I’ve been on a successful diet for about a month now. Bear with me, I know you don’t give a damn about that. However, with great lard loss comes great starvation and, in my success, I’ve gotten to the point where I dream about junk food. I drove down to the Redneck Riviera for Labor Day Weekend and literally thought about burgers and candy and tacos the whole way down. It’s torturous. It was that experience that inspired me to power rank the top ten food inventions of the past hundred years… because it’s literally all I can think about.
1. The Cheeseburger
There are conflicting accounts of when the greatest food invention of all time was actually invented. Some say it was in Texas in the late 1800s. Some say it was during the early 20th century. Whichever it was, it gained prominence in the early to mid-20th century with the emergence of the fast food industry. It’s so simple, yet so amazing. Bread, meat, cheese, and a multitude of toppings like ketchup, mustard, fried green tomatoes, chili, and much more. There are cheeseburgers with donuts for buns for goodness sake. In the words of Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!” I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and…okay I’ll stop. Regardless, the cheeseburger holds the undisputed number one spot on the top ten greatest food inventions of the past 100 years.
2. Doritos Locos Tacos
There has been no greater food genius than the man who found a way to improve the taco. The taco is a near-perfect food item. It’s basically a Mexican cheeseburger. Before some hippie starts lecturing me, just know that I don’t really care where Taco Bell’s meat comes from. What I do care about is that one day some brilliant food phenom thought it would be a great idea to make taco shells out of Doritos. Taco Bell tacos are decent drunk food, but Doritos Locos tacos took it to another level, and now they’ve expanded Doritos Locos to multiple Doritos flavors. The next time I get drunk you had better believe I am dishing out for Postmates to bring me a big box of Doritos Locos tacos with Fire sauce.
3. Cookie Sandwiches
At first, I was going to specify Oreos, but that’s unfair to all the other great cookie sandwiches. Obviously Oreos are great, and if you’re going to give yourself type 2 diabetes you may as well glue two cookies together with a creme filling than just having two separate cookies. You can get similarly styled cookies from mall cookie vendors. Two M&M cookies stuck together with creme? Who cares about calories at that point? Other variants of this style of cookie are ice cream sandwich cookies and oatmeal cream pies. Who doesn’t like cream pies?
Chipotle doubled down on their delicious burritos with this “secret menu” item that will likely permanently expand your stomach. The only thing better than a burrito is a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla. There are very few foods that can’t be improved with additional cheese, especially melted cheese.
5. Mozzarella Sticks
Speaking of cheese, the next greatest food invention is simply a breaded cheese stick. Nothing more, nothing less. You just heat it up and dip it in marinara sauce and happily clog your arteries. They’re good for meals, in between meals, but not when you’re on the go. But breaded cheese…who can complain about that?
6. Bagel Bites
The next few foods in the power rankings are iterations of pizza, because pizza is the reigning king of junk food. The next step after popularizing pizza encompassed the following two major issues involving pizza: how do we make pizza more portable and how do we improve pizza? Bagel Bites are obviously at the top here, because it’s basically a box of tiny pizzas you can pop in the microwave and gorge on without making a mess. They’re delicious, convenient, and portable.
7. Pizza Rolls
These have similar benefits to Bagel Bites except that there is less bread and more molten cheese. You can basically pound handfuls of these like a starving raccoon and never get enough. The only downside of pizza rolls is that if you don’t wait for them to be the perfect temperature they will burn your mouth until you can’t taste them or they will be too cold for you to enjoy the warm cheesy saucy goodness.
8. Stuffed Crust Pizza
How do you improve pizza, the king of junk food? Improve the crust. How do you improve the crust? Make it cheesier. Granted, I like extra sauce on my pizza but cheesiness is still the most important quality of pizza. I generally hate crust, but turning crust into a breadstick-cheese hybrid that can be dipped in some kind of sauce means you don’t have to leave any crusts behind.
How do you know a food item is good? When it’s selling for up to $100 per box when the company that makes it shuts down. We all remember how the legendary snack company started in 1919, that survived the Great Depression and the “Great Recession,” was forced into bankruptcy by its own bakers’ labor union. Luckily, the creme-filled snack cake has survived as the Gores Group bought a majority stake in Hostess when it looked like all was lost. When it looked like Twinkies would disappear forever, people were successfully selling them for 20+ times the retail price. You don’t get that kind of price unless you’re one of the greatest food inventions of all time.
10. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
As much as I’d like to put this at number one, it fits just as well at number ten. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups are the perfect blend of chocolate and peanut butter and, if you’ve never tried it, are even better frozen. They’ve been around since the early 20th century for a reason. They went from Reese’s cups to king size to mini cups to big cups and the other day a friend of my parents gave me a new product they are testing—a Reese’s big cup filled with Reese’s Pieces. I could eat these until I die of type 2 diabetes, but at least I’d die happy. .