Our 10 Best: Food-Themed Pop Songs


The answer to the third of the three questions in yesterday’s teaser quiz was The Newbeats, whose song “Bread and Butter” easily made it onto either the 10 Best or Runners-Up lists, but which one? Listen to this Youtube clip and see if can figure out in which position it belongs.

In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Duke Orsino refers to music as the “food of love,” meaning, I suppose, that music, like a big dry log, can feed the flames of love. Of course, the reverse is true, too: Nothing engenders carnal thoughts like sexy music, which is why parents objected so strenuously to Elvis Presley’s legendary performances on the Ed Sullivan Show. In fact, food is often used as metaphor for sex in pop song lyrics, allowing singers to surreptitiously voice sentiments that would be considered too sexual for the popular culture. As Peter, Paul, and Mary once sang, “How can I say it, unless I lay it between the lines?”

That’s why three songs in Our 10 Best and its Runners-up involve peaches, which is the answer to the second question in our quiz. Halved and pit removed from the fuzzy interior, they’re considered one of the best aphrodisiacs around, perhaps because of their resemblance to the female anatomy. Which was what the Allman Brothers had in mind when they named their album Eat A Peach, and The United States of America intoned, “I’d eat peaches everyday.”

If peaches are sexual, candy is doubly so. As Sammy Davis Junior once sang (and Cibo Matto later rapped), “The candyman can, ’cause he’s mixing it with love.” And the Grateful Dead chimed in, “Pretty lady ain’t got no friend till, the candyman comes around again, and again.” Sugar and other sweeteners figure in at least three of our songs.

This smirking dude penned what is probably the filthiest song ever written, even though there’s no dirty words in the lyrics. Find out what it is, and listen to the song.

The Fork in the Road staff listened to hundreds of youtubes in an attempt to pick out our 10 faves. You won’t find ballads like Molly Malone, about a squeamish Irish gal who sold cockles, “Alive, alive, oh!”–because we’ve restricted ourselves to songs written after 1900. Some of these numbers we chose may be unfamiliar–indeed we hope that’s the case.

Dig the strobe! Dig the gogo girls! This song is by The Ohio Players, a band from a genre known as Bubblegum Rock, which might be seen as a lithium-driven precursor to Emo. Note that the girl’s name is apparently Chewy Chewy, according to the lyrics.

Runners-Up to Our 10 Best Food-Themed Pop Songs

Cab Calloway, Everybody Eats When They Come To My House, 1947; Fred Wesley and the JBs, Breakin’ Bread, 1974; They Might Be Giants, Dinner Bell, 1992 ; Beach Boys, Wild Honey, 1967; Ohio Express, Chewy, Chewy, 1969; Jay and the Techniques, Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie, 1967; Snoop Doggy Dog, Gin and Juice, 1993; The Murmaids, Popsicles Icicles, 1964; The United States of America, Peaches, 1996; Billie Joel, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, 1977; 10cc, I Hate to Eat Alone, 1981; Supertramp, Breakfast in America, 1979; Simon & Garfunkel, Punky’s Dilemna, 1968; Traffic, In a Shanghai Noodle Factory, 1969; Cibo Matto, Beef Jerky, 1996; Butthole Surfers, Pepper, 1995

Here is the “Pepper” video, which features a fish, a bouffant hairdo, and a glass of juice. And hey, is that Eric Estrada?

Here’s the Wynonie Harris song we promised. Is it dirty, or what?

Numbers 6 through 10 of Our 10 Best Food-Themed Pop Songs

6. Louis Armstrong, Struttin’ with Some Barbecue, 1953
7. Hank Williams, Jambalaya, 1952
8. The Clash, Lost in the Supermarket, 1979
9. Beck, Peaches and Cream, 1999
10. Wynonie Harris, Keep On Churnin’ Til The Butter Comes, 1952

Here’s a nice little freelance video that some fan made to accompany “Lost in the Supermarket.”

Are you ready for the top 5? Grit your teeth, ’cause maybe you won’t agree.

Do you recognize the moppet singing in “Eat the Menu”?

Top 5 Songs of Our 10 Best Food-Themed Pop Songs

1. Bessie Smith, Gimme a Pigfoot, 1933
2. The Beatles, Savoy Truffle, 1968
3. 50 Cent and Olivia, Candy Shop, 2005
4. The Sugarcubes, Eat the Menu, 1989
5. The Newbeats, Bread and Butter, 1964

See the 50 Cent vid:

And here’s our Number 1, turn it way up, because it’s super lo-fi! (That’s Benny Goodman on clarinet.)

Please let us know if we’ve omitted some of your favorites.

Answer to the second question in our teaser quiz (What father and son appear in our top 25 in different bands and different decades?):

John Lennon in the Beatles, Sean Lennon in Cibo Matto.

Like the song says, “You make a garbage man scream.”

“Could we have kippers for breakfast, mummy dear, mummy dear?” That’s not Benny Goodman on clarinet.

Somebody did a hell of a lot of digging to get so many clips of the Fab Four gorging!