Pizza.

Ice cream.

These two food items each hold a special place in the culinary ecology of contemporary Europe and North America (and beyond). Via colonialism and now globalization, these savoury and sweet treats have projected grease-dripping tendrils to all corners of the world, and via capitalism, they have become mass-produced consumer products.

The contemporary ice cream cone piles high with scoops of outlandish flavours and colours, daring the hapless eater to douse their pallets in ever new variations on the basic themes of chocolate, candy, fruit.

The run-of-the-mill pizza slices of today likewise brim with a profusion of prodigious toppings, tying consumption to national identity (e.g. “Canadian” pizza) or the aestheticization of heavy meat-eating (Boston Pizza’s “Meateor”). In short, our culinary culture reproduces both pizza and ice cream as manifest excess.

Yet for all their indulgence, both pizza and ice cream are undeniably fun to eat. Pizza is an easy save for any meeting or event, and ice cream is a simple remedy for the summer heat. Flavour variety reinforces the mass veneration of these celebrated dishes, as does simplicity of production and consumption (no cutlery required!).

Yet the widespread appeal of these foods, coupled with their insidious expansion under consumer culture, has produced a new, altogether unappealing abomination: Konz Pizza: pizza…in a cone.

On May 18, 2018, the University of Alberta Students’ Union told The Gateway what two of the Students’ Union Building’s new food court vendors would be. Replacing Taco Bell and L’Express are Hula Poke and Konz Pizza. The concept of Konz is to combine some properties of pizza and ice cream cones for a novel culinary experience. In this Frankenstein confection, the salty, savoury flavor and rough, oily texture of pizza remain, only now, it’s … well, yeah, it’s in a cone. The concept is neatly explained in the company’s own logo, in case you didn’t catch on that “Konz” is a respelling of “cones” and the absurd meatball-cone monstrosity pictured is, well, some sort of cone-shaped pizza confection.

In his 1987 article The Nature of Horror, philosopher of art Noël Carroll suggests the monsters of the horror genre are typically “interstitial.” These creatures embody contradictory properties, transgressing the boundaries of culturally established categories. Vampires and zombies, for instance, transgress the category boundaries of the living and the dead. Mermaids (the scary ones from folktales – Harry Potter, not The Little Mermaid) squish together markers of land and sea creatures. As walking category errors, horror monsters elicit the spectator’s fear and disgust – they know in their guts the chimerical existence of such creatures is wrong.

Konz Pizza, I propose, is a horror monster in Carroll’s sense. The cone-pizza-creature soon to occupy SUB transgresses culturally permissible boundaries of food categories, splicing contradictory qualities to produce something altogether alien – and undeniably sinister.

Carroll concludes his article by proposing that the horror genre has proliferated so rapidly today because we live in a “postmodern time,” where the forces of modernity have reached their zenith and our central values are now in flux. Such a chaotic and indeed, categorically transgressive time demands fictions to fit its zeitgeist (or rather, lack thereof). As an unhappy union between two culinary hallmarks of consumerist excess, Konz Pizza likewise manifests the postmodern condition – one that is absurd, contradictory, and ultimately terrifying in its mismatching of normative conceptions.

As students flock back to SUB in September, let them ponder the arena of cultural dynamism the food court has become – and for their own well-being, let them beware the cone.

Pizza.

Be wary.

Ice cream.

Be watchful.

Ice cream in a slice?

No.

Pizza…in a cone.

Image courtesy of Jonah Dunch
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