg into their Ramen noodles.
The progression of Food Truck did not particularly foretell the gourmet revolution, where finding a Food Truck that does not use truffle oil is a rare and distressing occurrence. Originally, Food Trucks were a way to highlight the finest in America dietary habits. From mobile Taco stands at construction sites to hot dog carts in New York, Food Trucks were pure, unadulterated mainlined transfats, getting Americans fat for cheap. This was only reinforced in the 1980’s New Jersey establishments known as “Grease Trucks.”
Grease Trucks are only native to Rutgers, which, come on every other college in America, get on that shit. They’re known for serving “Fat Sandwiches” which makes our staff so happy a few of us are crying high fructose corn syrup tears of joy. “Wait, AFFotD, what the hell is a Fat Sandwich? That sounds so gloriously American that if ever was put within 20 feet of another nations flag that country would instantly become a Commonwealth of America. But what is in it?”
Good observation and query, hypothetical reader. Basically a Fat Sandwich is “whatever your drunk ass wants,” which means it combines ingredients such as hamburger, cheese, chicken fingers, gyros, bacon, mozzarella sticks, French fries, and again, whatever your gloriously drunk American fat ass wants. It looks like this.
Marlon Brando’s ghost just had a heart attack.
In 2004, Maxim magazine named the “Fat Darrell,” served by these Grease Trucks, as the best sandwich in America. It is a sandwich crammed full of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, French fries, and marinara sauce. Why? Because fuck you, if you want logic in your sandwich, stop drinking so much. The sandwich has 1,718 calories and 78 grams of fat, which means that the Fat Darrell is more substantive than the nation of Ghana.
“Hey, fuck you, buddy, we’re just watching our figure.”
At this point, Food Trucks had two ways to turn. They could further embrace the “wicked witch fattening up the children for her stew” approach, or they could try to give American consumers a cheap (comparatively) way to eat fancy foods. Well, one recession later, guess which way we’ve gone?
Food Trucks have invaded every square of the American workplace, promising meatball subs with all the Panini Mushrooms and White Truffle Oil that you never even knew you wanted on your meat in the first place until this very moment. It’s for the people who are willing to spend 10 dollars to get food wrapped in foil just so long as it’s made by the same chef who people pay 40 bucks to put something on one of those minimalist white plates. But fads are American, and fads that get you fat are incredibly American, so here’s the low down on the new wave of Food Trucks.
The propagation of gourmet Food Trucks went in the typical fashion. First, Los Angeles got in the game with Kogi, a fusion of Mexican tacos and burritos with Korean fillings. This only makes sense, as Los Angeles is the largest city in America with a Spanish name, and it also is the only Korean city we can name other than Seoul. From there, Food Trucks took a quick stop building popularity in Southern urban areas such as Miami or Austin, where it became a “thing” when a certain borough in New York took a shining to it and started using them for Hipster weddings (cough Brooklyn cough).
Finally, Chicago got in on the action, because they don’t call it the second city for its how quickly they embrace national crazes.
Granted, Chicago did give New York a run for its money as far as gang violence goes.
While Food Trucks now have been retrofitted to give tastes of high society to the bustling work-lunch crowd, they also keep things nice and American by offering all the classic American unhealthy foods we’ve come to love and rely on, lest we fall into an irreversible coma due to all the saturated fat withdrawal. The true American leaves open the possibility for enjoying ridiculously “chic” food products. If a gourmet restaurant is “healthy” or “vegan” we’re going to burn that fucker to the ground, but if their definition of “gourmet” is “caramelized pork bellies” we can fully support that.
Thankfully, 90% of all “specialty” Food Trucks fall into the latter category. Which is why they’re American. While we’d take a Fat Sandwich over, say, anything with aioli, we have to give credit where credit’s due. While it’s harder to find the Food Trucks with fatty items that cost less than three dollars, here’s just a quick sampling of Food Trucks across the nation that are both fancy and fatty.
The Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Angeles, CA
The fact that there’s a Truck that sells Grilled Cheeses made out of brie absolutely crumples our brainholes. The fact that there’s a Truck that sells Grilled cheeses that are filled with Mac & Cheese, Spare Ribs, and caramelized onions almost is enough for us to start feeling bad about making all those Tofu jokes about Southern California.
Maximus Minimus, Seattle, WA
America hates pigs, but loves pork. Don’t let Babe’s Oscar Nominations fool you, nothing pleases us more than just killing the shit out of some pigs. They’re delicious, but we are ever inventive in finding new ways to eat them. Feel like you’re wasting valuable pig face? Boom, eat some headcheese. Seattle seems to know what’s up as far as that department goes, which is why we get Maximus Minimus, where you can get pulled pork sandwiches that are covered in a sauce made out of beer. You feel that? Just thinking about that made barbeque sauce dribble down onto your shirt and you don’t know where the hell it came from.
GO Burger, New York, NY
We’ll probably do an AFFotD on this someday, but here’s what Kobe beef is. It’s Japanese but don’t let that fool you. It’s the most expensive beef in the world, the cows are hand massaged, fed beer and sake, and they have the most marbled meat available. Why do we bring this up? Because GO Burger decided to take that beef, grind the shit out of it, and stick it in a hot dog, which they only sell for six dollars. Goddamn it, America, you’ve done it again.
Boss Hogs Kitchen, Austin, TX
This Food Truck has something called “Captain Crunch Fried Pickles.” We didn’t even read anything else about this place, we simply bought a ticket and started screaming the second we heard that.
Flirty Cupcakes, Chicago, IL
If Food Trucks is the Foodie way to make people fat, cupcakes were the foodie way to make people fat through desserts long before Food Trucks shot up in popularity. So having a Food Truck of Cupcakes is a marriage that makes sense, like most European royalty marriages in the 17th century. With Cupcake flavors like “Curious George” (banana chocolate with butterscotch) and “Devil in Disguise” (Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting) we’re forced to wonder how they bribed our official AFFotD food namer away from us. The bastards.
As you can see, American Food Trucks might seem like a plague taking away all your street parking from the hours of eleven to three, it’s really just a way to combine fancy food and fast food in a way that can help us reach our goal American weight of “making your scale whimper whenever you approach it.” No matter where you go, it’s there, following you. Hunting you. Telling you that dieting is for sissies.
Which it totally is. Keep up the good work, you crazy mobile chefs.