Rainbow Bite: Foods to Dye For

A few weeks ago, my Facebook news feed became inundated with video tutorials instructing me on how to make a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich that, when torn in half, oozes long strings of colorful melted cheese.

Part of me was intrigued, but part of me also wanted to barf …

… and barf all the way to a tiny streetside joint in Hong Kong called Kala Toast, where rainbow grilled cheese first became a thing. If you’re not game for an overseas excursion to try the original, a simple Google search will yield plenty of copycat recipes, including this one, which recommends finishing off your sandwich with a garnish of sprinkles – rainbow-colored, of course.

My beef with bright, multihued sandwiches isn’t so much the taste (though the Chinese version does call for blue lavender-flavored cheese – thanks, but I think I’ll pass), it’s the fact that it’s cheese, and it’s colorful, and I’m not sure if it’s rotten, radioactive or both, and should I be worried?

I felt the same way about green and purple ketchup. Apparently, Ore-Ida made bright blue French fries a reality at one time too, though I was never unfortunate enough to come across those.

Of all things to colorize, why food?

I mean, I know the world is your canvas and everything, but this is getting out of control.

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It’s like someone said, “Let’s not stop at hair or architecture or this sweet shirt I got at Goodwill. Let’s slap crazy colors on all the things. Let’s make bagels, lattes and spaghetti in Day-Glo hues too, so that when I …”

Eh, never mind.

At Six Degrees, we practice psycho-sensory brand-building, which in the present context means leveraging visual cues, like color, to enhance people’s perceptions of products and brands. But turning cheese into a rainbow does not create a useful perception. “Shock” does not qualify as a meaningful contribution to the reputation and appreciation of cheese.

I’m an artist, and it’s for this reason that I have nothing against tattoos or butter sculptures or even whatever weird shenanigans Shia LaBeouf has been in the headlines for, paper bag or no paper bag.

I also have nothing against M&Ms and Skittles and lollipops the size of my face.

Or sherbet.

Sherbet should be rainbow. Just ask the container of it in the freezer here at Six Degrees. (On second thought, don’t. It might not be rainbow anymore. It’s been there a while.)

I echo the sentiment that it’s OK for sweets to be colorful. In fact, it’s practically tradition, so much so that candy literally has two options: It can be brown or it can be bright. (Or it can be the magical unicorn that is white chocolate. Candy corn Hershey’s bars, please come back to me.)

But, like Britney, all other foodstuffs should be left alone.

NOTE: I’ll gladly give a pass to cake. Like, have you seen “Cake Wars”? (It’s right up there with “Family Feud” and anything starring Guy Fieri in the guilty pleasure department, for what it’s worth.) Bake a cake that looks like the Emerald City, manhandle it to high heaven and back, and then pipe royal icing obscenities all over it; I don’t care. I’ll take a slice of that over a sandwich that looks like it’s suffering from Crayola roid rage any day.

Anything beyond that, I draw the line.

Rainbow bread looks really pretty until I imagine what it tastes like – a kitchen sponge, probably … not that I’ve ever actually had a kitchen sponge – and then it’s not so pretty anymore.

Plus, that’s a lot of food dye, and I’d rather not wake up one morning with a third arm in a place where a third arm wouldn’t be very useful.

Plus, plus, I’m not a child. I don’t need gimmicks to finish my supper or go to bed hungry. (Though I might need one to eat my veggies. Twenty-seven years of experience has taught me that broccoli is N-A-S-T-Y nasty.)

So people, please. Stop trying to make rainbow happen.

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Six Degrees
Six Degrees uses psycho-sensory tools and techniques to build more successful national and global brands. Brands are rooted in human perception. And our psycho-sensory approach is designed to identify deeper and richer insights from human perception and then develop brand communications that change suboptimal perceptions or reinforce the right perceptions. More than 80 percent of the information humans process is nonverbal, making it essential that brands manage the sensory signals they send out. Our people are passionate branding experts wielding powerful psycho-sensory tools to build stronger and more successful brands across the globe.

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