As American as a Heart Attack


Title: Bite of Seattle

As yes, the Bite of Seattle. A local institution. It’s been going on for 35 years and every year gets just a little bit bigger, marching along in time with Americans’ waistline.

In the old days, when I worked a 4×10 schedule, I used to go Friday afternoon. It was, for obvious reasons, pretty dead. All of the booths were there, and many times people from the booths would be calling me over for a sample.

Now that I’m on a working man 5×8 shift, I no longer have that luxury. I went Sunday afternoon sometime between 1:00 and 3:00. It was semi sunny and somewhere around 70 degrees; in other words the perfect kind of day for the average Seattlelite to be out and attending something like the Bite.  Accordingly, there were many 10’s of thousands of people there. I am not a big man, but there were many places where I could barely squeeze through. There were a couple of choke points where once I entered it, I was pretty much swept along by the sea of people thronging through it.

Foods of the world were well represented here. There was Greek, Filipino, Swedish, Russian, Peruvian, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Afghan food, among others that I cannot remember. There was not one but two corn dogs of the world booths. Are they competitors? Did they actually get together beforehand and split the world up, like Spain and Portugal did in 1494 with the Treaty of Tordesillas?

Seattle has a very well deserved reputation for whiteness. The reality becomes slightly more complex when you leave Seattle proper and venture into the ‘burbs. For instance, the neighborhood that I grew up in, White Center, according to city data, is 33% White, 23% Hispanic, 20% Asian, and 13% Black. I bought my first house in Tukwila, which is 37% White, 20% Black, 17% Asian, and 15% Hispanic.

When something like the Bite comes along, everyone comes into to the city to enjoy it. Therefore, unlike many other events in Seattle, you truly do see a wide variety of people, be it ethnicity, religion, or size (OK, large was disproportionately represented here). I heard a wide variety of languages spoken.

And guess what? No problems! Everyone loves eating cheap food, listening to music, and hanging with friends and family on a warm summer day. If there is anything that Americans can get behind, I imagine that it’s gluttony. This was signified by one guy, standing in line, just finishing off his giant corn dog before ordering his next entree.  Way to go! These colors won’t run!

And there was certainly cheap food to be had expressly designed to shorten your lifespan. I went on a search for the least possible healthy food possible. There was the perennial contender of elephant ears. Apparently the fad of deep frying things is still going strong (deep fried twinkies, oreo’s, and PB&J’s). There was the frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate. That was a pretty strong contender for a while. However, I do believe that the winner, hands down, scoring a set of perfect 10’s from the judges, was the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger. Yes it was a cheeseburger, covered in bacon, with two Krispy Kreme donuts instead of buns. America, we’re gonna need more Obamacare.

There were a couple of random oddities:

First of all, it was Groupon Bite of Seattle. I honestly didn’t know that Groupon was still a viable company. Granted, as a relatively light consumer, I’m not exactly their target audience. Have they made money yet? I just did a quick check and it appears the answer is no, they have not made money yet (at least no P/E ratio, which is a pretty good clue). Five years ago, their stock price was 28, now it’s around 3.5. It does have a $2 billion market cap, so that is something.

There wasn’t any political activity going on. I found that surprising since there is a primary happening in a couple of weeks. Maybe it’s not allowed. This was a free public event, so I’m not sure if they could actually stop it even if they wanted to. The closest thing that I saw was a guy holding a hand scrawled cardboard sign. Fully expecting it to be some variety of work-for-food kind of sign, I was taken aback when it just said “Weed is Jesus”. He just stood there holding it in one hand, and giving out the peace sign in the other. He did not want money. He apparently was just passing on the message that the Lord Our Savior is cannabis. Fair enough. Sounds as reasonable as any other dogma.

Similarly, I did not see a single busker. I saw several on the outskirts, but within the Bite proper, not a single one. Granted there were several concert stages going on, but they were all pretty far apart. I would have thought that many other musicians could have set up their didgeridoo and started playing. Were they explicitly forbidden? Were there secret busker police waiting to pounce upon the hipster old-timey quartet? I found it interesting, especially since I really didn’t see much police presence, generally speaking. Consider what just happened in Nice, I was kind of expecting to see some heightened security. It might have been there, but if so, it was fairly well hidden.

All in all, everyone, including myself, seemed to have a good time. I’m not a big eater, but I did partake of an Elk smokey cheese hotdog.  It was OK. It did not taste like chicken.


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