At no point in time has geekdom ever been as highly regarded or impacted mainstream culture in so many ways as it does in the present. Star Wars gear lines store shelves, even when movies aren’t being released, 8-bit music is actually being mixed into mainstream dance songs, and anime culture has made a serious impact on just about everything. What people don’t realize is that geek culture has even influenced food – and the influence is stronger than you would probably ever imagine.
Themed Food Is Geek Food
Without a doubt, one of the most obvious ways that geek culture has impacted food culture is through the promotion of themed snacks and drinks. Sites like The Drunken Moogle have been inventing drinks named after video game characters, novel heroines, and even TV series in-jokes for years. Harry Potter’s Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Jellybeans actually became a real-life product enjoyed by kids.
Of course, it’s not only actual fansites showing luxury geek cocktails or jellybeans sold due to high fan demand that fits into the realm of geek food. Nerd favorites such as Star Wars and Star Trek have both rolled out with cookbooks featuring recipes like “Wookiee Cookies,” “Han-Burgers” and “Saurian Brandy.” In other words, it’s much easier to find fandom-friendly treats than it used to be.
The Japanime Explosion
Sometime around 2004 or so, anime’s popularity exploded with younger audiences. This led to just about everyone who was in high school or college getting curious about Japanese culture. Sushi, matcha, bento boxes, and even Ramen noodles became major cultural statements. Partly because of geekdom, both Japanese and Korean food imports have major markets throughout the United States.
Believe it or not, the explosion of Japanese cuisine’s popularity often is cited as one of the driving factors behind the new focus on highly exotic gourmet restaurants. After all, both Korean and Japanese food were, at one point, viewed as exotic by mainstream people. It was geek culture that was first fixated on exoticism, and that quickly spread to the mainstream. Nowadays, sushi restaurants and noodle shops are almost as common as pizza places.
Geeking Out Over Food
Then, there’s the actual geek version of obsession to consider. Old school geeks were known for their ability to obsess over things, “hack” new improvements, and generally just make their own unique goods. If you take a look at the way the new generation of food enthusiasts behave, it’s safe to say they’re geeking out too.
Since the mid-2000’s, being a foodie has become de rigeur. Being able to talk about how gourmet food is made, or talk about the differences in artisan beer brands is now as popular as it ever will be. New foodies are now making their own kitchen equipment, brewing their own beer, or even growing their own heirloom vegetables every day.
Le Geek, C’est Chic! Geek culture is here to stay, and it will continue to affect the way we enjoy food. This isn’t a bad thing in the least bit, either. After all, it was geek culture that gave us the technology and sci-fi flicks that we know and love today.