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!
Reader, I have feelings about Leah Remini’s birthday cake. Scroll to the second photo in the post above and behold, a three-tier dessert topped with pink flowers with four words plastered to its rounded sides in presumably edible script: EAT THE FUCKING CAKE! Leah’s project here is clear: Everyone’s so captive to the pursuit of thinness these days (restriction, marketable perfection), we’re missing out on the good stuff of life. Just eat the fucking cake.
Leah Remini is an actor famous for mostly two things: acting alongside Kevin James and leaving/condemning the Church of Scientology. On both accounts, Leah Remini knows darkness. And more to the point, she knows the joy of freeing herself from a repressive institution. She knows the joy of just eating the fucking cake.
Eating the fucking cake is a good thing, literally and metaphorically. But there’s also something about this demand to shirk diet culture that inadvertently fortifies the institution of diet culture. On the podcast Poog, comedians Jacqueline Novak and Kate Berlant talk about how wearing Converse with your wedding dress (as a “fuck you” to, say, traditional femininity) merely calls attention to heels; the in-your-face anti-heel just has everyone thinking about heels. I’m feeling that way about Leah Remini’s birthday cake. The condemnation of anti-dessert culture somehow reminds me that I “should” feel bad about eating dessert. Am I reading too much into Leah Remini’s birthday cake? Perhaps. But what else is writing on the internet for?
Are we influenced? Were I at Leah Remini’s 50th birthday party last weekend, I would’ve eaten the fucking cake.
Did you know the Queen of Christmas has gotten into the cookie biz? Last December, Mariah Carey launched Mariah’s Cookies, which sells—you guessed it!—cookies. It’s a ghost-kitchen-only venture of Virtual Dining Concepts, the company responsible for Paul D’s Italian Subs and Foodgod Truffle fries. Sensing a theme?
Of course, famous people slapping their faces (or, in this case, Bratz Dolls-esque versions of their faces) on brands is nothing new. That’s especially true with alcohol, where actors are either “creative directors” or part-owners: there’s George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ Bon & Viv spiked seltzer, Cameron Diaz’s Avaline wine (which she recruited comedian Benito Skinner to help promote). Getting a big named attached to your booze line is smart because, honestly—sorry, alcohol snobs—most people can’t tell the difference between different kinds of tequilas, or rosés, or bourbons. If I’m standing in the whiskey aisle and I recognize a label because the MMA fighter I follow on Instagram has posted that label, I’m probably going to at least consider buying it.
You know what literally everyone has strong opinions on, though? Cookies. Some people like ’em chewy, others like a good snap, some like a sugar overload, and others are boring. We don’t need a celebrity’s face to tell us what cookies we like. All the love in the world to Mariah, though. God, I hope the Lambs don’t come for me.
Are we influenced? I went to place an order of Mariah’s Cookies for delivery (there’s no pickup option), and a package of six (6) cookies totaled to $22.13. Hard pass.
An unexpected development of the 2020s is Courteney Cox being, officially, Fun On Instagram. Perhaps you learned this a couple months ago, as I did, when the Friends star went viral for displaying her IRL Monica Geller-ness: a meticulously neat pantry, a thoroughly labeled spice drawer, perfect little spaces for each of her cooking utensils.
It’s a relief to learn that she isn’t letting that impressive kitchen setup go unused. This month, the Birmingham native made what she dubbed an Alabama Roll (as in, a Deep South version of a California Roll): cheese, avocado, fritos, mustard, and mayo, wrapped in a slice or two of deli turkey. Commenteth Jennifer Aniston: “I want one now!!!” Same, Jen.
I appreciate the down-home-ness of this whole thing, but Courtney, I do have to ask: did you really have avocado in Alabama in the 1960s? I nitpick. Enjoy your Alabama Roll, Court.
Are we influenced? [takes an eight-second drag of a cigarette] I’ve been wrapping cheese and mustard in sliced turkey as a late-afternoon snack for years, kid. YEARS.