I ate a White Claw pizza and I don’t even know what’s normal anymore
Is the world ready for ridiculous PR promotions yet?
It’s been three months since I sat down to eat at a restaurant, and, frankly, it’s not something I’m itching to do. I don’t know what you can’t get at a restaurant that you can’t get from takeout apart from a requirement to wear pants, but that’s just me. I know restaurants are getting their shit together safety-wise, and I wouldn’t want to deny any foodie’s pleasure (good lord imagine the bloodshed if we suddenly took away brunch again), but I just don’t feel the need to partake in socially-distanced eating in half-empty restaurants.
Or, that is, until I learned about White Claw pizza.
The email comes forwarded by a friend who knows my weakness for the basic alcoholic beverage:
Blaze Pizza, which has more than 300 locations across the country, will offer a pizza crust made with Mango White Claw. The dough will be made fresh in-restaurant, crafted with flour, yeast, extra virgin olive oil, salt, a pinch of sugar…..and Mango White Claw instead of filtered water.
It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted the sweet, sweet hit of a ridiculous PR pitch. Before lockdown, I may not have batted an eye at the idea of a White Claw pizza… actually, no, I still would’ve still flipped my shit over White Claw pizza, but now that consumerist novelties are at an all-time low, this email feels like my white (claw) whale.
During this lockdown, my ironic love for White Claw has blossomed into a full-blown, real-ass love. I initially told myself it’s for health reasons — since I’m already drinking my way through the pandemic, why not go for something with low carbs? But honestly, a can of Miller Lite has fewer carbs than a White Claw, so I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I just absolutely love the taste of The Claw.
And I’m not trying to be a shill for the company, because I recognize that a love for White Claw makes anyone an objectively bad person.
But what does a promotion like this mean these days? Like, really mean? Pre-Covid, flash-in-the-pan events were quickly becoming the standard of consumerist culture. Often, these half-baked ideas relied more on the fast, disposable appeal that influencers-in-training use to instill FOMO. But looking back, who the fuck wanted a unicorn frappucino? Or one of Burger King’s ghoulishly-tinted Whoppers? Now that our priorities are more focused these days (i.e. safety, food, health, scolding people on the internet, generally hating each other), our collective desire to performatively experience frivolity seems a little tampered.
Which, again, raises many questions: why is Blaze promoting a novelty pizza in the midst of a pandemic? Is this a sign of cultural healing? More importantly, what does it say about me that I want nothing more than to partake in this frivolity?
When I step into the Blaze pizza on Balboa Avenue, I realize with profound sadness that my first dining-out experience in three months will be at a Blaze.
There’s nothing in the restaurant that would indicate the White Claw promotion. No poster, no mango-flavored pizza mascot, nada. Even if I wanted a selfie to prove just how kooky my consumerist escapade is, there’s no way to let the world know that I’m anything but a man alone in what is essentially the Subway of pizza joints.
I creep up to the counter. “Um, are you doing the White Claw thing?” I ask one
“Yeeaah?” says the pizza artist, and I can tell by her reaction that I’m definitely the first person to inquire about White Claw pizza today. Of course I am. Who else would be dumb enough to brave a deadly virus for a slice of novelty?
“Nice!” I say with a stupid amount of gusto.
“It’s going to be a little sweet,” the server says. “So I recommend you choose spicy toppings.”
“Sweet!” I say, and immediately want to die. By her recommendation, I go with the “Hot Link” signature pie, which has italian sausage, jalapenos, spicy red sauce and a few other things that I know will punish my sensitive stomach. But, hey, I didn’t come here to play it safe. Obvi.
The pizza comes out. It looks like a pizza. I take my little pie to the outdoor dining area, where I am alone with my spoils. I extract a slice, and the cheese stretches unnaturally and therefore appealingly. I can’t deny the power of the moment. I forget that I’m just at a Blaze eating novelty pizza, and for a second I’m at FUCKING BLAZE EATING NOVELTY PIZZA. Hell yeah, normalcy.
I take a bite. It’s okay. Honestly, I can’t really taste the Claw. It’s not until I get to the naked crust that I taste a hint of mango and… meh. I finish the rest of the pizza and almost immediately forget about it. This is not an indictment of Blaze’s quality per se, because what else was I supposed to expect? Someone held up something shiny and new, and I — being a chump — fell for it. Simply, I got got. Ahhh, just like the good old days. C'est la vie.
But maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps my fervent obsession and then immediate dissatisfaction was always how I regarded these things. How we all treated these things! In a way, it’s kind of comforting to know that not much has changed. Or, whatever. I don’t care anymore. I’m over it.
By Kelly Davis
Starlite's cocktails to-go // @starlitesd
There’s a long list of restaurants that I hope survive the coronavirus shutdown and at the top of the list is Starlite. It has a special place in my heart for many reasons. So I was stoked to hear they’d recently started doing take-out, cocktails included. The list of offerings (scroll past the food menu for cocktails) is a perfect range of potent (The Bellman, Salted Maple Old Fashioned) to light and approachable (Pomegranate Sparkler). And, of course, there’s the famous Starlite Mule and two Mule spinoffs (Kentucky Colonel and Palomino).
Bitters are so often a key ingredient in thoughtful cocktails like Starlite’s Bellman (black walnut bitters) and Salted Maple Old Fashioned (mole bitters). Think of bitters as seasonings for cocktails. Having a good set of bitters is one of the easiest ways to up your home cocktail game.
Two brands you’ll see most often are Angostura and Peychaud’s. Unless you plan to make Sazeracs, you don’t really need Peychaud’s. Angostura is more of a staple, used in Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. But here’s where you can get creative. Go a little crazy. Use orange bitters instead of Angostura. Or, take a cue from Starlite’s Salted Maple Old Fashioned and go with mole bitters. I’m a big fan of celery bitters, which appear in Ironside’s now-classic Skubic Diver cocktail. They’re also great in a Gimlet.
You can find Peychaud’s and Angostura almost anywhere. For the fancy stuff, pull up Collins & Coupe’s website (they’re currently doing pick-up and delivery). You can easily go down a rabbit hole here — Tasmanian Pepperberry, eh? You can’t go wrong with a Hella Bitters sampler set or the Scrappy’s Essentials Mini Set. Berg & Hauck’s kit is affordable and includes celery bitters! If you want to support local companies, Boy Drinks World’s Serrano Cocktail Spice is pretty incredible and I’m also a fan of their Aromatic Walnut Bitters. Instead of Angostura, try R&D Bitters Aromatic #7. I’m also a fan of R&D’s Floral Bitters, which make Prohibition’s You’re Turning Violet, Violet cocktail (gin, Crème de Violette, lemon juice, orgeat) extra nice.
This week, I wrote about summer blockbusters over at PACIFIC Magazine. I have a complicated relationship with summer movies because they taught me how to love films, but they also taught me how to hate films. I mean, I could go the rest of my life without ever seeing a Marvel film and be okay with that. I talk about all this in the article, and also wonder if this abbreviated blockbuster season is a good opportunity for the film industry to catch its breath and come back next year with more original stuff. One can always dream, right?
THE WEEKLY GOODS
Listen to this
It’s difficult to talk about the sexuality and sensuality of Le Ra’s new music video without feeling like some Howard Stern-esque creep. But the cross-border group has never been shy about making strong statements, and the video for “Tempted” is indeed bold — complete with underwear, knives, weed and people getting it on. The song is equal parts sultry and sleazy, and kinda reminds me of mid-’90s PJ Harvey or Garbage (at least until the psychedelic end), and the visuals have an awesome grindhouse vibe. But the whole thing is a testament to breaking free from the constraints that can turn a relationship sour, even if it means getting a little dirty in the process.
Last week, there was a campaign to Blackout the bookseller list, which encouraged people to buy two books from Black authors, with a goal to amplify Black voices in an industry where they’re largely underrepresented. The campaign made me realize just how white my TBR pile is, unfortunately, so I’m setting out to change that. And as book lovers, we should be doing this anyway, not just during one hashtagged week.
So, over the past few days, I burned through Steven Dunn’s novel water & power, which is a collage-style book about his experience in the Navy. The mixed format strings together first-person accounts, interviews, images, and poetry into a funny and haunting look inside the armed forces. It’s absolutely compelling and you should buy it.
National Security Adviser John Bolton has a new book out, but, like, who fucking cares. Instead of reading it, photoshop him a new mustache for him instead.
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Julia Dixon Evans edited this post. Thanks, Julia. Go follow her on Twitter.