The Internet can be both incredibly helpful and affirming: a vast repository of all the world's knowledge; a great town hall where minds can meet across cultures and countries and share their ideas and insights; a truly global community. But anyone who has spent more than an hour online knows that it can also be a seedy freak show and a sometimes disturbing glimpse into how truly pathetic so many of us humans really are.
Like every other aspect of the web, online cooking videos land all over that spectrum. Now, any other day I might choose to point you to the best that are available, but because it’s Monday morning, I’m in the mood for a train wreck. So, let me present to you the worst cooking videos on the Internet as judged by a panel of one expert (me). Oh, sure, there may be grosser or more depraved ones out there, but as far as I'm concerned, these three are unmatched in terms of reducing the human condition to its most piteous.
3. Steven Reed's Chili Cheese Dip
Apparently, somebody at Weber State University thought that the student body there could benefit from a how-to series on cooking simple, economical meals. That doesn’t seem like a bad idea until you see the execution. This is "cooking" at its most basic: two things are (barely) mixed together and then heated. But come on, a jar of processed cheese and a can of chili?
I don't know what worries me more, that a person in a decision-making position at Weber State thought that their students could use instructions on opening cans and then microwaving the contents, or that those students might actually need those instructions.
Or maybe the fact that the laconic, shuffling host is a convicted sex offender.
2. Popcorn Cereal
This one is slightly less sad than Reed's video, if only because this guy actually manages to successfully cook popcorn and he doesn't even need a microwave to do it. That's not much of an achievement, though, and in the end this is still a video by a dude who thinks that pouring tap water into a bowl of popcorn counts as some kind of recipe.
1. Hot Dogs and Peaches
Ugh. This one is a straight-up nightmare. Not a scary monster chasing you through endless hallways sort of nightmare, but the kind where unpleasant and dangerous things are happening and nothing makes sense. Random fires break out. There's a toilet in the kitchen. A mumbling man decides that hot dogs blended with peaches would make a good drink.
I hold out hope that some aspects of this video are a joke (seriously, hot dogs and peaches?), But even if the vlogger is pulling our leg a little bit, that doesn't change the fact that this fetid hellhole is his kitchen. Piles of garbage on the floor, the stove and sink filled with filthy dishes and random appliances, that toilet; whether or not the “cooking” is a prank, the (miserable, squalid) joke is still on him.
So, those are my nominees for the worst cooking on the web. But if there is one golden rule about awful things on the Internet, it is that there is always more, and it is always worse. Feel free to share your own nominees, barring any pornographic cooking videos, which almost certainly exist, but which I’d very much like to continue being ignorant of.