14 Never-Ending Food Debates

Warning: You have entered a supremely dark dimension. From this point, you will spend every waking minute thinking about the shape of bread. The sogginess of french fries. Cereal and milk — or is it milk and cereal? Hot brownies and cold beef. Whatever the heck goes in a pot of chili. Folding. Licking. Biting. Pouring. Twisting. Dunking. Pineapple. On. Pizza. [Cue sound fx: A terrifying scream.]

You will obsess over tedious, mind-numbing details, begging your friends, Sherry from accounting, and random people on Reddit, "DAE put peanut butter on both sides of PB&J?" You will be cursed with infinite sarcastic comments, but no definitive answers. So, just like regular Reddit.

We pizza'd, milkshake'd, and Oreo'd our butts off so you wouldn't have to. (But if you don't remember how you eat an Oreo, you gotta do that one again.) Pick your side, choose a team, or be Switzerland in the middle, these life or death-ish battles are gonna have you pulling your angel hair out, and loving every minute of it!

Pizza: Fold it vs. palm it

We got 99 problems, and for some of us, pizza is definitely one. We all agree #PizzaIsLife. But on the two polarizing sides of this warm, cheesy, Napolitano discussion, we find Team Fold The Slice in Half, and Team Palm It Flat — maybe with two hands — while enjoying the extreme close-up pepperoni landscape.

Ultra cool characters with no jobs and incredible Brooklyn apartments, in movies and TV, have certainly given the folded slice its time to shine. Pizza's a New York thing, New York locals fold it, bada bing, bada boom. When you're some guy in a leather jacket, running to the thing, and stopping by a shop for a giant slice of cheese, you don't have time for anything other than the equivalent of a DIY pizza taco. Places to be, pizza to eat, you get it. You can even double up on the slices and mangia two at a time, with one hand.

But, on the flip side, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don't fold it, Pizza Rat didn't fold it, and Kevin McCallister didn't fold it in Home Alone 2. So, why the no-fold? Connoisseurs of the unadulterated slice typically point to the toppings. Why squish something into a shape it was never meant to be? Why risk losing a mushroom, or an entire layer of cheese with one bite? Why taste mostly crust when it's the least flavorful ingredient? So, which one's right? Well, duh, it's obviously ... 

Milkshake and fries: Dip vs. don't

Some of us were plunging warm, crispy fries into cold, creamy milkshakes since before it was cool. And the rest of us were secretly judging those people, since before there was a comments section. Times have changed, but this battle rages on. To dip, or not to dip. (And would you like fries with that side-eye?)

Pro-dippers grab their fries and Frosties to unite under a pillar of taste bud science; salt makes sweet things taste sweeter. The hot and cold vibe also electrifies your brain, elevating this combo into somewhat of a highbrow experience. (Is it still classy if you stick fries on your eyebrows, and one on your lip as a mustache — for added effect?) Also, it's freakin' awesome. Y'know, to be all science-y about it.

Of course, we also rep the anti-dippers. The purists of the plastic fast food tray where ne'er two items shall touch. French fries to the left, milkshakes to the right, nobody gets soggy, or tainted with rogue fry sauce. Commenters on Reddit have even called fry dipping the custom of a "monster" who needs "help," pinning the dunk skills on the "uncultured" among us. Wherever you land on this one, the main question is: Which shake is best to [NSFW] your fries? Strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, or banana?

Chili: Beans vs. beanless

Beans vs. beanless isn't just a matter of whether or not you enjoy backfiring like an old Chevy Chevette. This contentious chili debate reveals a saucy situation. Bean fans like chili with beans. Beanless fans like chili with meat. Cincinnati likes chili with spaghetti, but we're gonna have to cut that one for time.

For many of us, beans are the little legume building blocks of a decent pot of chili. There would be nothing left but sauce, and maybe a sad slice of cornbread, without them. For the record, beans have been allowed to appear in competition chili at the World Champion Chili Cook-Off, for more than a decade. (The 2022 Homestyle category winner featured Bush's Black Chili Beans in the recipe. Seems legit.)

But for those of us with chili pumping through our Texas-born veins, beans can GTFO when it comes to our chili con comfort food. [Cue sound fx: Bullwhip crack!] The state that calls chili its official dish, proudly simmers its stew to perfection without a bean in sight. And sometimes throws in a few mountain oysters (y'know, from a bull's bikini area) for effect. Former president Lyndon B. Johnson even claimed, "Chili concocted outside of Texas is a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing." Preach, LBJ! Still, no matter how you cook it, it's not really chili if it [bleep-itty-bleep] beans.

Best way to PB&J

Today we begin with three simple parts: Peanut butter, jelly, and bread. And then a fourth part involving absolute mania on the best way to put them together. Spreads on different slices of bread? Peanut butter on both sides, with jelly in the middle? Just tell us what you want us to say and we'll say it. We'll do anything. Just get us out of this jam. (Ba-dum, ching! Oh, also, if you don't mind, can you cut the crust off?)

We're not even gonna touch nut butters, jams, or breads. We're freestyle, use what you like. Here, we're talking about the PB&J structure. And for a large number of us — including Skippy — the seminal sandwich features 2 tablespoons of creamy PB spread on one slice of bread, 2 tablespoons of jelly covering the other slice, and then, facing the spreads inward ( ... the actual directions. Um, Skippy? You good?), close the sandwich, open your mouth, and, using your teeth, take a bite, chew completely, and swallow. Follow us for more culinary lifestyle tips.

Still, modern technology has led to the flip side of this sticky coin: Peanut butter on both slices of bread, with jelly in the middle. The theory here is that the jelly has zero contact with the bread. It's also trapped inside the peanut butter, and unable to escape its gluey cocoon. Each bite should feature a peanut butter, jelly, and bread three-way like you've never tasted before. 

Pineapple: Pizza topping vs. trash fruit

Here's where it gets dicey. Hawaiian pizza vs. the world. It's an underdog contest, with one side towering over the other, essentially demanding that Big Pizza ban pineapple from pies, stores, and modern culture altogether. But is there an argument for a pineapple ring? Or a few ripe chunks of the stuff, atop a ham and cheese pizza?

Anti Pineapple takes no prisoners. Gordon Ramsay once tweeted, "Pineapple does not belong on top of pizza," with Anthony Bourdain offering, "Have you seen this s***? Hawaiian Pizza? I cannot f***ing believe it." This crowd claims pineapple bullies the delicate flavor profile, sogs up the crust with its acidic drip, and basically embodies pure evil. Sacrilegious fruit, may it be condemned to upside down cakes forever.

But Pro Pineapple isn't going down without a fight. And a well-made Hawaiian pizza just may change the game forever. Chef and stone cold pizza genius, Kurt Evans, caramelizes pineapple chunks with sugar and bacon fat before topping the pie for the oven. That method eliminates extra water in the fruit, and pumps up the flavor for a roasty, toasty finish. Ever had a really good ham roast with sweet pineapple? It's that, plus mozzarella. Now that we've witnessed a true tale of survival, we'd still [censored] pineapple on our pizza any day of the week.

Well-done steak: Do vs. don't

Break out the boxing gloves. The common take here is that cooking a steak all the way to well-done portrays tasteless ignorance, and gently heating it to any lesser temperature reveals a timeless, beefy elegance. True? False? Vegetarian? Either way, look out, cows.

A thick cloud of shame accompanies the mere utterance of the phrase "well-done" when you're talking meat. Prying eyes from dark steakhouse booths flash over dirty martinis, straining to see just what kind of monster ordered a steak cooked hotter than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. All at once, you've somehow disrespected the cut, the animal, farmers, butchers, chef, your wallet, and yourself, since you'll have to chew on that thing for hours to make it edible. The symphony of judgy gasps hits your table faster than the harvest bread basket ever could.

But there are those who don't give an inch to any of that bull honky. Well-done your way to personal satisfaction any time you like. It might take a little longer on the fire, but that extra char and rugged crust is so worth it. As Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse chef Danny McCallum explains, "If a guest wants it well done, then that is how they shall get it, without prejudice. As I see it, you are paying, you can have it however you like. I cook steaks to well done on a nightly basis." When it comes down to it, we're gonna go with our gut and always order our steak just the way we like it. (Cue sound fx: Moo!)

Oreos: Split vs. bite

There may be a "famous" way, or even a "right" way. But, at this point, we can confirm that a never ending debate will be had, no matter what. For 100 years, Oreos came in chocolate (and maybe lemon), so all anyone was doing was either twisting it open, or biting into it. More than a century after it launched, we're also trying to get our hands on limited edition flavors like s'mores, mint chip, maple creme, toffee crunch, birthday cake, peanut butter pie, and caramel coconut. But for the record, half of us still eat Milk's Favorite Cookie completely wrong.

First up, the cookie sandwich splitters. Here, the full Oreo-sperience is a two-handed deal that involves sampling the vanilla creme before enjoying the cookie halves. (Lick it to death, or scrape it off with your teeth, you're on the same team.) U.S. marketing director for Oreo, Marion Delgutte Saenen, noted, "Perhaps the best known way to eat an Oreo is the classic 'twist, lick, and dunk' ... in our opinion it's still the best way to eat America's favorite cookie." Wait, we thought it was Milk's Favorite Cookie. Fine. It's everything's favorite cookie. More milk over here, please.

Then, we have the biters. Screw your cute little twisty thing, with the licky-dunky stuff. Just freakin' eat the dang cookie already. Over here, we've got science on our side. Our natural human love of crunchy, creamy snacks allows the first bite of the cookie to send those pleasurable chocolate aromas straight to our brains. Mouth has cookie. Eat more cookie. (We all turn into Cookie Monster, it's all part of it.) Milk dunking is allowed for both sides of this argument, but when it comes to how an Oreo should really go down, you definitely have to Cookie Monster it!

Sandwich half: Rectangle vs. triangle

Sandwiches are a menace to society. Even worse, sometimes they come in halves. Do you cut on the perpendicular for rectangles? Or go diagonal for triangles? If you haven't thought about this very hard, whoa buddy, it's high time you pick a lane (or else).

At first glance, the polygons might be in the lead on this one. Lots of us like the curb appeal of triangles. Prop one up on the other and you have tuna salad haute cuisine at 1:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. A ruffle of lettuce, a peek-a-boo tomato! There's an obvious corner at which to take your first bite (ooh, is that a bit of celery?), and an easy spot to hold onto.

But where triangles sweep the beauty division, rectangles surge ahead in the one category where triangles can't even begin to compete: Holding all the stuff inside the sandwich. Unless you're working with a glue-type filling with, say, a grilled cheese, or peanut butter based situation, the absolute worst way to maintain the structure of a chicken salad state of affairs is with triangles. All the innards immediately eject themselves via those useless corner escape hatches, which flap in your face as you attempt to salvage your lunch before it hits the floor. Five-second rule or not, looks like we'll be cutting our sandwiches into [uh, loading ...].

Spaghetti: Twirl vs. cut

Cut it up, or twirl it around, spaghetti makes the journey from your plate to your face in one of two polarizing manners. Sadly neither involves you and a gorgeous random stranger accidentally eating the same noodle by two ends, only to kiss in the middle. We're not here for romance, we're here to duke it out!

Twirl: The process by which spaghetti noodles become entwined in the tines of a fork, and are gathered together and elegantly transported to the mouth. Is it the official maneuver of Italy, where it is commonly considered jaw-droppingly rude to attempt anything else. 

Cut: Using a fork and knife (if ya fancy), slice the entire plate of spaghetti into dramatically shorter lengths, and either stab them by the fork prongs, or (more likely) scoop them up with the fork as a spoon. Shovel into mouth. It might be brazenly unsophisticated, but are you in a pasta twirling competition? No. Are you at home eating in front of the TV? Yeah, probably. Why make it harder than it is. With the cutting method, you just scoop up a mouthful of pasta, and breezily continue on with life. Suddenly, we want spaghetti and meatballs!

How to say pecan

How do you say it? A. PEE-kin, B. pih-CAN, C. pee-CAN, D. pih-KAHN, E. PEE-can ... oh boy, we could be here all day. We're talking about the little brown nut that looks kind of like a walnut, but less brains-y ... delicious in a Southern pie, sweet roll, or turtle cookie ... the state nut of California, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. Ring a bell? Yeah. That one. So how the heck are you supposed to pronounce it? It depends.

We sure can't go back to 1761 when it was first said out loud and be like, "Could you say that again into our phone?" Allegedly, somebody at the time blurted out "puh-KAHN." But, considering the people in that room are dead ... for hundreds of years ... who's to say for sure.

It also doesn't have to do with where you live. Both Northerners and Southerners say "PEE-can" (our ears!), so that's a useless barometer, no matter how good your PEE-can pie is. As executive director Alexander Ott, American Pecan Council, said, "Any and all pronunciations are welcome as long as the pecans are being eaten!" And there you have it!

Ketchup: Pour vs. dip

Don't even think about it. If even a drop of ketchup oozes out of that bottle before we figure this out, it's game on. The canvas: All of your french fries. The paint: Ketchup. Do we Jackson Pollock the living daylights out of the fries with our condiment? Or do we pour some ketchup into a separate area, to keep it from tainting the fries? The debate is lit.

In a pairing that began during (you will never guess) the tail end of the 1800s (told ya), ketchup and potatoes have been buds since way back. As far as the best method for pairing them up, well, that's another story. Ketchup on the side fans like the impossibility of cold, soggy fries that have been trapped in a ketchup avalanche, zero goopy ketchup fingers, and the control over the perfect ratio of potato to tomato.

Ketchup on top lovers prefer the wild thrill of committing to half a bottle of Heinz all at once. They eat their fries without the training wheels of the little paper condiment cup. They're all in on the full fries and ketchup adventure. No holds barred. Shooting from the hip. Line 'em up and knock 'em down. We easily get caught up in the glitz and glamor of a ketchup-based frylationship, but when it comes down to it, we're all about the [Cue sound fx: A squeeze bottle fart].

Cereal: Milk first vs. cereal first

We're all in the same boat, right? We eat cereal with milk, out of bowls, using spoons, sometimes with marshmallows in it. So, this one's solved! Yep, solved it. All done. Nothing to see here. Just pour cereal in the bowl, then add milk. Yet (Cue sound fx: A drumroll) some people do milk then cereal? No, no, no, no, no this isn't happening.

Maybe you've seen cereal in movies or during Saturday morning cartoons, where exactly zero people or animated characters put milk in their bowl first, and then add Froot Loops or whatever. No, it's always Crunch Berries in the bowl, then a beautiful shot of splashy milk flowing from the sky, and making everyone's dreams come true. If it's milk first, you have no idea how many Honey Nut Cheerios you're eating, and you've got O's floating all over the top of the milk like icebergs bobbing around the Titanic. And we know how well that worked out.

But milk first fans claim that this method preserves the integrity of the cereal, i.e., it keeps your Cookie Crisp crisp. Plus, it allows each cereal layer to take on the perfect amount of milk, which you are now well aware of, since you saw how much you actually poured in the bowl, without cereal blocking your view. Valid point. But still, might we suggest that this is no bowl that you could ever prop on your chest right below your chin, and eat while basically lying down on the sofa? Because that's usually the vibe we're going for. We see your milk first argument, and we raise you a: They're Grrreat!

Brownies: Edges vs. centers

It's up to you whether your brownies are family-friendly, or not. But regardless of your preference for fluffy cake brownies, or gooey, double-fudge, chocolate-chunked, swirly morsels from heaven (totally unbiased opinion), once the tray exits the oven, we only have eyes for edges or centers. Pick fast. Your à la mode depends on it.

Team Edges might be the impulsive first move. Brownie pans with edge-only baking wells prove our cultural obsession with those sweet crusty bits. Edges also offer bonus texture, which is missing from center pieces, unless you add walnuts. Along with the soft bite of the main square, you get a chewier element to add to your mouth party. Double down with a corner piece, and Bob's your uncle.

Meanwhile, the Center Pieces Team would gladly cut the crusts off the whole pan of brownies. And some of them do! Give them fudgy cocoa clouds, and none of that tacky junk along the edges. Brownies are supposed to be soft, not hard and crunchy. Some people on this side even undercook their batches, so there are zero structural edges. Whatever piece you choose, it's a brownie and it's delicious. 

Ice cream: Lick vs. bite

Like nails on a chalkboard, we find ourselves immersed in the mania of the licking vs. biting ice cream stand-off. And, 100 percent, some of our teeth have already shriveled into our heads in terror.

Lickers, listen up. If science class involved salted caramel swirl, you'd get an A+. Ice cream only tastes like something because your body warms up the flavor-packed fat content in the mix. And with a lick, your tongue swipes just enough creamy goodness to send your taste buds to paradise. In the United States, 44 percent of us proudly lick our double scoops with sprinkles, versus 26 percent who bite them. Jury's still out on what the remaining 30 percent of us are doing with ice cream. (Spoons. Please say spoons.)

But biters bite back. Because of course you do, with that superhuman ability to sink your teeth into an ice cold frozen dessert. Licking is silliness reserved for children with lollipops, not adults who lick no other foods in order to eat them. The fact that ice cream eventually melts adds even more fuel to the fire. Bite it, and let it thaw in your mouth — not in your hands. We're just glad we get to eat ice cream on either team. And not to pick sides, but we're so going with ... [brain freeze].