We love you, Frank’s RedHot, but do not make us learn what an “edible NFT” is

NFT is the food industry’s new favorite buzzword. It doesn’t have to be yours.

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Eli Manning in Frank's RedHot promotion
Manning hosts a Frank’s RedHot virtual tailgate party in 2020
Photo: Getty Images for Frank’s RedHot (Getty Images)

The concept of NFTs—a term all but unheard of just over a year ago—is one that we have all tried our best to understand. It certainly seems like something important, what with Very Important People left and right showing off their Expensive Bored Apes and talking about how NFTs are, somehow, the future. We have met NFTs more than halfway, patiently reading explainer articles and trying to retain what the blockchain is, but despite our best efforts to comprehend them, their utility, their significance, their raison d’etre, remains elusive. This is all to say that you can feel free to ignore Eli Manning’s current promotion of “edible NFTs” and “Bonecoins” on behalf of Frank’s RedHot.

Manning went on Today this morning and began speaking in what might have sounded like utter gibberish a few short months ago and which regrettably still sounds like gibberish to 99.9% of the population (Manning presumably included). The Big Lead explains that Manning’s perfunctory recitation of the Frank’s RedHot promotion “elicited incredulous laughter from Al Roker and a sober dose of reality to anyone else trying to make sense of our current world.” Here’s how Manning explained his current NFT promotion (thank you Rob Tornoe for clipping the video):

Through February 13, as you’re eating your chicken wings, if you scan a picture of your chicken wing bone you can earn what’s called Bonecoins. Whoever earns the most Bonecoins can win this NFT. It’s a real NFT, a digital one, and then also they’ll ship you an edible NFT that you can eat… I’ll be handing out some Frank’s RedHot wings today in New York City, on Broadway between 58th and 59th, so people can start earning their Bonecoins right now.

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Manning is a consummate spokesman, delivering this information with a smile that only starts to falter as he thinks ahead to the day’s wing-distribution obligations. In that moment, perhaps he’s wondering with dread whether he’ll have to answer fans’ detailed questions about the Bonecoins and explain what exactly makes a food item an “edible NFT” when all food is, by definition, rather fungible indeed.

Now, of course Bonecoin is a spoof cryptocurrency—the phrase “spoof cryptocurrency” appears right in the first sentence of a press release about the promotion emailed to The Takeout. Similarly, “edible NFTs” or “eNFTs” are just Frank’s way of getting in on the joke. The only problem is that to satirize a phenomenon like NFTs requires that the consumer first learn about NFTs and understand them enough to know which ones are spoofs and which ones are genuine. This is easier said than done, because cryptocurrency already deals in self-awareness and arguably borders on self-parody. If Dogecoin is real, does Bonecoin really sound like all that much of a stretch?

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We know that brands are eager to capitalize on a trend that has captivated the likes of Justin Bieber and Jimmy Fallon (who wouldn’t?!). But at the risk of sounding like a pack of Luddites, we’ll just say that we long for the days when “Hey, Eli Manning is giving out free wings in Manhattan!” was enough of a promotion on its own, free of QR codes and inscrutable forms of invented currency. We love Frank’s RedHot, and we love a free food giveaway, but please, we beg you, let us eat our hot wings in peace.