12 Regular Foods We Ate in 2021

Ordinary things we ate and/or drank this year

Collage: berkshire sausages, apples with peanut butter, salmon and egg on toast, and Eggo waffles.
Photos (clockwise from top-left): Nicole Dalessandro, Tarpley Hitt, Olivia Craighead, Sarah Hagi
Jenny G. Zhang and Gawker Staff
Year in Consumption
Regular Food Reviews

What constitutes a year? Technically, just an uninterrupted series of meals, anywhere between 365 to 1,095-plus, depending on how you choose to receive your caloric intake. In 2021, we ate many regular ones — neither particularly remarkable nor particularly atrocious, but probably pretty ordinary on average. Here are a dozen of them without any significance ascribed to them whatsoever:

Pizza bagel thins

Jenny G. Zhang

This is one of those at-home concoctions that is so forgettable and ultimately kind of disgusting, it took me a minute to recognize this image when scrolling through a year’s worth of photos looking for a dish that adequately represents my 2021. I present: flavorless, flaccid bagel thins from Aldi’s slathered in marinara sauce left over from some pizza order and melted cheddar cheese that disagrees with my stomach but not as much as mozzarella does. Not the worst workday lunch I’ve ever had, but somewhere close to it. 2/5 stars. — Jenny G. Zhang, staff writer

Smoked salmon and poached egg on toast

Olivia Craighead

I do not take a lot of pictures of meals, but for some reason I decided to snap a pic of this meal from March 2. Based on the 1 p.m. time stamp, I assume this was some kind of harried attempt at lunch. I don’t remember exactly what it tasted like, but it looks like something I would enjoy. What I do know is that I had to either toast that bread on a pan or stick my arm directly into my oven to broil it (I do not own a toaster). Neither of those modes of preparation is particularly good or safe for toasting bread, which will be noted in this meal’s final score. I like that I added a little black pepper, and I wonder if I added anything else — a little garlic powder or red pepper flake would have been good on this. Whatever the case, I am sure that this meal sated my appetite, and that is really all we can ask of our regular meals. 4/5 stars. — Olivia Craighead, staff writer

Two hot dogs, one bun

Tammie Teclemariam

I usually go for jumbo franks, but I was high and depressed at Key Foods when these slim-fit Nathan’s caught my eye. A standard long potato roll is simply too much bread for the average wiener, so my options were to go half-bun or double dog, and I think I made the sensible choice. I heated the hot dogs in a pan with a little bit of water, over which I placed a splatter screen so I could steam the bun. I topped my parallel sausages with ketchup and raw onion because I am an enigma, and I washed it down with a room-temperature Coke Zero. 2/5 stars. — Tammie Teclemariam, contributing writer

Homemade hardtack


I recently wrote a cracker gift guide that included a product called Sailor Boy Pilot Bread. A loved one and I became obsessed with the concept of eating hardtack recreationally, and as such, we were devastated to discover that the Sailor Boy Pilot Bread corporation allegedly ships 98 percent of its shelf-stable wares to Alaska. We live in New York. Luckily, I had the three ingredients required to make hardtack at home. We mixed flour, tap water, and salt, and then rolled out the dough. I didn’t have a rolling pin on hand, so we used a Nalgene water bottle, which made us feel like tech disruptors and Union soldiers.

We cut the big cracker into nine smaller ones with a mezzaluna knife and poked holes into each with a chopstick adorned with cartoon frogs. A website called Bread Dad told us to cook it for an hour, but it didn’t seem to be getting hard enough, so we probably cooked it for two. Once it cooled, it was extremely hard, to the point that I sort of had to suck on it to even taste it. I could see one batch getting me through an Alaskan winter or the entire year of 1865. 4/5 miles (each cracker supposedly gets you four miles’ worth of marching energy.) — Claire Carusillo, contributing writer

Lay’s chips and onion dip

Kelly Conaboy

Lay’s potato chips and onion dip (made with sour cream + Lipton onion soup mix) is one of the best snacks a person can have. On this occasion I enjoyed it in my spider chip-and-dip. My boyfriend really wanted a chip-and-dip after seeing Pete Campbell return one in season 1 of Mad Men, so he purchased this spider-themed one. Good decision. It definitely elevated the dining experience. 4.5/5 stars. — Kelly Conaboy, senior features writer

Vegan buffalo wings (microwaved)

Darcie Wilder

I am vegan and do not care what I put into my body (except that it is vegan). This September, I took a special trip to the vegan grocery place in Chinatown, Lily’s Vegan Pantry (formerly May Wah). I purchased many things but most notably these “wings” that are basically what Foodswings (RIP) used to serve in the 2000s. I am confident other places serve these same things, but for me, this is about recreating the places of my youth I can never revisit. I ate the vegan buffalo wing after taking the SATs one time, but also a thousand other times that I can’t remember. They were not very affordable for a teenager, but they were one of the few foods that were both vegan and good. These things hold true for this specific wing, although when microwaved they turn out soggy (one needs the crispy heat of a deep fryer). Sad! 4/5 stars. — Darcie Wilder, social media editor

Blood drive snack platter

Darcie Wilder

This is my shelf-stable feast, which I indulged in at the Port Authority Bus Terminal location of the New York Blood Center. I was surprised at the vegan options, and also the setting — only one other post-donation diner — was very relaxing. I would normally try to avoid so much sugar in one sitting, but part of the thrill of this meal was that it was precisely what I was supposed to do, on account of my having given away a pint of my blood. Overall, the lead-up to the meal was disappointing (too easy and anticlimactic to donate blood, not even a little painful or exciting), but sitting at the formica table, I was able to really soak in extremely faint dizziness. It felt luxurious to simply eat my little snacks in repose during my bloodletting recovery. Without the bloodletting, the meal would have been lackluster; I think you need to get rid of at least a pint of blood for the Oreos to really have that oomph. 4.5/5 stars. — Darcie again

Eggo waffles

Sarah Hagi

I made Eggo waffles with maple syrup. They were totally fine. I just moved and I forgot my toaster, so I had to use my oven for these, which sucked because it took so much longer than I had anticipated. By the time I took them out, they weren’t hot enough, but I had no patience, so I just ate them warm. They were adequate, though. 3.2/5 stars. — Sarah Hagi, contributing writer

Berkshire sausage

Nicole Dalessandro

Hot dogs were an essential part of my diet growing up, but I was always a bit ashamed to eat them because everyone in elementary school said they were made of terrible things after someone dropped their tray in the cafeteria and their hot dog bounced, like, six feet (probably not that high). Well, this year I have come around full force to the hot dog’s cousin: sausage, specifically Berkshire sausage. I have only seen it in the context of Japanese cuisine, so I’m not sure if the sausages actually come from the Berkshires, but they are so tiny and delectable with a dab of mustard and/or ketchup. You can find them in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores; this picture is from when it was on the menu at an izakaya, and I got it while my friends ordered luxurious things like eel and unagi. It’s how I imagine sausages or hot dogs would look and taste if I lived in a cartoon or a children’s book. If I eat more than four I start to feel sick, but until that point, nothing compares. 4/5 stars. — Nicole Dalessandro, director of content operations

Apple with peanut butter

Tarpley Hitt

A couple months ago, our art director Jack Koloskus said that apples are nature’s toothbrush. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I do think they are the best daily fruit, especially with peanut butter. A lot of late fall apples kind of suck because the new crop hasn’t shipped out yet so stores are still dining out on the last barrels from the fall before. Either that, or they’re really expensive. This one was good and free because my parents’ friend is an apple picker, and he usually brings some when he visits. The peanut butter is Teddie’s Super Chunky. 3.5/5 stars. — Ann Elizabeth Tarpley Hitt, staff writer

Miso chicken thighs with flowering Chinese broccoli, purple baby brussel sprouts, baby leeks, and spring garlic

Jocelyn Silver

I didn’t photograph much regular food this year — whenever I did choose to document a meal, it was usually one that someone else prepared for me at a restaurant. But earlier in 2021, I was living at home in San Diego, where people are really into kombucha and hideous square baseball caps worn with flannels. I had lots of time to drive to my favorite farmstand, which sells really crazy produce that is not regular, but this is the photo I found on my phone so you have to go with it: chicken thighs in a miso marinade (NYT Cooking recipe), on a bed of flowering Chinese broccoli, purple baby brussel sprouts, baby leeks, and spring garlic.

It was way less pretty after I roasted the vegetables; I totally overcooked this gorgeous “product” (as they say on Top Chef) and made it all tragic and brown. But I ate it with some chili crisp and it was pretty good, and I gave a bite of chicken to my dad’s stunningly beautiful springer spaniel, Daisy, and then I took her for a really long nighttime walk by the beach, which I know because my Instagram story from that night also features a video of college kids having a bonfire that I recorded from a cliff above them. It was nice. That miso chicken recipe is really good. 3.5/5 stars (although it would have been 5/5 had I not overcooked). — Jocelyn Silver, managing editor

Polar Unicorn Kisses seltzer

Leah Finnegan (who owns this dog Baby, pictured)

Seltzer for kids — an incredible concept. This tastes like cotton candy. It’s incredible. 4.5/5 stars. — Leah Finnegan, editor in chief