It really was an accident. Here's how it all began.
A group of FOODBEAST writers, myself included, had the opportunity earlier this year to check out the latest developments from Carnival Cruise Lines. This gave us the opportunity to make multiple, albeit short, international day-trips in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. After spending four days mostly on the ship consuming our own weight in food, we decided that we were going to explore the Honduran island of Roatán on our own.
Roatán is an island economically bound to tourism related to its temperate Caribbean weather and the second largest barrier reef in the world. But similar to its mainland counterpart, the island and its people are extremely poor. So, similar to our other stops in Mexico and Central America, we were bombarded by vendors mostly related to excursions and activities. We avoided the zip lining, snorkeling and scuba diving in a pursuit to find cuisine and culture that we had never experienced before. After all, before this trip we didn't know this island existed - so who knew when we would actually be back, if ever.
It was during our first meal at a literal shack, away from the harbor bars and restaurants, lacking signage and electricity, that we ran into Marcus. Boasting a big smile and a white polo that claimed he was an 'independent tour guide,' he started giving us unprompted recommendations of what to see on the island. Although the initial subtlety of selling himself was there, his casual and welcoming nature convinced us to have him lead our journey. It would be this same trusting nature that would get us into more than we bargained for.
Like most islands or coastal cities, the menu and locals bragged of the seafood. Without hesitating we ordered lobster, shrimp, island fried chicken. But the real reason we were there screamed at us from a petite 1990s whiteboard taped to a pillar inside this restaurant: Especial Iguana $13.
To put the price of 13 American Dollars into context, the Iguana special was pricey considering the fact that 5 American dollars could buy you a lifetime supply of hot sauce or a full round of beers. But then Marcus described the processes involved with getting that Iguana to our plate, and it's pretty much the opposite of farm-to-table.
Step 1, enter the jungle at your own risk. Step 2, bring a dog to help you track down an Iguana and run it up a tree. Step 3, climb the tree and snatch the Iguana without getting bit. Step 4, bring your crated Iguana by multiple restaurants to see who's buying. Step 5, begin a painstaking and arduous process of boiling the Iguana enough to be able to try and remove chunks of the thick skin off of the animal (after some sort of death/slaughter). Step 6, use your skills to make the meat delicious. Step 7, serve with rice and plantains.
Iguana, fish-like bones and all, sitting on a plate of rice and plantains
And that's when during the last bites of our meal, Marcus explained how the act of catching and selling Iguanas for food or otherwise is illegal in the country. "Here Iguana is an endangered species."
Wait what?! If you watch the video above, you can see our candid reaction to the statement we never saw coming. Further research from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the international organization that publishes the Red List of of Threatened Species, pointed to eating the Roatán Spiny-tailed Iguana or Ctenosaura oedirhina that is endangered but not critically endangered or extinct in the wild. So there's that.
It was nuts, so a few days later we tested a slightly different variant, just wanted to see if it was cheesy buns that were getting our audience foaming at the mouth. Same creator, @tymbussanich, put together an entire bun made of cheese and tater tots. That picture went on to reach 2.7 million people initiating over 180,000 Likes, Comments and Shares:
Following the explosive growth of that second post relative to the standard reach of our other images running through the Facebook page, we decided to give it some time before the next test.
Nearly a month later on December 7th, we put one more picture up to make sure Facebook's algorithm wasn't just generously giving eyeballs to those couple posts. We ran a picture from another Foodbeast reader, @alexmensi, arguably the most beautiful one yet:
The above picture was the definitive proof we needed that people were more drawn to mac and cheese buns than any other food concoction we'd covered in the past two months. @Alexmensi's glorious picture was immediately served to over 2.2 million eyeballs, garnering over 103,000 Likes, Comments and Shares.
Here are the stats straight from our Facebook Insights:
After sharing the above findings with my team and sifting through the hundreds of inquiries that asked "Where can we get these buns?" and "How do I make them at home?" we found a location in Torrance, CA that just started serving them.
That's when our team of Marc, Peter and Geoff made the trek out to Muncheese Burger in Torrance to meet the Drake-look-a-like head chef Corey Davidson. Corey was cool enough to give us the lowdown on how to make the bun for yourself.
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We're all about boozin' and enjoying the Halloween festivities, but when it comes down to decorating or creating anything of actual Halloween-related ambiance, we need simple ideas. Real simple ideas.
That's why we've put together these three uber cute, incredibly simple halloween food ideas you can make regardless of your skill level, and all of them make it seem like you're a regular Pinterest showgirl:
Just peel your tangerine and stick a sour candy straw in as the stem!
Peel banana, cut them in half for a flat base, then stick chocolate chips of varying sizes to make a ghost face
Slice a pumpkin of whatever size you want your cooler to be, gut it, pour in ice and...
How do you sip from your straw? Straight on? Barely touching?
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"Come to (insert restaurant here) and play (insert prize-eligible game with catchy name here). One-in-four wins a prize!"
"One-in-four wins" is a claim that we often disregard as we peel the little sticker off the box and redeem it for our free small Coke. However, some of us call bullshit and say, "There's no way that's accurate."
We recently got a news release from Jack in the Box about a new Munchie Meal called the "Chick-n-Tater Melt" and a new "peel-and-win" game called Jack's Munchie Peel where they say they're giving away over $1,000,000 in food and prizes. We immediately questioned the one-in-four claim from the contest and wanted to find a way to test the validity of it.
Jack in the Box's latest addition to the Munchie Meal lineup, a Chick-n-Tater Melt
So, we channeled our inner statisticians and decided we should buy 150 of Jack's Munchie Meals, peel off the stickers, and keep track of all the winners and losers to see if the results came out to the 25 percent stat Jack brags about. We felt 150 was a large enough sample size to get a pretty accurate reading (they accidentally gave us four extra, so we ended up using 154).
Elie spent our entire monthly editorial budget buying 150+ Munchie Meals for this projectWe rolled up to a couple different Jack in the Box locations, ordered 75 Munchie Meals at each location, confirmed with the workers that we weren't high and came back to Foodbeast Headquarters with a totally irresponsible amount of Jack in the Box.
So we began peeling off the stickers. All 154 Munchie Meal boxes. For two hours.
We ended up winning 48 times out of the 154 game pieces we peeled off, for a 31.2 percent rate. Which is actually well above the arbitrary 25 percent chance.
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