“Yes, this burger is pretty tasty, but what it really needs is someone to shave flakes of yellow rock on it to make it obnoxiously expensive.”
For a species that used to feed itself by throwing pointy sticks at charging animals and playing a constant game of “will this berry make me puke until I die” we sure do spend a lot of our efforts making food as fancy as possible. Normally, that’s not a bad thing, it’s led to fascinating and delicious culinary experiences for those daring individuals with a worldly palate who are willing to try anything and everything at least once. It’s what drives America to create burgers like these, and why gummy bear bratwursts are a thing that you can actually buy. However, it also can lead to pretentious food additions that only exist to as a way for people with more disposable income than shame to spend ungodly sums of money on future-poop just to show they can.
The most obnoxious development in culinary excess doesn’t involve molecular gastronomy, expensive “trendy” gimmicks, or even kale. No, the worst thing to happen to haute cuisine is gold. Tasteless flakes of gold added to your food so your small intestine can digest the daily wage of the person whose job it was to mine the precious metal that you so callously shucked into your oral cavity. While certain societies used to eat gold in the past, this was because we had reached the level of scientific enlightenment of “assuming eating gold would restore your youth” which of course is to say, we weren’t all that bright.
The most affordable and least obnoxious addition of gold to our stomachs of course comes in the form of booze (most notably, Goldschläger). Goldschläger, better known as “gold-flecked cinnamon frat juice,” and similar liquors initially put gold flakes into booze for medicinal reasons because, again, it was the 1600s, let’s give everyone a break. Now, the gold remains as a gimmick, but when the total amount of gold involved in a bottle of booze ends up being about half a dollar worth of the stuff and ends up finding its way into a shot called “Liquid Cocaine” we doubt anyone drinking Goldschläger is putting on any airs.
The same can’t be said for these following dishes, some of which cost more than your monthly rent, and all of whom are ordered by people who deserve to be immediately punched in the face by their waiter. So let’s dive in.
Five Ordinary Foods Made Needlessly Expensive With Edible Gold
Covering food with gold ranks as the most unnecessary addition to anything this side of casting James Belushi for a cameo in a movie. As far as we can tell, gold and air are the only two completely flavorless, odorless substances that chefs purposely add to food, and gold still manages to be even more pointless because air actually can be used to help create delicious things (what’s up, whipped cream). Now, if you look at the eggroll above, some of you might remember it as the Emperor’s Eggroll from our article on the spiciest meals in America. This is a dish that was created to torture people in a way that only 7.1 million Scoville units can. Now, for reasons unbeknownst to us, that dish also included edible gold. We can think of two possible reasons why they added gold- either they felt that adding gold would be the only way a dish that’s so spicy that no one has ever managed to eat more than three bites of it could be even more wasteful, or they are trying to condition America into associating gold-covered foods with meals that will actively hurt them. “You want gold on your food? Well this is what happens. Pain.” We’re going to assume it’s the latter, because we desperately want it to be true.
Unfortunately, these following dishes don’t cause any notable gastronomic distress (that we’re aware of).
There Are Dozens Of Gold Covered Burgers
The hamburger is one of America’s greatest gifts to the world. It’s wonderful in its most simple form, while still leaving itself open for infinite adaptations. While that often results in savory, pretzel roll works of art, it can also occasionally lead to comically and needlessly expensive variations, as we’ve covered in the past. The first time someone decided to take a hamburger, a food that fast food restaurants still frequently sell for less than a dollar, and put gold on it, eyebrows might have been raised. “Lol, a $175 hamburger? With gold? What’s next, twitter as a news source?” a 2008 article asked. By 2012, the story stopped being, “Zomg, gold!” and started to focus on how obnoxiously expensive these burgers were.
If you’re going to try to make a “shocking” menu item by putting gold on an otherwise ordinary food, you should at least aim to be somewhat creative. Hell, you could sprinkle gold on a Hot Pocket and come off as more original and ironic. At this point, you’d have a harder time finding a burger with caviar as a topping than a gold plated burger, and they sell that shit in Japanese Wendy’s. And yes, we realize that so many people put gold on their burgers that we are left complaining that gold-laden hamburgers are “boring” and “unoriginal.” We’re not happy about it, either.
Gold Covered Popcorn
“Hi honey, happy anniversary, I just spent $250 bucks for us to have some popcorn covered in gold flakes and…wait, what are you doing? You’re packing your things? You’re leaving me?”
We’re not saying that conversation has actually happened, but we sort of hope it has. Berco’s Popcorn in Chicago charges $250 for their “Billion Dollar Popcorn,” meaning that there are people who have spent more money on a tin of popcorn than you’ve spent to upgrade to the latest iPhone. Billed as “The Most Expensive Popcorn in the World,” the Billion Dollar Popcorn uses organic sugar, Vermont Creamery butter, Nielson Massey Bourbon Vanilla, and salt from the Danish island of Laeso, harvested using 1000 year old methods and painstakingly purchased just for this product. The product description spends most of its time describing this salt, without a single word about what separates the popcorn itself from any other type of kernel popping corn, all while hoping we, as consumers, would be so mesmerized by the lengths Berco’s went through to procure this special Danish salt that no one would stop to say, “Wait, it’s…just salt. Salt is salt, who cares where it’s from” before heading over to one of the many Garrett popcorn shops, to spend that $250 burning a hole in your pocket earmarked for “obnoxious popcorn purchase” to buy, oh, 13 gallons of high-end popcorn.
Oh right, and then they sprinkle gold on it, because if you’re not going to tricked into spending a quarter of a grand on a tin of corn bits that were placed in boiling oil until they exploded because of some fancy salt, maybe an edible symbol of your increasingly wasted wealth will seal the deal for you. And when you finally finish that last, stale, kernel, because even if you’re trying to ration your obscenely expensive popcorn that stuff still only has about a week of freshness, you will look down at the Cheetos-like dusting of gold flakes that remain and wonder to yourself…do you abandon your dignity and pour the shavings into your greedy gullet, knowing that all you will be tasting is the spare fleck of fancy Danish salt and the slightly tinny nothingness of precious metal crumbs? Or is it somehow more appropriate to dismissively throw the gold away? Not only is this the only popcorn product that costs more than most people earn in a full day of work, but it’s the first popcorn product that actively encourages an existential crisis about the definition of wealth as soon as you finish it.
Gold Covered Cupcake(s)
When you manage to make some absurd gold-adorned food that gets even the Today show to gush, “We’re so over it” you must have hit a new low as far as “pointlessly wasting gold to justify trying to call something the ‘most expensive’ in the world” goes. When that turns into some sort of douchebag arms race of, “I can make my cupcake more expensive than yours” than we might have to rethink whether or not we’ve earned the right to consider ourselves the planet’s dominant species.
First, 2012 gave us the Golden Phoenix, a $1,000 golden cupcake from Bloomsburys in Dubai that tries very hard to justify every single stereotype we have regarding Dubai’s comically unsustainable concept of the idealized lifestyle of excess. According to a unnecessarily dramatically scored video showing the making of the Golden Phoenix, Amedei Prcelana chocolate and Ugandan vanilla beans are baked into a cupcake, which is then encircled with 23-carat edible gold sheets that manage to make the cupcake look dryer than that British comedian who tried to explain cricket to us that one time. Chocolate décor, dusted in gold, is then added, along with gold-dust sprinkled organic chocolate-covered strawberries. Finally, they add a gold bowl with cream, and a gold spoon with chocolate. In case you didn’t notice, they really wanted you to get your gold’s worth with this cupcake.
Thankfully for society as a whole, when this dish was announced by Bloomsbury founder Shafeena Yusuff Ali, there was some backlash from the Dubai twitter population. Unfortunately, those responses included, “caviar isn’t 1 of the ingredients” so, you know, again, we have plenty of time to wonder if maybe dolphins don’t have their shit together better than us.
This doesn’t even hold the title of the world’s most expensive gold-covered cupcake, since a $1,227.70 cupcake was made for London’s National Cupcake Week, made with gold leaf, a gold wrapper, and jams made of peach and champagne. It was displayed in September of 2013 in a glass box alongside a rope and a bouncer because of course it was. In case you haven’t guessed, adding edible gold to an absurdly overpriced food item is pretty much the closest thing mediocre chefs have to a dick measuring contest.
Gold Covered Chocolate Sundae
Of course, those two cupcakes aren’t anywhere near being the most expensive deserts out there, not when you have the owner of New York’s Serendipity 3 (they’re also responsible for one of the gold-covered hamburgers) blending 28 cocoas with five grams of edible gold to make the “Frrozen Haute Chocolate” sundae as a not-too-subtle way to say that you can go to college all you want, but someone is going to spend your first year’s salary as a data administrator to order a misspelled dessert, and why don’t you just try going into crime instead, fuck it, society is broken.
It comes served in a goblet lined with edible gold, an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds on the bottom, and is topped with whipped cream covered in gold and a side of La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschidt Chocolatier. That truffle, by the way, sells for $2,600 a pound, and you once spent an entire night attempting to disprove a certain section of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, and your professor said it was the most singular thing he had ever read, and you can’t remember the last time you’ve even had $2,600 in your checking account, and you no longer wonder why arsonists have the urge to burn down buildings.
$20,000 sundae. Burn it down. Burn it all down.
Gold Covered Milkshake
You remember that time that you met “award-winning” mixologist Adrianne Biggs while she was working at the Powder Room in Hollywood, California, and you made some joke about Pulp Fiction making a big deal about a $5 milk shake, and she was all, “Ha, yeah that was funny. You know what, I think I’m going to make a five hundred dollar milkshake with edible gold and a Swarovski Crystal Nirvana ring” and you were like, “Oh har har, Adrianne, stop joking around,” and she said, “No, I’m totally serious” and then everything went red and you haven’t gone back to the West Coast ever since?
Enter the Velvet Goldmine, a combination of dark-chocolate ganache, Bacardi Reserva Lilmitada, D’USSE VSOP Cognac, organic honey, lavender vanilla ice cream and Ghirardelli chocolate-caramel fudge topped with whipped cream and gold flakes, accompanied by premium truffles, the aforementioned Swarovski ring (to keep!) and a Waterford crystal goblet that you can take home with you (for an extra hundred bucks!). While we are legally bound to acknowledge that this drink can at least get you a little drunk, we’re equally bound to again link to the Powder Room’s website to point out how impressively cheap it looks for a place trying to take half a G from you for an ice cream headache. Seriously, click here, and hover your mouse over the Velvet Goldmine. We just spent five minutes trying to describe the awkwardness of the “description that gets clipped at the top and the bottom” and the “awkward black space with the unformatted drink titles” of this whole thing. Of course, all of these absurd gold-assisted creations don’t quite stack up to the sheer inanity of…
Gold Covered TV Dinner
At $545, this gold sprinkled TV dinner isn’t even close to the most expensive item on the menu. It is, however, a TV Dinner that costs more money than many people make in a week. It is a $545 meal that you’re going to end up microwaving (“Hey there, I actually reheat stuff in the oven” oh no you don’t, who’s got the time to use an oven for a damn TV dinner, huh?). This microwave dinner, assembled by British chef Charlie Bingham, who specializes in take home meals, offers a single serving of lobster, scallops,a turbot fish pie, salmon and oysters, topped with beluga caviar and 24 karat gold crumbles, all of which is delivered to the rich Londoner who would rather not leave his house to needlessly spend money in a locked box handcuffed to a professional security guard.
Sure, Bingham tries to justify the costs through the tried and true method of “buying the most obscure, expensive, exclusive products that, ultimately, taste pretty similar to cheaper versions.” Over and over and over. The turbot in the fish pie is poached in vintage champagne, while the salmon involved is Balik salmon from the Norwegian fjords, which sets you back a cool $406 per kilo. Oysters (interestingly enough, given that oysters taste and expense varies drastically from region to region, these are just “regular ol’ oysters”) and a lobster tail are added, while the hand-dived king scallops are cooked in El Mil Del Poaig, a Spanish olive oil that uses olives from a 2500 year old tree and can cost up to $1,600 a liter. Then it’s all sprinkled with gold, and sent for you, the absolutely most obnoxious rich person in London, to set aside, put in your freezer, and reheat whenever you feel like eating gourmet ingredients that’s been cooked, left to fester for weeks, and then reheated into a rubbery mess. This is slightly less expensive than paying someone to slave over a gourmet feast for a full day only to light it on fire in front of them as you cackle, “No one will eat your food, you worthless piece of slime” but it also takes the joy of the human interaction out of the whole proceeding.
And let’s not forget that gold. That’s the whole purpose of this enterprise in absurdity, but this is our favorite (read as: stupidest) use of gold to “class up” an obnoxiously priced food, because it totally ignores the fact that they made this product to be reheated. So that means, you can either microwave gold (which will end about as badly for your microwave as you’d expect) or you’ll put it in the oven so that your gold can melt and then solidify into hard shells around your expensive re-heated food. So you’re actually making it harder to eat this by adding gold to it. So, you know, good job, Bingham, glad you thought that out while you were picking out your thousand dollar olive oil.
The fact that people buy this should anger you, or at least elicit an extreme eye roll. It sure does for us. Now if you’ll excuse, we’re going to get up some hot pockets in our microwave that hasn’t been cleaned in three years, and then down our sorrows with a nice cheap bottle of Rebel Yell.