Today I got invited to the balls-ugly Overland Park Convention Center to attend what I understood to be some kind of merchant convention, featuring food. My contact there had no idea what it would be like either, apparently, describing it as some kind of “Hen House thing.” Hen House is a local supermarket chain. So, on my quest for lunch, I decied to swing by and check it out.
Holy fucking moley. I still don’t know what the damn thing was actually called, so let’s just call it “The Junk Food Carnival for the Elderly.” The entire main convention hall – a room the size of three high school gymnasiums stacked back-to-back – was filled with folks stuffing pretzels and ice cream and doughnuts into the mouths and pockets of our most senior citizens. Ha, what a freakshow! Hey, let’s liveblog it!
11:55: I just snuck by the front desk by pointing at the convention hall and saying, “I have to, uh…” Not the tightest security I’ve ever seen.
11:56: Oh my christ, look at all of this shit. The first booth you see when you walk in is a florist, but just IGNORE THAT SHIT because beyond it is an absolute fuckload of amazing food. This place smells like someone just made a pizza and topped it with coffee and a cheesecake and potato chips, then topped it with twinkie filling. I think I just peed myself a bit.
11:58: I find my source, who hands me a whole plate of pepperoni pizza without me saying a word. “What’s this?” I ask.
We’re off to a good start.
Oh, but look at all of these old folks! Man, they are like a swarm of hyenas out here. Hyenas who only hunt freebies at food conventions. I bet those pockets are packed to the brim with cookies and shit. I need something to wash this pizza down. I see a “Lifewater” stand across the way. Lifewater, ho!
12:00: I decide to wash down my pizza with a miniature tub of vanilla ice cream. Refreshing. God, this is really a lot of ice cream to eat at noon. And it is fucking SWEET, as in, it tastes like I’m eating handfuls of sugar and chasing it with shots of double cream. I might have to put myself on injured reserve after this, with diabetes.
12:03: Oh for fuck’s sake, there’s the Spam stand. And it has a freaking CROWD around it. These freaks will eat anything. I walk up to the stand to take a gander at the horse butthole souffle, but the Spam guy reels me in.
“Hey, you want to try a bit?” He’s got a whole tray of the shit. It looks like it’s been grilled or fried or something. Vomit.
“Oh, uh, I don’t think so.”
“What, is it because of what it’s made of?” the guy asks me. “I bet you think it’s all lips and assholes and things, right?” The Spam guy just said the word “assholes” to me. My mind is blown. One of the ladies standing around the table looks at him like he just cut a fart and shuffles off. “Well, let me tell you: It’s not. That’s not what it’s made of.”
He goes on and on about how it’s actually, like, the parts of a ham you throw away or something, but I’m not listening anymore. At this point, I’m resigned to actually eating some of this shit. I see another lady walk by and jam a whole chunk of it in her mouth, like it’s no big deal. “Holy shit, she just ate it! Did you see that shit?” I say to the guy. He agrees. I grab a little chunk of it on a toothpick and stick it in my mouth.
Holy fuck, I just ate Spam. Put it in my mouth, chewed it, swallowed it, the whole thing. And you know what? It tastes like FUCKING DOG SHIT. You should NEVER eat this shit, ever. I could tell the guy this, but he looks at me with this sly smile, like he knows. He’s just fucking with people, really. Convincing them to eat Spam. Motherfucker. Well, good for you, Spam guy. That’s a tick in the win column for you, asshole. I hope someone steps on your balls while you’re sleeping.
12:05: I just walked by a booth handing out pocket-sized deodorants. I could basically take a handful and stuff them in my pockets if I wanted, so I do. They’ll come in handy when I break out in diabetic flop sweat after taking shots of melted ice cream all afternoon.
12:08: I strike up a conversation with two nice old ladies at the Best Choice booth. Best Choice, if you don’t know, is a company that makes generic versions of popular branded foods, like orange soda and canned green beans. These nice folks are handing out apple juice and Best Choice-brand Chex Mix, along with samples of their branded counterparts for comparison.
“Hey ladies, what do we have here?” I say. They explain the apple juice situation to me, and I take a thimbleful of each.
“You won’t be able to tell the difference!” One of the ladies assures me.
“Well, I just ate like a bucket of ice cream, so at this point I can’t really taste anything. But hey, bottoms up!” I drink them both, one after the other. “Nope, no difference. Both taste like vanilla.”
Then I try the, oh, fuck’s it called? Party mix? The other lady explains that the Chex Mix had one less gram of fat than the Best Choice, stuff, but that the Best Choice is far less expensive. I try them both, and let me tell you: they’re kind of right, both about the juice and the party mix. They both taste about the same. God, we’re all such slaves to branding! Our terrible consumer culture, etc.
But I’ll say this: The Chex Mix seemed to be, um, fresher. Or maybe less soggy? Something. So there’s that.
12:10: I don’t know what it’s about, but there is a huge cardboard cow giving everyone the international “shocker” sign. I will not be patronizing that booth. Oh shit, but they do have chocolate milk! OK, I will be patronizing that booth.
12:13: I think I’m winding down, food-wise. I just ate a part of a glorified hot dog from some organic, free-range farm stand. Nothing cleanses the palette after an ice cream and Spam binge like a chunk of cold hot dog. There will be a junk food fist fight going on in my colon later.
12:15: I find the Roasterie coffee stand, to help stave off a food coma, but then I see the Dunkin’ Donuts stand around the corner. Listen: I love the Roasterie. It’s a great local company. They serve good coffee. I spend most of my waking hours in their outstanding cafe in Brookside.
But when I see Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, I douse myself. It’s one of a handful of east-coast, big city pleasures that just don’t exist in Kansas City: Dunkin’ Donuts, White Castle, shitloads of all-night diners, and good delis. But mainly Dunkin’ Donuts. In New York or Chicago, you can’t spit in any direction without hitting either a Dunkin’ Donuts or a 7-11. Dunkin’ Donuts serves two things: OK donuts, and the best fucking coffee on the planet. And I haven’t had a cup of it in a year or more.
So I walk up to the guy with a steaming hot cup of coffee in my hand and ask him for a cup of coffee. He doesn’t even flinch. These old folks have been stockpiling pastries and shit here all day; me asking for a coffee with a coffee in my hand doesn’t even register. Or he doesn’t give a shit. One or the other.
Anyway, I ditch the Roasterie and slam the Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s basically the oil that greases the gears of junk food in my stomach. Fuck my life. But whatever, I feel fine. Time to head for the door.
12:19: I walk by a whole plate of cookies, but they look disgusting, so I leave. But hey, what are these cool canvas bags everyone is hauling around? Do they have fucking DOOR PRIZES in them? WANT ONE PLZ. Oh, but wait. They’re behind the table where I was supposed to check in and pay my five bucks to walk around this shitshow. Whatever, I HAS NO MONIES, liveblog over.