Film & Food Friday: The Breakfast Club

We’ll see how this goes — something new to write about considering I felt like I was running out of meaningful things to say about cookbooks (at least for now). This will sound completely prosaic, but I got the idea for this post because it sounded excellent (the alliteration) and because years ago I was obsessed with reading this column on Design*Sponge called Living In. It was great! One of the writers would choose a film (most often ones with a particularly well-done mise-en-scene) and then pick out decor items that would suit whatever film was chosen — it was as if you were “living in” the world of that movie. (A little background: for those of you reading (who don’t know me) I am a huge cinephile. The biggest. My high school job was at Blockbuster Video and I think my life at the time was pretty stereotypical. Maybe not quite like the James Van Der Beek character in Dawson’s Creek or the Jamie Kennedy character in Scream but it was close. I totally understood those characters. Maybe I (in my mind) resembled the music nerds in High Fidelity but with movies a little bit more. But don’t worry! I’m definitely not a movie snob and would never judge a person’s film choices (I like Hudson Hawk, so who am I to talk??) Anyways, with this in mind I thought it might be fun to explore some of my favourite films and see if I can find some real-life food inspo to throw in the mix.

This week I’ll be looking at one of my favourite films in terms of what types of modern day food inspiration I can find (and possibly be inspired by). Have you seen The Breakfast Club? It is a movie that I’ve seen more times than I can count and it’s one that had a lasting impact of a generation of teenagers. That said, the scene that I keep thinking about in a food context (obviously) is the lunch scene where all the characters unpack their lunches. (All the pics today are screen caps from movieclips.com on YouTube — I own nothing! But it’s tough to talk about film without having some decent visual aids. Am I right?!)

Before I even thought about writing posts for F&FF, I was always struck by Allison’s (Ally Sheedy) lunch — buttered Wonderbread sprinkled (liberally) with powder from Pixy Stix and finished off with Cap’n Crunch. Personally I can’t think of anything more revolting and I think that this is definitely a comment against the society of convenience that we’re used to. She’s the one the others refer to as a “basketcase” and I don’t wonder if the food isn’t meant to be indicative of this. Without getting into an in-depth character analysis let’s just look at who might provide inspiration for food like this today…Christina Tosi (of Momofuku/Milk Bar fame). Just have a peek at this clip of her on Jimmy Fallon. Seriously. It’s a fairly 1:1 comparison, since I think that sandwich also looks a bit revolting (but if I’m honest I’ll admit sometimes it’s the most revolting dishes that taste the best). I know if Allison could have swung it, she’d be drinking Cereal Milk(tm) instead of Coca-Cola.

Next we have Brian’s (Anthony Michael Hall) lunch — soup, juice, PB & J sans crusts. As Judd Nelson’s character “Bender” points out — all of the food groups are represented.  The person I think that could be a modern day patron saint of this lunch is Jamie Oliver.  It’s exactly this type of wholesome lunch that he’s trying to get school children to embrace. If you haven’t seen his TedTalk it’s worth a watch! Gone would be the soda from these scenes. His Feed Me Better and Food Revolution campaigns look to improve the quality of life for people (children and adults alike) through diet. I think if he was in charge of Brian’s lunch it may look more appealing rather than how it looks on screen — boring and healthy. Maybe these are subconscious seeds being placed in the brains of teens — you’re a boring dork if you eat healthy. Food is certainly used to mirror how each character is seen and accepted into the social order of the film.

Once we get to Claire’s (Molly Ringwald) lunch I think her inspo is easy to spot — Gwyneth Paltrow & GOOP.  Her upper class life of privileged is shown as soon as she opens the bag carrying her lunch (it appears to be a fancy takeout bag) — sushi. Imagine if Gwyneth was making her lunch — the food would be exclusive in some way and something the average teen wouldn’t relate to (and may, quite possibly, roll their eyes at). Macrobiotic? Locavore?

Last but not least, Andrew “the jock”‘s (Emilio Estevez) lunch. Definitely from a brown bag, his lunch looks to be a mixture of convenience foods (chips and cookies) and homemade foods (the sandwiches). While there are no direct influences I can think of, because of his athletic background I think the food that would be inspired by his lunch would resemble more healthy choices — green shakes maybe? I tried to guess what a high school athlete might eat nowadays but I had no clue. For all I know, this lunch is still getting tonnes of play.   

After all of that talk, I keep coming back to Allison’s lunch and I feel inspired to try and make a vegan dessert using some version of Cereal Milk(tm). Something raw, possibly with a corn flake and date crust?? In all seriousness this scene, while seeming to be unimportant, really gets to the heart of how the high school caste-system functioned in the film and how these characters related to and understood each other. Wondering why the Bender character didn’t bring a lunch — the simple answer would point towards a neglected experience however I think by not having a lunch he keeps himself from being placed in a vulnerable state. The viewer has no real insight into his life via food. He has nothing so there is nothing to ridicule. Similarly none of the characters feel sorry for him because of his meanness.

Film & Food Friday?? Should I come back next week?

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