Potato Parties Take off in Japan, South Korea

PHOTO: Were going to need a napkin or 64.

Flickr/Scott Ableman

Having a burger and fries at lunch is merely eating. To elevate it to dining, one must add ritual, one must imbue the act with meaning. One must, for example, order as many fries as possible, scatter them across a tabletop, take pictures of the resulting mess and then upload these online for all to see. That, friends, is dining.

And that's exactly what some young people in Japan are doing, much to the dismay of fast-food restaurant employees. Back in October, Kotaku reported on "potato parties" -- the act of ordering and eating as many (gloriously inexpensive) packets of McDonald's fries as possible, and sharing images of the event across personal blogs and social media. The trend has drawn criticism for inconveniencing McDonald's employees and other guests dining at the restaurant, as well as for potentially wasting food.

The fad has since spread to South Korea, where photos of potato parties are also going viral -- and drawing criticism. One group of teens in South Korea, for example, ordered $250 USD worth of fries, prompting a McDonald's employee to kick them out of the restaurant, telling them to "[s]top causing trouble, you brats!"

As Asian news site RocketNews24 explains, these binge-fests won't only turn children's hearts into hardened little globules of saturated fat (I say this without judgment -- my own internal organs resemble nothing more than a post-apocalyptic combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell), they also keep other customers from enjoying the fried carbs they so richly deserve. "Not only do these hefty fry orders cause every other customer's food to be delayed," the site writes, "the rambunctious teenagers smugly eating their fries disturb the other customers eating at the restaurant. In Japan alone there have been complaints to the McDonald's corporate office ranging from annoyance to claims of unsanitary conditions as a result of these gatherings, as well as numerous pleas for the french fry discounts to stop."

Over here in the U.S., we have, of course, our own ways of wasting food via social media. The Chipotle Quesarito -- a mythical beast of a food that consists of a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla -- seems to exist mostly in our hearts (where it will remain, congealing, forever) and on social media, where a friend's co-worker's cousin's ex-girlfriend's mechanic totally Instagrammed one and then posted a Blingee of it on its Facebook fan page. The cheesy monstrosity is an off-menu item, and ordering one, as Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told BuzzFeed, will most likely garner you a blank stare. "We don't do stunt menu items," he said. "We're not Taco Bell. We make food with the ingredients that we can."

Jealous.

Of course, you can take a more dated, high-brow approach to food fads and simply fill your Pinterest board with cupcakes, macarons or anything (including cupcakes and macarons) made of bacon. And then put it all on a mini slider.

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