"Weird Al" Yankovic is burning up the charts with his latest album, "Mandatory Fun." As all of his other records do, this title contains multiple parody versions of popular tunes; one of the first singles is "Foil," which talks about (among other things) one of Yankovic's favorite topics: food.
However, this particular tune has a novel twist: The song (a sendup of Lorde's hit "Royals") talks about foodborne pathogens. After mentioning how he never finishes his meal at restaurants, Yankovic confides he finds the take-home packaging the server gives him lacking:
"But then I deal with fungal rot, bacterial formation
Microbes, enzymes, mould and oxidation
I don't care, I've got a secret trick up my sleeve"
Then, he reveals his secret to keeping his leftover food free from harmful contaminants is, you might have guessed, aluminum foil:
Fans of Yankovic's mirthful music most likely are well aware the topic of food is a well the songster has dipped into time and time again. One of his first songs was "My Bologna," a parody of the 1980s favorite "My Sharona" originally performed by The Knack.
Popular food brands also have been hit by Yankovic's lyrical madness, such as "Spam," a tonal tribute to Hormel's canned meat set to the tune of R.E.M.'s song "Stand." Apparently Yankovic doesn't let his 20-year status as a strict vegan prevent him from singing about animal products.
Yankovic arguably is serving up an important message along with the amusement by educating listeners about the importance of handling food properly to prevent foodborne illness. While we can bemoan the song's status as a solitary sonic lesson on pathogens, we can at least listen to other songs that mention other parts of the food industry.
The Presidents of the United States of America, who had a couple of appearances on the charts in the 1990s, sang the praises of fruit both fresh and canned in "Peaches." The upbeat ditty, sung by a man with a fondness for the fruit bordering on obsession, talks about peaches in a can, which "were put there by a man in a factory downtown." While the mention is a brief and simplistic overview of food processing, it does constitute a rare, well-deserved tip of the hat to the food packaging industry.
One of the most downloaded singles from rapper/DJ Z Trip is "Breakfast Club." The song (which contains some salty language and is therefore not suitable for sharing here) acknowledges the strong connection felt by children growing up in the 1970s and 1980s between watching Saturday morning cartoon shows and eating kids cereals such as General Mills' Count Chocula and Post's Fruity Pebbles.
Longstanding Texas rockers ZZ Top sing of their fondness for frozen convenience meals with the song "TV Dinners." However, the folks at the American Frozen Food Institute likely would argue frozen food aisles are packed with delicious, high-quality options, and not the dismal, disgusting eats the song's lyrics portrays:
"Twenty year old turkey in a thirty year old tin
I can't wait until tomorrow, and thaw one out again"
There are scores of songs about baking (dating back to the children's favorite "Muffin Man" and beyond), alcoholic beverages (UB40s cover of "Red, Red Wine" for example), snacks (NRBQ's "RC Cola and a Moon Pie), and more. Sadly, after scouring the internet, our editors found in terms of building awareness about preventing foodborne illness, "Weird Al" Yankovic stands alone.
Do you have any favorite songs about foods, food packaging, or food brands? Can you think of any rare tunes mentioning foodborne pathogens or illness? Please let us know by leaving your suggestions in the comments, or drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .