10 Foods That Cause Arguments Every Time They’re Mentioned

10 Foods That Cause Arguments Every Time They’re Mentioned

People will throw down when it comes to these foods and drinks, and boy, does it get rowdy!

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
cheesesteak
Photo: Matthew Yoder (Shutterstock)

Let’s face it: people are opinionated about their food. So are we, by the way (mayo on hot dogs, anyone?). Personally, I think it’s really entertaining when people get mad at each other about their food preferences, especially online. That’s when the real barbs come out, and the purists decry the choices of people who like to deviate from tried and true standards. You should all see what happens when you say the words “ketchup” and “hot dogs” in the same sentence here in Chicago.

Here are 10 of the most argued-about foods. Don’t be shy—let us know if you have any strong opinions on any of them, because like I said, I like a good food fight now and again.

Advertisement

2 / 12

Hot dogs and their toppings

Hot dogs and their toppings

chicago style hot dog
Photo: Brent Hofacker (Shutterstock)

Calm down, everyone. They’re just hot dogs, for cryin’ out loud. Topping arguments about hot dogs are really divisive—people’s opinions on ketchup on hot dogs nearly land you in a fistfight here in Chicago. For me, it’s all about context. If I’m at a hot dog stand, I’ll ask for a “dog with everything,” which includes tomatoes, onions, mustard, really weird green relish, pickles, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. I like the veggies and pickles on my hot dogs to make it feel like a whole meal. There are minimalist interpretations too.

When I’m at a backyard barbecue, however, all bets are off. In those cases, I like to top my dogs with my version of the holy trinity: ketchup, mustard, and relish, all in equal quantities. Across the country, though, I am sure you’re all raising your own blood pressure talking about what actually belongs on a hot dog, and you’re getting mad at me for talking about what I like on mine.

Advertisement

3 / 12

Old-Fashioneds: bourbon vs. brandy

Old-Fashioneds: bourbon vs. brandy

old fashioned
Photo: Joshua Resnick (Shutterstock)

Okay, so this is sort of hyper-regional, but it’s certainly worth mentioning if you’ve never heard of it. Cocktail drinkers know that a standard Old Fashioned is made with bourbon and a splash of water, but in Wisconsin, there’s a variation that the locals swear by: the brandy Old Fashioned.

The liquor of choice makes a big difference. Brandy is derived from grapes, so it has a slightly winey and fruity characteristic to it, compared to bourbon, which is more caramelly and slightly smoky. Instead of still water, the drink is finished with lemon lime soda like Sprite, which gives it an added sugary and tangy note. The end result is pretty sweet, but it still packs a good punch.

In my opinion, a brandy Old Fashioned and a bourbon Old Fashioned are two totally different drinks, but I’ve watched Illinois drinkers roast Wisconsinites over this, and vice versa. Maybe it speaks to the state rivalries (our uh, affectionate, nickname up in Wisconsin is “FIB,” aka “Fuckin’ Illinois Bastards” if that says anything). I am going to say, though, a brandy old fashioned is awesome, and if you’re in a supper club, it tastes even better with a relish tray.

Advertisement

4 / 12

Buffalo wings and the best places to get them

Buffalo wings and the best places to get them

buffalo wings
Photo: Foodio (Shutterstock)

I feel like this is a pretty regional point of contention with some people, but the scuffle about Buffalo wings (which are hilariously easy to make at home) does spill over a little across the country. Listen. I’m all the way in Chicago, and I know you Buffalo natives squabble about where to get the best ones. Most of the time the arguments fall on which hometown restaurants are the best, or which have the best sauce.

Across the country, we aren’t so lucky to have that many choices. We’re stuck with chains (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), and if we’re lucky, we’ve got a nearby bar that sells a passable or killer version. I’m guessing they’re not exactly the same as the ones in Buffalo. But Buffalo natives, I feel your passion radiating all the way across the country, so argue away. I’m just taking notes for when I come visit someday.

Advertisement

5 / 12

Variations on pasta carbonara

Variations on pasta carbonara

pasta carbonara
Photo: DronG (Shutterstock)

I hate to say it, but I love when people get in arguments over one specific version of a dish. Why does everyone get so angry over pasta carbonara? Come on, everyone, there’s egg yolks, cheese, cured meat, and various cooking techniques depending on how you like your resulting sauce. If you add any other ingredients from there, you might strike a nerve. The deviations are few, but if you even mention the word “peas,” you better put on a full suit of medieval armor, because someone on the internet is probably coming for you.

Advertisement

6 / 12

Pizza, pretty much everything about pizza

Pizza, pretty much everything about pizza

hands grabbing pizza
Photo: JOKE_PHATRAPONG (Shutterstock)

Mention pizza, and get ready for someone in the room to give you an unsolicited opinion on their favorite version. There’s what feels like a billion different types (I know, I wrote a damn guide on it), and as a former pizza guy, I’ve heard everything. My eyes still roll at those dumb casserole deep dish comments (get your own jokes, people).

There’s countless arguments over New York style (I’ve found these people to be the touchiest), tavern-style, Detroit-style, all of it. I’ve had New Yorkers, perfect strangers, insult me to my face when I told them I was from Chicago. They were genuinely cruel. I told those clowns I was making pizza that was from a place based in Brooklyn (Paulie Gee’s) and they were still mean to me for no reason.

As someone who made pizza for a long time, we pizzamakers have an unspoken respect for all styles and the people behind them. I’m not playing a “why can’t we all get along” card, I’m just saying that the arguments are totally pointless when the pizza’s end result is to bring you sheer joy.

Advertisement

7 / 12

Cheesesteaks that aren’t from Philadelphia

Cheesesteaks that aren’t from Philadelphia

cheesesteak
Photo: Alp Aksoy (Shutterstock)

I’m part of a cheesesteak group on Facebook, and it’s not necessarily because I’m a mega-fan of cheesesteaks. It’s because I find the arguments in that group hilarious. The discussion is mostly Philly-based, and I am fascinated with just how angry this particular group can get when people stand by certain sandwiches or topping combinations. Good luck if you post about a sandwich from somewhere that isn’t Philadelphia, because people will usually tear it apart.

For example, I had no idea anyone anywhere put ketchup on cheesesteak sandwiches until I joined this group. I always just assumed a cheesesteak was like, meat, cheese, onions, and very occasional extras like hot peppers (referred to as “long hots” in their neck of the woods), mushrooms, along with slight variations like a pizza cheesesteak, which is topped with red sauce and cheese. If you post a photo of a cheesesteak with ketchup on it, you will be mocked endlessly.

When the cheesesteak fan gets crabby, I’m telling you, they get crabby. I just like to sit back and watch the fireworks.

Advertisement

8 / 12

Chili: beans vs. no beans

Chili: beans vs. no beans

chili with beans in bowl
Photo: fotocat5 (Shutterstock)

If you’re a beans-in chili person versus someone who thinks chili should just be a bowl of meat, take cover. This is also a subject people get cranky about. Come on guys, it’s about beans of all things. There’s issues of climate change, international wars, economics, and you choose to spend time arguing about beans?

Those chili con carne people, I’m guessing, have deep connections to the south, mainly Texas, where the dish is meat only. Other regions are sort of a crapshoot, where I’ve also seen chili served only with ground beef, like in the case of Cincinnati style and the hot dog topping. The chili I make at home typically has beans in it, mostly cause well, I like beans, plus they’re good for you. I kind of feel like chili con carne is its own dish, but again, that’s my opinion, and am fully prepared to deal with the consequences of my own stance on the matter.

Advertisement

9 / 12

Barbecue and which region is superior

Barbecue and which region is superior

hand holding bbq while slicing it
Photo: Golubovy (Shutterstock)

If you’re someone who lives in a region famous for barbecue, I’m sure you rep your local shit like crazy. I’m talking about whole hog, Memphis-style, Kansas City, California tri-tip, and all that good stuff.

It’s one of my favorite foods, because the siren song of smoke and slow cooking makes for an irresistible end result of tender and ultra-flavorful meat. Hey, did you know there’s even a Chicago style of barbecue? It’s done in an a smoker that looks like an aquarium, and we’re a fan of rib tips, which are the cartilaginous (not a word I get to use often) end portion of the rib that takes well to heavy smoke and seasoning.

I could be wrong, but I think the most passionate arguments I’ve heard come from Texans, who favor their beef above all else. I don’t have it often, but a perfectly smoked brisket is a pretty compelling reason to champion the style. I do have to say, however, that barbecue enthusiasts who like to argue with each other now and then are a pretty friendly bunch, who just rib (heh, rib) each other because they love it so much.

Advertisement

10 / 12

Hoagies and the best way to build them

Hoagies and the best way to build them

submarine sandwich
Photo: Brent Hofacker (Shutterstock)

You know, the Midwest is kind of a woeful dead zone when it comes to a good hoagie. Or sub sandwich. Or grinder. Or hero. Whatever you call this torpedo-shaped sandwich, a good version is an absolute thing of beauty. As a part of a Facebook group dedicated to hoagies (let’s just stick to that name), I’ve watched people get mad about sandwiches people post about. Like, really mad.

The arguments usually involve hoagie construction, like whether or not there’s too much meat (people tend to like large quantities), if the bun’s wrong, if there’s too many veggies (or which veggies), and other stuff an outsider like me would ordinarily consider nit-picky. I have noticed that the arguments on hoagies get pretty contentious, so be warned if you’re about to get in a fight over a sandwich.

Advertisement

11 / 12

Ranch dressing: gross or nectar of the gods?

Ranch dressing: gross or nectar of the gods?

bottles of ranch on shelf
Photo: TY Lim (Shutterstock)

Oh man, the joys of ranch dressing are endless. Personally, I’m a fan, but I don’t think it belongs with everything. Never with Buffalo wings (blue cheese for life, baby!), but it can be spectacular with cucumbers and as a wee dipping sauce for cheap frozen pizza. And you know what? I like it on salads from a buffet too—iceberg lettuce and ranch are pretty much best friends.

It’s such a popular dressing and dip that one writer even described it as an American mother sauce, which is a description I find endlessly entertaining. But here’s the thing: I’ve noticed that people who are not a fan of ranch are generally vehemently against it. Like they have a viscerally violent reaction to the stuff. You’re either for it or against it, for the most part—there are not a lot of people who take a neutral Switzerland-style stance on it. Hey, do they eat ranch dressing in Switzerland, anyway?

Advertisement

12 / 12