I Tried Dipping My Chix Tenders in Soda Like That Deranged Woman at the US Open
I've watched the clip hundreds, potentially thousands of times today. And it's still as mesmerizing as the second I laid eyes on it.
In case you've been paying attention to political dumpster fires, the impeding NFL season and its eternal drum line of controversy, or sending your children back to school, you might have missed this weekend's viral food faux pas: This woman, at the U.S. Open no less, dipped one of her chicken tenders in her soda and then ate it.
On national television.
And she didn't even seem to be inebriated.
Naturally, most of Twitter and the internet at-large were quick to express their total, abhorrent disgust. But I, for one, wanted to dig a little deeper here, to understand the why at the calorically loaded center of this mystery.
For their part, Fox News took a break from screaming at America and actually got in touch with the soda-dipper in question, Alexa Greenfield, who had this to say:
“My dad started me with [dipping chicken fingers in soda] I think to ‘cool’ it down, but I just loved the taste and kept going. Once I got older I gave it up for a while assuming it would be way too weird to bring it into adulthood. But one day I said ‘eff it,’ and re-started [dipping her tendies into soda]."
As a lifelong proponent of dipping things into slightly odd things, I find it hard to judge young Alexa on her inherited idiosyncrasies. In fact, I decided to buck up, say "eff it" myself, and give her soda sauce a twirl.
And the results were... well, they were certainly results.
My first, gut reaction was something along the lines of:
"Hmm. No, wait. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew."
Which, translated, is essentially one split-second of palate-confounding juxtaposition, coupled with about a minute of gagging in the wake of a cold, slimy, aftertaste.
I will say this about dipping your chicken tender in soda: It's not good. The texture is appalling. The cold soda turns the tender to an unappetizing cold, soggy stick of poultry disappointment. It's the (even more) hedonistic, chicken finger analogue to Kobayashi dipping his hot dog buns in water and swallowing them like a duck.
I really did have an open mind here... I wanted to like it. And at first, the sweet coating of the soda atop the tender actually wasn't horrible; it reminded me of Dr. Pepper-infused BBQ sauce. But the texture of the soaked tender was like breaded ipecac.
So as I sit here, with a ruined chicken tender (and a ruined soda, too!), I have to think to myself, that perhaps not all beloved food traditions have redeeming qualities. Not every culinary quirk needs objective justification. People do weird shit to their food. Weird, baffling, health-averse things.
And honestly, sometimes it may be better to stay out of it.
Especially when chicken tenders are involved.