This weekend Walmart creeped out a lot of people with a Facebook ad offering free, two-day shipping on "Funeral Potatoes."
"What are funeral potatoes?" the internet asked. "And why do I need two-day shipping on them? Is this a threat?"
Funeral potatoes are not an April Fool's prank. According to Munchies, it's a real dish, and it's a regional specialty in Utah and the Midwest.
Funeral potatoes (read: cheesy potato casserole) are extraordinarily popular at Mormon family events like, well, funerals. They're not just for funerals, but with a name like that, one imagines it would be hard to shake off the maudlin associations.
Is it bad luck to serve funeral potatoes at a wedding? Or a baby shower? Could you get passive-aggressive and make funeral potatoes for someone you didn't like? Or would the potatoes just be received as a nice casserole gift, and nobody would pick up on the "I hope you die" subtext?
Funeral potatoes sound delicious. You really can't go wrong with the combination of potatoes, cream, and cheese. And funeral potatoes are far from the only dish in the world with a name that might make a person pause. They're actually in pretty good company.
Here are just a few other delicious dishes from around the world with names that might make a person do a double-take.
Spotted Dick is a British pastry "spotted" with dried fruit. I've always wondered if the name of this dish sounds normal to British people, but apparently the phrase "spotted Dick" sounds just as snort-worthy over there as it does in America. The catering staff of the Flintshire County Council renamed it "Spotted Richard" just to keep people from making jokes about it.
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Spaghetti alla puttanesca actually means "spaghetti in the style of a prostitute." It sounds like the sort of name that might have been dreamed up in the 18th century, but spaghetti alla puttanesca is actually a relatively recent invention. The earliest references to it are from the 1960s, and food historians say it probably dates to the mid-20th century.
There are a lot of legends about how the dish got its name, but nobody really seems to be sure. It's a really great dish, though. It's flavorful, easy, and you can cook it from start to finish in less time than you might spend googling, "How did spaghetti alla puttanesca get its name?"
Strozzapreti means "priest-stranglers," and the impious name is another matter of legend. Maybe people thought they looked like priests' collars, or maybe people were angry about having to tithe to the church and thought, "This pasta is for the priest, and I hope he chokes on it." However they got their name, these fat, rolled noodles are excellent with lemony ricotta and basil.
Maltagliati is one of my favorite pastas, partly because it is so easy to make, but mostly because it means "badly cut." It's flat pieces of pasta cut into irregular shapes, and it's a good use of pasta scraps. It's called "badly cut," so you really can't mess it up.
"Oya" means parent and "ko" means child, and whoever decided that "parent and child over rice" was a good name for a dish made of chicken and eggs was very clever, but this name is too real for me. Every time I eat oyakodon, I picture anthropomorphized hens looking at me in abject horror. It's basically like this.
A perfect roast chicken is one of the most delicious foods you can pull out of the oven, and an excellent roast chicken with lemon recipe doesn't deserve a dumb name like Engagement Chicken.
"It's so good that if you make it for a man, he'll propose to you!" It's an eye-roll of a punchline on a plate. It sounds like it should be served alongside "Dad's Babysitting the Kids" mashed potatoes, and we can all have "Math is Hard" ice cream for dessert.
What are the best food names you've heard?