Our friends at First We Feast have pulled together an "Ultimate Mall-Food Survival Guide" that has us itching to go shopping. We could explain why it's so awesome, but we think they do a better job of explaining it themselves:
The week of last-minute holiday shopping hell has arrived, and like every other idiot in America, you've left yourself with no choice but to brave the mall. Getting everything shipped from Amazon is too risky at this point, and there's no other place where you can find something for a five-year-old and and an 85-year-old while also getting a water massage.
Needless to say, this will not be fun. But there is one silver lining: The opportunity to shamelessly eat the classic mall foods that you avoid the rest of the year.
Of course, there may be a Cheesecake Factory or Chili's on the grounds where you can get one of the best chain restaurant dishes in America, but this is a different mission entirely. We're talking about quick bites you can grab inside the food court, or in between the GameStop and the Gilly Hicks. We're talking about stress-eating on the move. We're talking Dippin' Dots chased with a gang of soda, and nostalgic snacks that will take you to a better place mentally, if not physically.
You know what we're saying? Of course you do. Here are the best mall-food classics of all time.
Original Dots At Dippin' Dots
<strong>What it is:</strong> Cryogenic encapsulated ice cream, a.k.a. tiny balls of frozen ice-cream magic. <strong> Why it's a mall classic: </strong>Because your mom didn’t let you have ice cream when you were a kid at the mall, but now that you are big enough to buy your own toys at the Brookstone store, you’re going to make it rain Dippin’ Dots forever. These multi-hued orbs, popular at classy places like malls and theme parks, are like space-age ice cream, and they are damn fun to eat. We suggest stopping at Williams-Sonoma to pick up your Le Creuset cast-iron French oven, dropping by Eddie Bauer for a new pair of casual slacks, and then showering yourself with ice-cream balls in flavors like mint chocolate and moose tracks. <strong>Also see:</strong> <a href="http://firstwefeast.com/eat/year-in-pictures-daniel-kriegers-15-best-food-photos-of-2012/">Daniel Krieger's 15 Best Food Photos of 2012</a> <em>Photo by Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/epw/2700694733/sizes/o/in/photostream/">Pen Waggener</a>.</em>
Cheese Stick On A Stick At Hot Dog On A Stick
<strong>What it is: </strong>American cheese (or jack cheese with jalapenos) battered, fried, and served on a stick <strong>Why it's a mall classic: </strong>This Southern California beachside stand opened its doors in 1946 and now sells its signature turkey dogs and cheese-on-stick creations inside malls across the country. Not to be confused with corn dogs, the HDS occupies its own unique terrain in the Hall of Fame of Ridiculous American Junk Foods, and you can count on it being served by a woman in an insanely unflattering, clown-like uniform. Pair the batter-cloaked snack with a tart, freshly squeezed cherry lemonade and try to think of a time when eating a food attached to a stick wasn’t completely awesome. That's right, you can't. <strong>Also see:</strong> <a href="http://firstwefeast.com/drink/the-best-wine-references-in-music-history-with-pairings-for-each-song/">The Best Wine References in Music History, with Pairings for Each Song</a>
Slices And Garlic Knots At Sbarro
<strong>What it is: </strong>The mall’s closest offering to a New York slice joint. Massive slices range from plain to Supreme (pepperoni, Italian sausage, fresh peppers, mushrooms, onions), and sides include stacks on stacks of twisted garlic knots gleaming under a torrent of oil, parsley, and salt. <strong>Why it's a mall classic: </strong>The Sbarro slice, a staple of food courts for more than 40 years, is possibly the most iconic mall-food option besides plates of grimy, Day-glo Americanized Chinese food. Sure, you could probably find an Uno's or California Pizza Kitchen in the near vicinity, but why? Pulling up a chair (if it’s not bolted to the ground) and feasting on stringy cheese topped pies and garlic knots at Sbarro is a trip down memory lane, and it's much cheaper to boot. <strong>Also see: </strong><a href="http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-20-best-new-nyc-restaurants-of-2012/">The 20 Best New Nyc Restaurants Of 2012</a> <em>Photo by Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepizzareview/3556741059/sizes/l/in/photostream/">The Pizza Review</a>.</em>
Free Samples Of Orange Chicken At Panda Express
<strong>What it is: </strong>Boneless chicken covered in a sweet and mildly spicy orange glaze <strong>Why it's a mall classic:</strong> Samples of the glazed chicken bites, served conveniently on a toothpick, are nearly impossible to pass up. It’s not your fault that you wandered into the food court and straight into the line of fire. Don't resist. You could get a whole styrofoam plate filled with the stuff, along with fried rice and a egg roll. Or you could just keep coming back wearing a different hat from Lids until you've had your fill of freebies. <strong>Also see: </strong><a href="http://firstwefeast.com/drink/the-best-craft-beer-from-every-state/">The Best Brew From Each Of The 50 States</a> <em>Photo by Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/candyb/4655017334/">CandyTX</a>.</em>
Milkshakes At Johnny Rockets
<strong>What it is: </strong>Hand-dipped American diner–style milkshakes <strong>Why it's a mall classic: </strong>Who doesn’t order a milkshake at the dining institution/love child wrought from the loins of Johnny Appleseed and an Oldsmobile Rocket 88? At this mallified temple of faux Americana, you can also dial up some Beach Boys on the jukebox and go to town on a silky strawberry shake before heading across the threshold to the Gap. If it's burgers and fries you're after, the smarter move is to hop in the whip and beeline for the nearest Five Guys. But for a mid-shop shake break, Johnny Rockets does the trick. Also see: <a href="http://firstwefeast.com/eat/cheat-sheet-food-and-drink-deals-for-every-night-of-the-week-in-manhattan/">Food And Drink Deals For Every Night Of The Week In Manhattan</a>
Classic Cinnabon Bun At Cinnabon
<strong>What it is: </strong>A behemoth pastry of warm dough filled with Makara® cinnamon and topped with cream cheese frosting <strong>Why it's a mall classic: </strong>If you have ever been to a mall or an airport in your life, the scent of sweet, sugary decadence wafting from Cinnabon has stopped you in your tracks and made you think, I need to get fat to this RIGHT NOW! It’s a dangerous player when it comes to mall snackery; you will leave with messy hands, a sugar rush that could leave you crashing on a massage chair an hour later, and a deep sense of shame. But fuck it, man—it's the holidays! <strong>Also see:</strong> <a href="http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-10-greatest-food-rap-mcs-of-all-time/">The 10 Greatest Food-rap Mcs Of All Time</a> <em>Photo by Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/uggboy/7999603840/sizes/c/in/photostream/">uggboy</a>.</em>
Check out the rest of First We Feast's "Ultimate Mall-food Survival Guide" <a href="http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-ultimate-mall-food-survival-guide/s/original-dots-at-dippin-dots/">here</a>.
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