Welcome to another installment of Shrimp & Grids, the column where we dissect the meals of Instagram’s most followed. Why would we subject ourselves to such scrolling? Because whether we like it or not, the influencer economy is shaping what we buy, wear and yes, eat. Let’s dig in!
Lot going on here. First, there’s JoJo Siwa: YouTuber, high ponytailer, pansexual teenager. The 17-year-old initially rose to prominence as a Dance Moms kid in 2014. In 2016 she released her first single, “Boomerang,” which reached certified platinum status. Whew! With her Nickelodeon attitude and gigantic, floppy bows, Siwa is absolute catnip to the under-12 set. Time named her a top-100 most influential person in 2020, perhaps a nod to her iconic performance as the T-Rex in season three of The Masked Singer. Like I said: lot going on here. But what I wasn’t expecting here was the crossover between JoJo Siwa and the food subscription box industrial complex.
Apparently, Siwa offers a quarterly merch box to her fans, aka the Siwanators. The latest box’s theme is: BAKING WITH JOJO (must be screamed). For all your bake-heads out there, JoJo’s got the goods you need, like a silicone cupcake pan, an apron, and cupcake wrappers. Apparently, BAKING WITH JOJO means making cupcakes and only cupcakes. Now, I’m all about the quarterly subscription boxes, but I definitely associate them with bougie snacks like cured meats, smoked fish, and orange wines. (I once got my dad a gadget-based box which, unbeknownst to me, came with a to-go bidet; he did not appreciate.) I guess the Siwanator hive is zealous enough for the seasonal delivery model!
Are we influenced? It’s 9 a.m. and I need to go take a nap after watching all this JoJo content. No shade to JoJo; I am a 31-year-old childless woman, clearly not her audience. Not influenced, and it would be weird if I were.
More vloggers! Here’s Jenn Im. Im is a beauty YouTuber who also runs a fashion line called Eggie and is generally stylish/good-looking online. Jenn is currently pregnant (she and her husband announced in a post on April 2), which leads me, I believe, to the content I’d like to discuss with you today: ice cream cake. Not even ice cream cake for someone’s birthday, just ice cream cake for the sake of ice cream cake. “No, it wasn’t anyone’s birthday,” Im writes in the caption. “I was just craving ice cream cake.”
Genius. Brilliant. Inspired.
Some recent research suggests pregnancy cravings are more psychological than biochemical. Not that that makes them any less real, but that they exist in certain social/cultural contexts. For example: I crave chocolate whenever I’m on my period. But is that a hormonal response, or simply my subconscious taking advantage of the one day per month we pause food-shame and allow women to eat chocolate? The same might go for pregnancy: the concept of pregnancy cravings allows women the rare opportunity to give in in a socially acceptable way. As someone who has no intention of being pregnant, I would love the social/psychological freedom to randomly eat ice cream cake sans shame! So let’s make like Jenn Im and eat ice cream cake in non-birthday settings, but take that one step further and eat ice cream cake in non-pregnancy settings, too.
Are we influenced? Putting Baskin-Robbins on speed dial as we speak.
An unfortunate byproduct of the pandemic is having to forego meals that simply don’t translate to takeout. For me, that’s included restaurant-cooked pasta dishes, Big Soups, and Korean barbecue. It’s been particularly agonizing living a stone’s throw from Koreatown, Los Angeles, where seemingly every block is dotted with a dozen stellar restaurants. Jimmy Fallon, a man to whom I generally pay very little attention, reminded me this week of a beautiful thing in post-vaccination life: going out to Korean barbecue.
The Tonight Show host recently paid a visit to Jongro BBQ in Manhattan, and the meal was apparently moving enough to post to the grid. Upon seeing these photos, I gasped slightly and felt a warm rush come over me: I can go out for Korean barbecue again. It’s all happening.
Are we influenced? Making my reservations now. Dammit, Jimmy.