Viral news stories about convenience foods are often about the preservatives in those foods, and how they are capable of, say, keeping a McDonald’s burger unchanged for 25 years. We almost expect this of our food at this point, thanks to apocalypse-centric pop culture that instructs us to hoard things like Twinkies for when times get tough. And while canned foods are a long-lasting shelf-stable investment, they still need to be consumed in a reasonable amount of time, lest they end up like the Chef Boyardee horror show that is this can of Spider-Man pasta from 1995, unleashed upon the world by Twitter user @DinosaurDracula yesterday afternoon.
Let’s first think about how long ago 1995 is. Tobey Maguire was still seven years away from revitalizing Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise (thank you, Tobey). We are historically further away from this can of kiddie pasta shapes than 1995 was from Super Bowl V or the debut of Pong. All this to say, it’s a can that’s probably best left to forever contain what lies within, a Pandora’s (Pandoyardee’s?) Box of sauce and carbs. But Dinosaur Dracula forged ahead.
And this is no typical viral Twitter thread. Our intrepid Spider-Man sleuth narrated their journey with all the panache of a sci-fi thriller: “I put the can opener to work, unsettled by the rust, but emboldened by the lack of noxious fumes,” the second tweet reads. “I turn the knob and wince, unable to rule out the possibility that the contents have mutated into something alive & malevolent.” (Some might find the lack of noxious fumes even more unsettling than a foul stench, but this is not my journey, and I am not Dinosaur Dracula.)
By tweet number three, we’re given the peek into the can that inquiring minds want to see. I warn you, the image is grisly.
The thing that made me gasp aloud at this image is just how empty the can is, how fully concentrated its contents have become across their decades of neglect. The corrosion in the can is at such odds with the cheeriness of the Spidey label that it can only read like a metaphor for, I don’t know, the facades we all present to one another every day? The dark underbelly of society? The villainy that’s ever lurking under Spider-Man’s Manhattan?
Finally, Dinosaur Dracula removed the contents from the can, and the result is some grotesquerie that has quickly found a home deep inside my brain from which it cannot be wedged.
Can you spot the odd circular features near the bottom of the clump? Dinosaur Dracula did, too. “I think I notice something, but consult the label on the can to be sure,” the final tweet reads. “Indeed, there’s poor Spider-Man, trapped in this godforsaken toxic monstrosity. I’m sorry, Peter. With old pasta comes great instability.”
And that’s the saga of a can of Chef Boyardee old enough to rent a car. May none of this be a familiar scenario to those of you currently cleaning out your pantries.